Swansea Student organises first Welsh Physics Student Conference

Swansea University hosted the first All-Wales conference for Physics students - Directions in Physics. Seventy students from across the country met the CEO of the Institute of Physics and viewed presentations on aspects of Physics, employability and wide range of opportunities available to physicists in the region.

Welsh Physics Student ConferenceSwansea University hosted the first All-Wales conference for Physics students on 21st April.  In spite of the counter-attractions of the glorious weather, 70 undergraduate and postgraduate students attended from every Welsh University with a Physics department – Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea – plus some Open University students living in Wales.  The conference - Directions in Physics: a conference for Welsh Physics Students - was highly successful and is hoped to be the first one of annual or two-yearly student conferences.

The inaugural conference was organised by Adam Powell with the support of fellow students in the Swansea Physics Society.  Adam is a final year student who is the Institute of Physics campus ambassador for Swansea and member of their national committee for Wales. When asked what would improve the experience of physics students in Wales, Adam suggested local meetings which students could attend at minimum cost of their time and money.   The Institute challenged him to organise a conference at Swansea and provided funding and support, along with funding from the Swansea Employability Academy, for which Adam and our Physics Department are very grateful.   This meant that the conference was free to all students, with transport provided, which was a factor in the high attendance level.

The conference theme was employability and, more specifically, why Wales is a great place for physicists to work; so as well as talks from all three universities on their research and departmental specialisms, there were a number of speakers from industry.  These included:

Dr Mariusz Pietrzyk from Renishaw who spoke on medical robotics

Bethan Halliwell a European Patents attorney with Withers & Rogers who specialises in intellectual property law for Electronics, Computing & Physics

Dr Hazel Trenbith, from the Office for National Statistics   who has a PhD in geography from Swansea

Wendy Sadler MBE, from Science Made Simple

Paul Hardaker, CEO of the Institute of Physics was present and talked about his working life as a physicist, the wide range of opportunities available to physicists, and industry partnerships with academia and the opportunities for students this could offer.    

Professor Hardaker arrived the afternoon before the conference and was given a tour of our Physics Department by Professor Ken Meissner, Head of Physics Which included visits to study spaces, research labs and the centre for nanohealth

Prof. Hardaker said: It’s an exciting time for Welsh physics at the moment, both as a place to study and to work. Bringing Welsh physics students together to share their experiences and to hear more about these opportunities was a great initiative and based on this year’s success we will definitely want to repeat this. A huge thanks to Swansea physics department for their support and for being such welcoming hosts.

Prof. Meissner said:  It was both a pleasure and honour for the Department of Physics at Swansea University to host the inaugural Welsh Physics Student Conference. The student response was great and shows the strength of the Physics community in Wales. I would like to thank the Institute of Physics for their support and all the speakers for their time. Finally, I would like to recognise Adam Powell and the Swansea Physics Society for their dedication in making the event such a success.