The 2014 UKESF Summer School was hosted by the University of Southampton from 7-11 July for 81 students from schools across the UK

Summer School 2014

The 2014 UKESF Summer School was hosted by the University of Southampton from 7-11 July for 81 students all from different schools across the UK.

The course was delivered jointly by:

From the universities

The students heard lectures from leading academics on their research.  Prof Mark Nixon speakingProf Mark Nixon speaking on biometricsfrom leading academics on their research. Prof Mark Nixon of the University of Southampton talked about his work on biometrics where computer vision and image processing are applied to the automatic identification of individual human gait. And there were other lectures on areas including:

  • Monitoring glacier behaviour with sensor networks from Dr Kirk Martinez from the University of Southampton
  • How modern radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers are made efficient and reliable for today’s demanding communications market from Prof Johannes Benedikt from Cardiff University.
  • The world’s first bio-inspired artificial pancreas for treating diabetes from Dr Pantelis Georgiou from Imperial College London.

They also worked on lab projects with 3 female students working on traffic light controllerStudents implementing their Traffic Light Controller with university academics, researchers, undergraduate electronic engineering students (including UKESF scholars) and lab technicians to get some hands-on electronics experience. They learnt to implement a simple traffic light controller using logic gates with Dr Geoff Merrett from the University of Southampton. The students designed, built and tested sequential digital circuits using discrete integrated circuits (ICs or chips), which contain the logic gates. Other labs included:

  • Measuring and analysing structural vibrations by constructing a circuit on a prototyping board which incorporated an accelerometer and voltage regulator, with Prof Danielle George of the University of Manchester. George presented The Royal Institution 2014 Christmas Lectures “Sparks will fly: How to hack your home” on BBC Four.
  • Exploring how integrated circuits (ICs) are built on some simple building blocks, despite their complex functionality. Working with Dr Stewart Smith from the University of Edinburgh, students investigated how characteristics of silicon metal resistors and MOFSET transistors vary with size and under different conditions.

Finding out about Electronics in Industry

Over a BBQ supper, the students networked with engineers from the sponsoring companies to find out:

  • What the companies do and make, even getting to see some demos;
  • The roles their electronics engineers undertake; and
  • The career opportunities for graduates.

And earlier that day they had presentations and a Q&A session with young engineers from ARM, CSR and Imagination Technologies presenting on their careers since graduating.

Visits to see electronics technology in action

The students were split into two groups for a day for different visits to:

  • The Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
  • The Thales UK Crawley site

STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

STFC is one of the UK’s seven publicly funded Research Councils and has a diverse portfolio, harnessing world-leading expertise, facilities and resources to drive science and technology forward for the benefit of the UK. STFC delivers fundamental insights and breakthroughs in areas ranging from particle and nuclear physics to space, laser and materials science. It also focuses on the need to meet real-world needs through new medicines, cleaner energy, safer aircraft, pioneering security solutions and much more.

The students on the Summer School had a day’s visit to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, one of the national scientific research laboratories operated by STFC. They heard from senior engineers and scientists speaking on STFC’s involvement in Big Science facilities:

  • From particle accelerators in the UK (the Diamond Light Source ) to international collaborations like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN;
  • From cutting edge ground based astronomy to the challenges of developing instruments for space missions; and
  • On the microelectronic design that sits at the heart of all this engineering, the sensors that allow us to see the science.

The speakers included experts from Particle Physics, Technology, RALSpace, and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

Students toured the Diamond Light Source. The also met with STFC engineers and scientists over lunch and during the day to discover the opportunities to become involved in the microelectronic engineering that underpins this fundamental science research.

Thales UK

Thales is behind some of the most exciting technological innovations and is an industry leader across the aerospace, defence, security and transport sectors. Did you know that Thales:

  • Secure over 80% of financial transactions in the UK?
  • Every time you take a train journey it is behind the technology that helps you arrive safely at your destination?
  • From flight simulators and in-flight entertainment, to the Oyster Card and National Rail app, Thales technology is behind the scenes?

The students visited Thales’ largest UK site at Crawley to get an insight into some of Thales’ most innovative and cutting edge technology. They toured various facilities at the site which includes:

  • flight and vehicle simulators
  • manufacturing and microwave labs
  • a connectivity suite
  • and much more…

Students also heard from a senior Thales engineer about what “Systems Engineering” is, and from two engineering graduates who shared their experiences and career highlights. Over lunch they networked with more of Thales’ engineers and intern students getting a further opportunity to explore the range of engineering careers available in the industry.

What the students had to say:

“The week was action packed and the course was very well organised with a wide range of activities.”

“I enjoyed the course, being able to use the same facilities as those I’d use as an undergraduate gave me an insight to what EEE would be like at university.”

“I really enjoyed the course. It’s definitely helped confirm my choice of study at university.”

“The student mentors were exceptionally helpful and friendly both in describing their experiences of university life and course and assisting in activities.”