UK Metamaterials Network
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The UK Metamaterials Network (the UKMMN) brings together experts from academia, industry, and government agencies to resolve interdisciplinary challenges for this exciting field of emerging materials from theory, fabrication, experiment, to large-scale manufacturing and field testing. In September 2022, the UKMMN (via the University of Exeter) commissioned Research Consulting (RC) to support the design, analysis and reporting of a survey focused on industry and research user perspectives of doctoral skills and training in metamaterials. The survey explored employer perceptions of the skills needs and available in doctoral graduates, the impacts this has on industry, and how any skills gaps can be addressed. The primary purpose of the report is to inform the development of future programmes for doctoral training, including the (then) forthcoming call for EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training.
Responding organisations were active collaborators with universities and significant employers of doctoral graduates.
Responses identify metamaterials as an area of emerging opportunity for the UK, with acknowledged strengths in the underpinning science and need to see this successfully translated into a range of commercial applications. Doctoral training will play an important part in this, but wider support from the UK’s research and innovation funders is needed to support specific projects and (importantly) networking across R&D and supply chain organisations.
When seeking to employ doctoral students the importance of strong technical skills in terms of the subject area and discipline are sought, but what emerges strongly is the importance of a wider set of knowledge, competencies and behaviours critical to successful progression into industrial R&D employment.
The added value of CDT-based doctoral training is recognised by these employers and is identified as (i) enhanced skills and experience of individual students, and (ii) in terms of the CDT providing industry partners with access to a wider range of research, relevant networks (academic and industry) and a pool of students (for potential recruitment).
Research Consulting exceeded our expectations in all areas, from their expert advice in the initial survey development phase to prompt responses, proactive communication and follow-ups, and the professional, high quality delivery of the final report. They are a joy to work with.UK Metamaterials Network