The First Students and Researchers Network!
During the 23rd IIR International Congress of Refrigeration held in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 21-26, 2011, the UK Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) and the IIR sponsored and organized their first Students and Young Researchers network. The event provided a great opportunity for students and early-stage researchers to meet leading experts in the refrigeration and air conditioning field (RAC). The workshop followed the concept of speed networking and was facilitated by Carol Bond from Carbon Resource Data. Dr Ina Colombo opened the session by expressing her own experience, explaining how difficult it was for her to identify where to fit in the academy/industry as a student/young researcher, especially in the current global economic crisis. She described how getting involved in projects with leading experts has significantly enhanced her capabilities and increased her career opportunities in the RAC field, which inspired her to organize this speed-networking event.
A great turn-out of 70 young researchers of over 20 different nationalities met face to face with 30 leading experts in various fields of refrigeration. The principle of the speed networking was for young researchers to interact with RAC experts and ask questions in a very short period of time with a view to helping to develop their careers.
The event was a unanimous success, as confirmed by the feedback collected by Catarina Marques, a PhD student from London South Bank University:
Young researchers commented: “Very helpful and motivating”, “Nice to speak to people in different fields”, “Good innovative idea”, ”Good to know the right people to approach”, “An event to repeat”, ”Good networking session”, ”Brilliant”, ”You gave us the permission to speak”, ”The professional barrier was dropped”, “Felt a human connection”, ”We felt that we have been listened to”.
Experts responded: Prof. Graeme Maidment: ”Very innovative session! The most common question was what skills are required to find a job. My answer was: personal soft skills are more important than technical skills”; Henk van der Ree: ”Keep optimistic, especially in this economic climate, in two to three years’ time things will get better”; Prof. Michael Kauffeld: “Don’t be afraid to approach us, we are as stupid as anybody else”; Carole Bond: “Incredibly useful, motivating, and opportunity to approach junior people”; Dr Petter Neksa: “Keep focused in your objectives, do not get distracted, write and read articles, became good in the field”; Sietze Van der Sluis: “The general feelings were that this should be repeated at other conferences and used during more workshops to interact with the students”; Marija Todorovic: “This event was the highlight of the congress”.
Representatives of the IOR and IIR closed the session by respectively stating: Dr Andy Pearson: “Great event! Please feel free to get more involved in the IOR young engineers network even if you are not from the UK; have a look on our Web site, we have will have webinars from September onwards with paper presentations, so you can take part even if you are not in the UK”; Didier Coulomb: “We at the IIR are always available to help students; you can also join the IIR as a junior member. It was a very useful workshop that we will repeat during forthcoming IIR conferences and events”.