Doctoral Students Engage with Metrology and Materials at Royce Student Sandpit

The 2022 Royce PhD Student Research Sandpit brought together students from across the country to address a grand research challenge relating to metrology and materials in an intensive proposal-creating environment.

The annual event was this year hosted in person and provided the chance for students to experience the ‘Research Sandpit’ format often used by research councils and funders to stimulate new lines of thinking for tackling complex research challenges.

Beginning on 21 November 2022, the latest PhD Student Research Sandpit honed the skills of our participants in on metrology, the scientific study of measurement. Experts from the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Oxford set a grand challenge focused on battery science.

Speaking on the event, Tom Hancocks, Royce Training and Skills Manager said:

The format of this workshop is a great way for research students to learn and develop new skills. In presenting them with a novel challenge, our participants must quickly assimilate new knowledge outside of the realm of their expertise, propose ideas for a possible solution, and work with a group of new colleagues in a time-sensitive project.

Our Student Sandpits provide an opportunity for researchers to meet and work with peers across the materials science community on genuinely challenging problems. We provide support from voluntary mentors and experts working in senior academic, industry and research management positions throughout our Sandpit events.

The participants broke off into four interdisciplinary teams, developing presentations to answer the challenges set by our experts. The pooled skills and research of the competing teams were then presented to a panel of expert judges at the end of the event.

The judging panel was comprised of:

  • Gareth Hinds, National Physics Laboratory
  • Alex Walton, University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute
  • Carmen Murphy, Johnson Matthey

The winning team, ‘Charge your Mind’, took a radical tact in response to the challenge, developing a comprehensive outreach programme to educate the public on the importance of battery science – delivering a robust plan to research and deliver an educational programme with the ambition to produce deeper tech research projects and lay the groundwork for potential new company start-ups in the sector.

The winning team’s proposal was given alongside a highly competitive set of presentations from other participating teams focused on different areas of battery science, such as phase changing materials and de-risking research into lithium and sodium ion technologies.

Congratulations to the winning team of the 2022 Royce PhD Student Sandpit, which consisted of:

  • Nikita Lack, University of Southampton
  • Chris Hoole, University of Manchester
  • Xinyun Liu, University of Manchester
  • Naemah Noor, University of Manchester
  • Sangeetha Ramasamy, Cranfield University

As the UK’s national institute for advanced materials, Royce is committed to training and upskilling the next generation of materials scientists and engineers. Alongside providing access to our national cutting edge research facilities, Royce is actively fostering an engaged learning community in materials science and engineering throughout the UK. Read more about our support for students, academics and industry here