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Royce Summer Internship Scheme Celebrates Successful First Year

Royce’s undergraduate summer internship programme finished with a flourish in September, with a virtual mini-conference and poster presentation session.

For the summer of 2020, Royce launched a new funded research internship scheme for undergraduates about to enter the final year of their degree. Around 25 materials science undergraduates took up short research projects at Birmingham, Imperial, Leeds, Oxford, Sheffield and Swansea. These ran for a few months over the summer break, culminating in a day-long virtual event on 9 September – attended by interns, supervisors, and Royce staff – in which each intern had the opportunity to deliver a poster presentation about their work. The – predominantly remote – internships spanned a broad range of Royce research areas and focussed mainly on characterisation, machine learning, and modelling for a variety of materials applications.

Many students found that the internships and conference helped them to understand more about what might be involved in a research career.

My Royce Institute Summer Internship was a very fulfilling experience which not only allowed me to learn a lot, but also helped me cement my decision to pursue a PhD in Materials Science in the future.

Peter Mlkvik | Imperial College London intern

The Henry Royce Institute Summer Internship provided me with a precious opportunity to take my first taste of academic research, giving me a broad platform to get access to the state-of-the-art technologies.

Xinyan Li | University of Leeds intern

Other interns valued the opportunity to develop a portfolio of skills around their research project.

The opportunities for networking, presentation and the development of other skills will certainly be valuable to me in the future.

Lucy Ellwood | University of Sheffield intern

This internship enabled me to learn about finite element modelling and improve my practical engineering skills such as time management, project ti

Joshua Peters | University of Sheffield internmeline planning, independent academic literature research, presenting academic work and producing academic posters.

Other interns spoke about the value to them of the research itself.

The subject was interesting and engaging, despite the fact that it was a new experience for me to do this type of work. I think that this experience will help me when applying to participate in future research projects.

Karol Murgrabia | University of Sheffield intern

I benefitted from the summer placement as it gave me an insight into a type of bonding processes that I wouldn’t have gone into as much detail in my undergraduate degree and the uses of it in industry. It enabled me to expand my knowledge in specific area and develop my skills in theoretical based research benefitting me for anything like this in the future.

Emma Williams | Swansea University intern

Intern supervisors, too, were very positive about the benefits of the internship program.

The Henry Royce Summer Internship scheme has been a huge success with exceptionally high quality work presented at the conference by students despite C-19 limitations! The scheme is instrumental in kick starting the research careers of the students toward roles in both academic or industrial, allowing then to work in an area of their choosing, developing application specific knowledge and practical skills needed for onward R&D careers.

Dr Sandy Knowle | University of Birmingham

Dr Helen Davies, from Swansea University, said that she felt “fortunate” to be awarded two internships, before sharing glowing comments from her two interns.

The Royce Summer Internship program gave us the opportunity to run interesting side projects that complimented our core research. The UK COVID-19 lockdown meant that all parties had to adapt quickly to changing project briefs and technical skills. The students taking our projects did an excellent job in staying motivated during this difficult time and produced some fantastic outputs. They were able to develop their skills in working independently and solve real-life research problems without the need for constant supervision. I hope the students will use this internship experience as they complete their degrees and move out into industry or continue their research careers.

Dr Ben Thomas | University of Sheffield

The Royce internship scheme is great: it pays students living wage therefore helping address some imbalances by widening participation and also provides a platform for collaborations across different institutions in the UK. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for my student.

Dr Stella Pedrazzini

In parallel to completing their research projects, the interns were also supported by the Royce communications team, who provided them with guidance on creating a professional social media presence for networking and career development. By the end of the internship, each participant had a Twitter account and used it to engage in a weeklong Twitter poster session, sharing their own research poster and posting questions and comments on others. The full discussion around the Twitter poster session can be found under the Twitter hashtag #RoyceSummerInternPosters.

Royce CEO Prof. David Knowles opened the mini-conference with an engaging presentation on ‘The Role of Materials and Materials Science in a Sustainable Future’.

After the poster presentations, a panel of materials science graduates discussed their career paths and opened the floor to questions from the interns. The panellists were:

  • Prof Alessandro Mottura – Professor of Physical Metallurgy, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Maria Nelson – Portfolio Manager, Williams Advanced Engineering
  • Dr Nick Rimmer – Head of Business Engagement, Henry Royce Institute Hub
  • Dr Lata Sahonta – Facilities Manager, Henry Royce Institute Cambridge
  • Dr David Stanley – Training and Skills Manager, Henry Royce Institute Hub

The discussion spanned topics including the value of materials science, entrepreneurship, differences and similarities between research within academia and industry, and what to consider when choosing a PhD project.

Quotes and highlights from the Zoom conference were live-tweeted on Royce’s main Twitter account, and can be found under the hashtag #RoyceSummerInternConference.

Plans are in place to run the internship programme again over the summer of 2021.