Dr Radu Sporea
Raeng Academic Research Fellow, Nanoelectronics Centre, University of Surrey
What type of projects to you offer?
We offer Nuffield students the opportunity to undertake projects in the fields of nanotechnology, robotics, electronic and space engineering as well as other applied engineering fields.
What motivates you to provide placements?
I am interested in teaching and the usefulness of completing science related placements for A-level students. I had several small research problems with no time allocated to them, which are perfect for a month-long investigation.
What do you feel are the main benefits to both your organisation and to the students taking part in the scheme?
Improving teaching expertise, developing links with schools in addition to giving something back to community. It has also helped us to position ourselves as an institution that is willing to offer career-changing opportunities to young people. For the students, they are given the chance of working with the best equipment and some of the best world-leading scientists, experiencing first-hand the life of a researcher. I would say that the entire experience helps them to boost their confidence, improve their CV and provide them with the realisation that their dreams may be within their reach: all in all, it gives students an excellent ‘head start’.
What personal skills would you say members of your team gained from supervising a Nuffield student?
Project planning and time management, general teaching skills, public engagement and enthusing non-experts. Staff involved in the scheme have also gained the ability to tailor material and work to the students' needs, skills and personality.
Has the scheme helped you to communicate your area of science to a wider public?
Electronic engineering has the problem of being everywhere and somehow being taken for granted. We need to show youngsters that electronic gadgets are not just made in a sealed factory on a different continent, but designed by gifted engineers who are pursuing their passion. The Nuffield Research Placement scheme provides an ideal platform for such engagement work.