On reflection: Benefits of EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research membership.

Prior to the recent refresh of EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research, the original members of the forum were asked to reflect on what they have gained by being part of it. The response of members was overwhelmingly positive with regard to their experience as members of the forum which is the first of its kind to be run by EPSRC. The following list is a summary of the stand-out points that came out of that discussion.

  • The development of new collaborations: giving new funding opportunities, joint publications between members, access to wide range of technical expertise, and the development long term contacts. Many of the developed collaborations are interdisciplinary, reflecting well on the diverse make-up of forum membership.
  • Working with people at a similar career stage and sharing collective experiences.
  • Useful discussions on different university practices with regard to teaching and learning, as well as research.
  • Excellent and enlightening technical discussions with others on the forum and a general broadening of understanding of the challenges across disciplines.
  • The wide variety of senior guest speakers, each of whom gave a useful and differing perspective to take away on career development in academia. One thing apparent to forum members was that they are subject to a different set of pressures than those the senior guest speakers might have experienced as early career researchers, due to the changing landscape.
  • A better understanding EPSRC’s internal workings, including structure and process as well as the development of direct contacts into the funding council.
  • Useful input on the topic of mobility which helped address questions about the benefits of staying at one institution versus moving around.
  • The opportunity to see other universities and the facilities therein, especially through lab tours.
  • Increased awareness of and indirect engagement with, the development of the policy through the presence of an ECF member on the Manufacturing the Future SAT panel.
  • Increased confidence and credibility.
  • Understanding departmental support in institutions and understanding what is reasonable to request in terms of support.
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