Archive for Higher Educatuion Academy

The New IOP Physics Technician Award

Posted in Education, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on May 8, 2019 by telescoper

Picture Credit: Cardiff University School of Physics & Astronomy

I remember a few years ago one of my colleagues when I worked in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University, Steven Baker, won an award for being the best STEM Technician in the category of Physical Sciences in the whole country! At the time this was a new award set up by the Higher Education Academy, so Steven was the inaugural winner of it.

Now there’s another new award, this time from the Institute of Physics and dedicated to Physics technicians (not necessarily in universities). I quote:

The IOP Technician Award enables the community to recognise and celebrate the skills and experience of technicians and their contribution to physics.

You can find full details of how to nominate an awardee here. The deadline is 14th June 2019. The prize is worth £1000, but more importantly it serves to encourage Physics departments to reflect on the vital role played by technicians. I feel very strongly that the contribution made by support staff in university departments is drastically undervalued.  No Physics department can run without a dedicated technical support team who apply their skills and expertise in both teaching and research laboratories. Even a department like mine dedicated purely to Theoretical Physics needs computing support, and there are many more people – including clerical staff, library staff, etc – without whom many of our activities would grind to a halt. None of these support staff gets the recognition they deserve; they are often poorly paid and lack an appropriate career structure that reflects the importance of the work they do.

As well as being a nice award this is an opportunity to remind us academics that we couldn’t do what we do without others doing all the difficult stuff!

So please get your nominations in!

Technical Support

Posted in Education with tags , , , on April 18, 2013 by telescoper

We’re approaching the end of term here at the University of Sussex and there are lots of things that need to get finished before then, so it’s a very busy day. Just time for a quick post to pass on some great news and a comment.

One of my colleagues when I worked in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University, Steven Baker, has won an award for being the best STEM Technician in the category of Physical Sciences in the whole country! This is an new award set up by the Higher Education Academy, so Steven is the inaugural winner of it.  Although I suspect he won’t enjoy being the centre of attenti0n very much I’m very pleased that he won this award. Among many other things he was central in setting up the  gear that enabled current 4th-year Cardiff MPhys students to have a much wider selection of modules, by accessing lectures from Swansea University by video link.

I’m also delighted that this award has been set up generally because I feel very strongly that the contribution made by support staff in university departments.  No Physics department can run with out a dedicated crew of technicians who apply their expertise in both teaching and research laboratories, but there are many more people – clerical staff, computer officers, etc – without whom many of our activities would grind to a halt. None of these support staff gets the recognition they deserve; they are often poorly paid and lack an appropriate career structure that reflects the importance of the work they do.

So Steven’s award is an occasion not just for him to celebrate, but also to remind us academics that we couldn’t do what we do without people like him doing all the difficult stuff!