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New connections forged at inter-CDT World Café knowledge exchange event

PhD students sitting around a round table discussing wellbeing challenges

Participants discuss key wellbeing challenges James Griffith

A piece of flipchart paper containing post-it notes with wellbeing tips shared by CDT students

Capturing ideas from the wellbeing table James Griffith

PhD students sitting at numerous round tables in a large room having discussions about PhD challenges

Conversations in full flow James Griffith

28 February 2023

On Wednesday 25 January, PhD and EngD students from four UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training met at The Watershed in Bristol for a World Café style knowledge exchange event.

The participants were made up of postgraduate students at various stages of their doctoral study from: CoSEM CDT, FARSCOPE CDT, IDC in Composites Manufacture, and FIND-CDT.

The Café provided an informal but structured setting to discuss key doctoral challenges, as well as creating a platform to share knowledge with those at earlier states of their research. In addition to modelling best practice, sharing experiences with each other opened up opportunities to seek solutions for common concerns as well as allowing networks to be established and solidified among the participants.

Echoing one of the key motivations for holding this event, a participant remarked on how useful it was to hear ‘words of wisdom’ from those further along their doctoral journey.

In order to facilitate productive conversations, the discussions were framed around six key themes: networking and conferences; your public profile and publishing papers; research and self-management; skills development and teaching; using the labs; and writing up. Most seemed to be in denial about the last one! Each theme was assigned to a table with a facilitator from the CDTs’ professional services teams. The facilitators stayed on the same table while everyone else moved table every 10 minutes or so. An algorithm was used to allow the participants to mix with as many different people as possible throughout the afternoon. Throughout the sessions, questions and answers were recorded on post-it notes and then, after the final rotation, each table was given extra time to prioritise their 3-5 top-tips. These tips were then fed back to the whole cohort who were, in turn, able to comment on them. These tips will be e-mailed to the group so that they can be easily referred to at a later date.

At the end of the day, very well-deserved drinks and sweet treats were provided so that the participants could continue their conversations.

As the participants socialised, many of them commented on how they’d enjoyed the opportunity to meet lots of other CDT members through the table switching format as well as the lively discussions that ensued.

Further information

The CoSEM CDT (established in 2019) has evolved from the highly successful and established ACCIS CDT (2014-2024) to address exciting doctoral training opportunities for multidisciplinary composite materials engineering and manufacture.

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