Plastic Electronics Winter School
Every year, two PE-CDT cohorts are invited to attend a week-long Plastic Electronics Winter School retreat in Alps.
In 2020, PE-CDT Cohorts 8 and 10 were joined by a number of CPE students, academics from Imperial College London and Oxford University and specially-invited external speakers at a new location for us: the stunning village of Canazei in the Italian Dolomites.
Each Plastic Electronics Winter School features two invited speakers in addition to academics from Imperial, Oxford and Queen Mary universities, who all give talks on their research. There is ample time for students to network and discuss their own research with speakers.
There are three aspects to the schedule for participants. Starting off with plenty of science, of course, most mornings are given to talks from academics and tutorials from our external speakers. In 2020, Ji-Seon Kim, Firat Guder, Piers Barnes, Laura Herz, James Durrant, Sandrine Heutz and Felice Torrisi all presented alongside Prof Neil Robertson of the University of Edinburgh and Dr Annamaria Petrozza of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Madrid each gave two tutorials and Dr Mario Caironi, also of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Madrid, gave a special talk. Evenings are given to student talks: where in 2020 CPE students and Cohort 10 gave 15-minute talks on their PhD research and Cohort 8 gave 5-minute flash presentations.
The second element of the schedule is taken over by the week's group project, which this year was a business start up game led by Piers Barnes. Students were grouped into teams and had to come up with business pitches around a concept related to plastic electronics. Share trading ensued with team, student and staff leagues to track value. At the end of the week, Nicotime won the prize for most investment, with Hang Yu being our top student trader. Neil Robertson topped the staff table.
Finally we ensure plenty of time for inter-cohort team building, with Wednesday night's science charades and free time for outdoor activities proving popular!
Matyas Daboczi, Cohort 8, won the staff choice award for best flash presentation said of this year's event: “I was really looking forward to the 2020 Plastic Electronics Winter School after gaining some very good experiences two years ago. However, the week spent in north Italy this year has exceeded my (quite high) expectations.
The invited talks were fantastic and relevant to my research, the student’s talks were enjoyable and high quality, which mixed together with many fun group activities and skiing on the perfect slopes of the ‘Sellaronda’ ski circuit made an unforgettable week from both scientific, social and recreational point of view.”
Chiara Labanti, Cohort 10, won the staff choice award for best PhD talk and gave really positive feedback in her summary of the week: "As my first participation in a one-week-long scientific retreat in the context of Plastic Electronics CDT Winter School in Canazei, I can summarise my experience as deeply varied and complete.
"In the framework of inter-cohort relationships, the whole week took a new aspect since even entertainment and outdoor activities were shaped in the direction of building constructive and inclusive relationships among us and with the academics and not simply to enjoy the free time in itself.
"The group challenge was a 'hybrid' component in our schedule, at the boundary between game and work, allowing us to get familiar with fundamental concepts like entrepreneurship, collaboration skills and team work which we should highly treasure for our current and future career.
"But the main scientific content of the week was undoubtedly the programme of talks from students and academics, and focused on a wide span of topics on organic and perovskite electronics. Every participant contributed to a high level of science on cutting-edge themes of research and – regardless of the field we are working in – all of us found numerous stimuli and new ideas for our work.
"In particular, for us PhD students the talks we were asked to give were probably the most demanding moment during Winter School and the largest part of the effort and tension of the week was concentrated on those 20 minutes allotted for each of us. However, considering the outcome of all our presentations in terms of quality of results, professionality in delivering them and pleasant attitude to approach the audience I am deeply satisfied to have been part of the speakers and to have learnt a huge quantity of interesting knowledge on my fellow PhDs’ research. I could not have imagined that my talk would have been appreciated like this by the academic staff and the fact I have been chosen for this award fills me with honour and it represents a great outcome among all the great outcomes of this Winter School. This positive feedback on my work is definitely going to encourage me to carry on my research as a PhD with passion and motivation. Thank you!"
In 2019, attendees came from five different universities, from three countries. We were delighted to welcome Prof Anna Köhler (University of Bayreuth, Germany) and Dr Isabel Alonso (ICAMB, Spain) who gave tutorial talks on their research.
The 2019 group project brief was to create a simple, easy-to understand video tutorial (maximum 5 minutes long), on a subject that will be useful to fellow researchers who may not already be experts in the area. Congratulations to the winning team: Alice Smith, Ryley Ratnasingham, Sally Luong, Saurav Limbu and Nicholas Siemons! For their video "The Probing at Kurhaus" explaining the importance of grounding. Luis Lanzetta-Lopez, Tom Hodsden, Helen Bristow and Gihan Ryu won second prize.
In 2017 the group project brief was to design and deliver a hands-on activity for school children to explain a scientific concept, and in 2018 the group project brief was to design and deliver a science busking activity that explains a scientific concept related to plastic electronics.
Finally, no trip would be complete without time to enjoy the many activities on offer: down hill skiing, sledging, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, ice skating and more!