The Academy (WRIPA), which is led by the Universities of York and Sheffield, alongside Hull and Nottingham, was established to promote technical career opportunities for physicists and help students find placements and graduate jobs.
The University of Leeds has also been awarded a £30k grant by the Academy to develop activities for physics students to enhance their employability.
Dr Samantha Pugh, a lecturer in STEM Education and Teaching Enhancement, makes up the WRIPA team at Leeds along with Annmarie Rye, and Alison Voice, with the support of the Head of School, Helen Gleeson,
She says the team is ‘excited about the partnership’.
“This is a great opportunity to collaborate with some of our higher education colleagues across Yorkshire and to directly benefit our students,” says Dr Pugh.
“We hope that WRIPA will go some way to addressing the national STEM skills shortage by encouraging more graduates to stay in the technical sector upon graduation. Raising awareness and working with employers on skills development will certainly be a step in the right direction.”
Dr Pugh, who also who also leads the Pedagogic Research in Science and Mathematics (PRiSM), to raise the profile of pedagogic research, practice and teaching, as well as the Leeds Enhancing Educational Practice (LEEP) Network that she co-leads which focuses on evidence-based approach in teaching, said Leeds is now working with the Academy on delivering more industrial speakers, possible site visits and an increase in the number of industrial research projects for undergraduates.
There is also extensive sharing, she says, of careers and professional development resources across the network, bringing benefits to all students.
The Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE) put £2m into the WRIPA to encourage physics graduates to take up a career in the technical industry.
The academy’s role is to facilitate collaboration between students and industry by giving students hands-on experience on research and development projects, improve the quality of physics education and make students aware of career opportunities.
It recently organised and hosted the Physics Futures Careers Fair at the University of York, with over 30 employers and a number of panel discussions. All employers had year-long placements and/or graduate jobs on offer, specifically for Physicists. Over 600 students attended, with over 100 students from Leeds attending.
For more information about WRIPA, PRiSM or the LEEP network, contact Dr Pugh at: S.L.Pugh@leeds.ac.uk