Professor David Kennedy
Director Deputy for School of Engineering, Cardiff University
How do you select suitable projects?
We have been providing Nuffield Research Placements for three years now, taking in two students for the first couple of years but we are now increasing that as we bring more supervisors on board. Nuffield students work alongside us in the School of Engineering and the projects we select relate to our own academic research and interests in civil, structural, mechanical, manufacturing, electrical, electronic and medical engineering. This means that the projects can contribute directly to the work of the School, making the placement more relevant for the students. We also like to introduce students to new subject areas they may not have come across before to enable them to explore new and exciting areas.
What motivates you to provide placements?
This scheme provides us with a means of engaging with local schools and local students; something the School is very keen on doing. It also gives us an opportunity to introduce students to the work we do here and hopefully encourage more of them to choose to study Engineering at Cardiff. The placement gives the students a chance to take part in a new learning experience, above and beyond what they would do at school.
What benefits do you get from supporting the scheme?
The Nuffield students are able to contribute to the School of Engineering by participating in our existing areas of research and also by expanding our capacity for trialling new areas of work through feasibility studies and initial data collection.
The main benefit is the opportunity to disseminate some of our research done at the School and generally raise awareness of the work we do. Working with school and college students is beneficial to us as we are promoting the university as a place for them to study, hopefully increasing the retention of young, local talented engineers. It also provides teachers at the schools with more of an idea of the work we do and the careers available to students studying engineering, something they can pass on to many students and not just those on the Nuffield scheme.
What do the students get from the placement experience?
They get a better understanding of how research works within a university by experiencing and carrying out some of their research themselves. That is an opportunity that isn’t available through many other channels, therefore the Nuffield scheme provides a rare opportunity to get hands on experience of working in research. The work of the students has proved to be of a very high quality, some of which if extended by our researchers could potentially be published.
We also see the confidence of the students grow during the placement, something that is particularly evident when they present their work within the School. The Nuffield scheme can also lead to them achieving a Gold CREST Award which is beneficial to them when applying for university.