The Photonics Academy at OpTIC

Paul Cheni, Lareto School Manchester, Summer 2006Project provider name: OpTIC with Ray Davies as the Project Mentor within the Photonics Academy at OpTIC.

To find out more about the Photonics Academy at OpTIC you can download the following information sheet.

Where research placements take place: OpTIC, St Asaph, North Wales.


How many years has OpTIC offered placements to Nuffield students?
Ray Davies has been a Nuffield Research Placements Laser Photonics Project Mentor for the last 10 Years in the Laser Photonics Project Design Laboratory in the Department of Physics at the University of Salford.

In July and August 2007, this will be the first year in which OpTIC will be offering 8 Nuffield Research Placement opportunities for Sixth Form Students from North Wales Schools and colleges.

How will the scheme be run within OpTIC?
Annually, OpTIC is prepared to accept up to 12 individual Nuffield Research Placement Student Project Placements.

2. In 2007, OpTIC will be offering Nuffield Research Placement opportunities to 8 North Wales Sixth Form students.

3. Each individual Student Project will be supervised by Ray Davies within the Photonics Academy at OpTIC.

4. After identifying each potential Nuffield student, each student is invited, well before the Project commencement, to visit OpTIC to be provided with an informative introduction to the realm of Laser Photonics.

5. During this visit to OpTIC, each student is provided with visually attractive demonstrations of some of the 200 novel Low Powered Laser Photonics Projects that have been designed and constructed by 15 – 25 year old students during the last 13 years within this Laser Photonics Project Design facility. Many of these working Laser Photonics Projects are highly innovative Projects that have been created by former Nuffield Nuffield Research Placements students. The Laser Speckle Activated Robotic Hand, created in 2005 as a Nuffield Student Project, is a typical example of the insight, the imagination, and the ingenuity that can lead a student towards the invention of an amazingly impressive Project outcome during a Nuffield Science Bursary opportunity.

Rebecca Kennedy, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Summer 20066. After this initial introduction to the 21st Technology of Laser Photonics, inquiries are made as to the particular scientific interests of each of the Nuffield students. Then, detailed discussions are held as to how some of these individual interests might be incorporated into a valuable and worthwhile highly innovative Laser Photonics Project.

7. Each individual Student Project will involve Laser Photonics Sources, Fibre Optic Waveguides, and Opto-electronics Transducers.

8. A mutually acceptable start-date for the 4 weeks Nuffield Project Placement is agreed with the student, this Laboratory work being carried out within the Photonics Academy at OpTIC, and supervised by Ray Davies, together with other specialist OpTIC Staff Tutors. Each student is provided with a designated work area, and appropriate high quality equipment, within the Photonics Academy at OpTIC. Training and instruction are provided during the 4 weeks period, through Project Based Learning experiences, in the new Technologies that are employed in each individual Project.

9. Each Nuffield student is encouraged to think imaginatively in order to create a highly original and valuable innovative Laser Photonics Project. Facilities are available for the empirical investigations, the observations, the testing procedures, and the detailed recording of all such information, all of which are essential components in the design and construction of the working Project itself. In addition, the students will be guided towards the creation of a high quality Scientific Report, together with a Project PowerPoint Presentation resulting from the achievements and skills acquired during the Nuffield Research Placement opportunity.

10. Each student will be encouraged to present their Nuffield Project for consideration as an application for a Gold CREST award.

What do you feel the main benefits of the scheme are?
Nuffield Research Placements provide the students with an opportunity to imagine, and to realize, the design and construction of a new and highly original applications of Low Power Laser Photonics.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with an opportunity to engage in topics within a Scientific and Engineering context that are well beyond their normal Sixth Form experience, but which are highly relevant to,as well as being very complementary to their present, and to their immediate future, academic studies.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with an opportunity to apply their School, as well as their newly acquired knowledge, to really practical and valuable Science and Engineering involvements.

Ed Wilson, Stockport Grammer School, Summer 2006Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with an incentive to engage in some real scientific investigations that result in the design and construction of a new application of Low Power Laser Photonics ideas and concepts.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with knowledge that the scientific world is interested in them as Scientists, and is keen to provide them with opportunities to commence some really valuable and challenging investigative procedures.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with some truly “hands-on” experience of Science and Engineering principles that will be of immense value to them in their FE and HE encounters in the future.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with the knowledge that their contribution towards Scientific investigations is recognized as being of some financial value to the outside world.

Nuffield Research Placements provide the selected students with a truly amazing sense of personal achievement, in that they can create a highly imaginative, and useful, application within realms of some modern, and fast developing, new Technology.

For the Placements within the Photonics Academy at OpTIC in 2007, these imaginative applications of Laser Photonics will be specifically designed to be applications that will be of immense potential help to other people. Earlier experience of this “helpful to other people” approach to Nuffield Projects provides a vast amount of evidence that students are very enthused, encouraged, and inspired, by their realization that they are contributing novel ideas and realizations that are using modern Technology in a way that is helpful to other people.

Would you recommend the scheme to others?
Ray Davies already does act as an “unofficial Ambassador” for the Nuffield Research Placements Scheme during his many Tours, involving Laser Photonics Master Class Presentations, in Schools all around the UK. His experience highlights that it is the minority of Heads of Science within Schools who actually know about the Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme, and hence only a small minority of Lower Sixth Form students are able to incorporate this Nuffield opportunity within their Summer Vacation planning. Once the information is made known to Heads of Science, and particularly to their Lower Sixth Form students, the interest and enthusiasm for the Scheme, from Staff and students alike, is immense.

The difficulty is that there are many more students who would welcome the Nuffield Research Placements opportunity than there are Placements available.

Sarah Wilkinson, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Summer 2006Through the experience of working with Nuffield students for several years, Ray Davies has, perhaps “uniquely”, the advantage of having supervised a great number of impressive working Projects that incorporate Low Power Laser Photonics in highly imaginative, and in visually attractive, formats.

Hence, when demonstrating the personal achievements of many Nuffield students, he does not need “to tell” anyone how valuable are the Nuffield Research Placements opportunities – he is able “to show” anyone how valuable are the Nuffield Science Bursary opportunities, through practical demonstrations of former Nuffield Laser Photonics Projects. It is this unique experience of creating novel working Laser Photonics Projects that makes it so easy to influence, and to encourage, so many Lower Sixth Form students to want to undertake their own design and construction of more Laser Photonics Projects within the Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme.

The Nuffield Research Placements Scheme not only provides valuable experience for students to become involved with real scientific and engineering challenges, and the students’ own ideas and solutions to these challenges, but it also brings together a whole community of Lower Sixth Form students.

This enables the students to realize that they are growing up in the development of their scientific knowledge and interest within a wide body of other highly talented, and very able, fellow students who are all working enthusiastically to push a little further forwards the boundaries of Science and Engineering, even at their young age.