Long ago when I was still a student of Engineering in Trinity College Dublin I often bemoaned the relatively limited industrial engagement that we appeared to have. Apart from the career days and the “milk round” preps we didn’t seem to engage a lot with industrial partners.

How life has changed for colleges and universities today in that a lot of research funding is now coming from industrial partners and typically they have outreach programmes to attract and engage with external investors.

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At Malvern we have a number of technology development and collaboration partnerships with universities and we are always keen to engage with their events and training programmes. In line with our business I believe that we need to give something back to the community and assisting the next generation with their education is always something that I am keen to do. Along with university engagement through Malvern, I am also a Governor at my local primary school.

When an old friend and colleague from UCL (Jawwad Darr) contacts you about a NANOENERGY event that they are holding at their college, indicating that it will a good way to assist PhD students with their education, it is not a question of “will we help”, but rather “how can we help. “

So it was that I and three of my colleagues ended up at UCL for 3 days in February providing a free nanomaterials characterisation workshop to around 50 PhD students and engaging in the conference with talks and instrument systems on which the students could complete measurements.

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The energy levels and talks were at a high level and it was great to have the opportunity to interact with the students and answer questions around their particular research issues. Research and characterization challenges which came up included quantum dot sizing for photovoltaic applications, the use of SnCo nanoparticles in battery applications and the perennial issue around suitable catalysts for fuel cells.  Along with engaging with the students it was also nice to meet up with Professor Peter Dobson and Professor Ivan Parkin both of whom gave great talks on nanotechnology and transparent conducting oxides. They, like Malvern and myself, believe that it is important to assist the education of students as they are the future innovators and leaders who will eventually drive our economy.

This is what makes Malvern such a great place to work as we pride our relationships – both internal and external – over everything else. We realise that personal interaction is key and that ultimately individuals work with people that they can trust. I believe our engagement with universities on events like these helps to assist – in some small way – in shaping the insights and intellect of a new generation.

From small seeds do large oak trees grow.

I have a dream……..