Cohort Teambuilding for new CDT students

Shortly after starting their doctoral journeys, the cohort of 22 students came together for the first time in mid-October in York. But before getting fully into the team discussions, we first had fun together exploring the beautiful city of York. For some nice teambuilding, the CDT cohort visited Mindlock Escape Games’ escape rooms just beside Clifford’s Tower. Divided into teams of 4-5, the students pooled together their smarts to make it out in time before the other teams, and all the teams were successfully able to escape. It is obviously more value for money to spend the entire hour inside the room, so my team and I [strategically] pushed the timer to fifty-nine minutes before finally escaping (no, seriously!).

First year CDT students after they have completed an escape room.

At the escape room

After some group photographs in wizard hats and Viking helmets, everyone headed to Coffee Yard for the start of Streethunt Games’ treasure hunt, split into teams named after different fusion facilities. This was a great teambuilding activity as it allowed us to explore the streets of York while playing the part of a private investigator. Along with Katy and Hillary from the YPI Admin team, the students got to explore several landmarks in York such as the Shambles, the Museum Gardens, St Mary’s Abbey and even stumbled across Guy Fawkes’ Inn. Indeed, that pub break was much needed. Once finished, the teams united as one and swarmed Las Iguanas for a delightful dinner and relaxed evening.

Three CDT students outside in York reading treasure hunt clues on their phones and chatting

Treasure hunting in York

Fast-forward a few months, approaching Christmas, and many of us found ourselves exhausted having been through many intense CDT courses; a week away from all this was due. Good thing that Away Week had arrived. With a limited budget and an entire hostel booked by the YPI admin, the students took it upon themselves to organise some teambuilding down in Beverley. Reconvening late afternoon on a Monday at the YHA Beverley Friary Hostel, the students began to arrive to a large pile of groceries and a lot of bread – courtesy of the Away Week committee going for a big grocery shop to prepare for the meals to come. After having dinner, we didn’t hang around for too long before heading to bed to make sure we were ready for the next day.

During the away week, the students participated in a “design a reactor” game, where they split into teams (such as engineering, diagnostics, economics, etc.) to design a fusion reactor, encompassing power plant and considering costs and timelines. Through a vote, it was decided that the reactor would be a stellarator, and then the tasks were divided between the relevant teams. This activity was spread over several days and the product was a detailed presentation on our homemade reactor, the Superconducting Thermonuclear Advanced Reactor (STAR). Overall, this was a great activity and taught the students the importance of good teamwork within the team and good communication between the different teams.

Although building a reactor was a large part of the Away Week, our itinerary also included a visit to Escape Rooms Beverley, and a leisurely morning stroll exploring the town of Beverley. Some students had searched the hostel and found some chess and checkers boards that sparked some impromptu games that carried on throughout the 4 days. Teams came together in the evening after dinner, kicking back with drinks and swapping stories that ranged from hilarious mishaps to heartwarming moments. A special thanks to the Away Week committee who wonderfully planned all the activities and organised the food – without their efforts this would not have been possible!

Yahya Nasir, First year CDT Student