22 - 23 November 2023 | Royce Hub Building, Manchester

Royce PhD Student Sandpit 2023

Date :
22 November 2023 - 23 November 2023
Time :
All Day
Location :
Royce Hub Building
Event Type :

Register here

Book now

From 22 – 23 November, the Henry Royce Institute (Royce) will host a PhD Student Research Sandpit at its flagship Royce Hub building at the University of Manchester.

The event will provide a chance for PhD students to connect with peers working in materials science disciplines and experience a ‘sandpit’ format often used by research councils and funders to stimulate new lines of thinking for tackling complex research challenges. Participants will be tasked with exploring a set scientific topic, working within a team to identify the challenges faced within the application area, and then exercising their own expertise to devise novel proposals and solutions. These intensive proposal-forming environments encourage the creation of new collaborations, identification of barriers to success and mitigation of conflicting approaches.

This event offers a chance for PhD students to experience the research sandpit format, meet with their peers from the materials science community and work together on solving a challenging problem that exists within the discipline.

Throughout the sandpit, participants will work on a “Grand Challenge”, applying their own expertise to apply their scientific thinking to a real-world problem. While the exact nature of the challenge statement and the industrial partner involved will be kept under wraps until the event itself, it can be revealed that it will be a real-world industrial issue presented by a world-leading company in sustainable technologies. The actual challenge posed will be revealed at the event to encourage innovative thought, open-minded solutions, and drawing on knowledge from across a range of materials science disciplines.

Participants will work in small groups, learning how to tackle the challenge as a team in order to respond to the Grand Challenge. At the end of the sandpit, groups will have devised a proposal which summaries their work in the research challenge. This will be presented to a panel of expert judges who will appraise the ideas and offer feedback on the proposal, as well as awarding prize money to the teams based on their performance.

As part of Royce’s commitment to making this event as accessible as possible, successful applicants will have two nights accommodation covered , as well as an opening dinner, breakfast and lunch on both days of the sandpit.

Read more about the previous Royce PhD Research Sandpit event here.


Applicants will be current PhD students from across the UK materials science community. Students will bring a broad range of skills and scientific expertise to the event, allowing them to challenge their own knowledge and develop new perspectives in collaboration with their peers.


During the event participants will:

  • Explore a real life “Grand Challenge” in materials science
  • Work in teams and across disciplines to broaden their research horizons
  • Develop new systematic approaches to thinking and problem solving
  • Receive mentoring and guidance from Royce staff and researchers, as well as experts from the Grand Challenge field


There are a total of 24 places available at the event.

Please complete the online application form. Participants will be selected on the quality of their written statement and to ensure a mix of scientific backgrounds and host institutions. Applications will close at 00:00pm, Sunday 5th November 2023. Responses will be sent out at 14:00 on Monday 6th November.


Apply now


Please contact engagement@royce.ac.uk with any enquiries