UKERC Summer School

Lisa Sargeant and fellow Chemical Engineering PhD student, Jessica Sharpe attended the UKERCs Summer School at Warwick University. This post, written by Lisa describes their experience.

‘Energy security’, ‘green economy’ and ‘sustainable development’ are phrases we regularly hear in the media, but how to we actually achieve them? In January this year, the Scottish conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Crucial to keeping the lights on in years to come is an energy mix made up of renewables, nuclear and oil and gas”. This was the premise behind the UK Energy Research Centre’s (UKERC) Summer School held in Warwick from 7 – 12 July.

Visualisation of the interdisciplinary connections made.

The summer school was designed to bring together students from technical disciplines as well as social scientists and economists; only half of which were from UK universities. The other half were made up from participants as far afield as New Zealand, China and Hawaii. Places for the event were competitive, but Jess and I were fortunate to be awarded two of the 100 places.

As much on soft skills development as well as knowledge transfer, the week was broken down into formal lectures, group activities and master classes. The lectures touched on the complex nexus of the energy market, and  covered a broad range of subjects including  energy policy, the impact of US shale gas on global markets, and energy production in developing countries.

Lisa’s group answering the ‘Big Question’.

Taking place at the same time as the summer school was the annual UKERC assembly, in which members were asked to put forward the ‘Big Questions’ that were allocated for the student group presentations.  My group were asked ‘Are smart grids oversold?’, which we answered in the style of the BBC’s Question Time program (my role was to be David Dimbleby)!

With the traditional ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude, the evening activities were as wide ranging as the energy topics. These included a cultural evening, drum café and pub quiz. The week was topped-off with a fantastic ceilidh dance where everyone could truly let their hair down.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and a lot of fun. I would greatly recommend this for upcoming PhD students within the energy sector.

A final shot of the tutor group before we headed home.

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