James Lennard, a second year Manchester Fusion CDT student, gave this account of a Pecha Kucha style online conference organised by and for Fusion CDT students:
“On Friday 9th April, second and third year CDT students gathered virtually for a student-led mini conference to compensate for the lack of a student-led event in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions. While a face-to-face conference is clearly the preferred option for fostering collaboration, conversation and chit-chat between colleagues, hosting this event digitally brought some unique advantages – in particular, the ability to submit pre-recorded materials in the event of prior commitments which would have otherwise prevented speakers from being able to share their work.
The brief was to present an overview of their projects in an informal yet concise manner for students and staff across the CDT to engage with. The “Pecha Kucha” style was selected to constrain each presentation, giving students a maximum of twenty slides lasting twenty seconds each (20 x 20) to convey the scope, aims and progress of their PhD research, often with only a single image or figure per slide (thanks for the suggestion, Roddy!). This presentation style has found large popularity among young professionals in Japan, having risen to prominence in the last decade. Leading up to the event, this format made compressing the highlights of each project challenging, but a fun and worthwhile event on the day.
Support for the event was high, with thirteen presenters going “live”, and a further three opting to pre-record their slides due to research commitments on the day. We even managed a consistent audience of thirty attendees throughout!
From the viewpoint of showcasing the breadth and depth of research being undertaken across the CDT, the event was hugely successful – garnering representation from Materials Science, Lasers and Optics, Magnetic Confinement Plasma Physics and Industrial Plasmas. In Howard’s own words, presenting information in such a constrained manner is a powerful skill to hone in terms of being able to relate specific areas of research to the “bigger picture”. This underscored the importance of being able to see how an individual project fits into the wider fusion and climate change missions which can so easily be forgotten in the usual, highly technical presentations so synonymous with PhD research.
Once again, a huge thank you to Howard and Roddy for supporting the event from the YPI side, and to our UKAEA session chairs Dr Heather Lewtas (Manufacturing Realisation) and Dr Debasmita Sammaddar (Plasma Physics) for helping us out on the day!”