Recognition and opportunity for our technical community
Technicians and technical staff are fundamental to university life. They enable teaching, research and outreach activities. As a partnership founded on supporting research excellence, Midlands Innovation recognises that ensuring recognition and opportunity for its technical community helps us to achieve our aims.
The Midlands Innovation universities have over 2100 technical staff working in their institutions. Over the past 3 years the Midlands Innovation partnership has embarked on a programme of activities designed to increase the visibility of our technical workforce, to recognise its excellence and to start to think about collaboratively supporting its career development.
The Technician Commitment is a sector wide, initiative led by the Science Council and supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Technicians Make It Happen campaign. The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines.
All eight members of the Midlands Innovation partnership were founding signatories of the Technician Commitment.
More information is available about the Technician Commitment from its website.
Higher Education Technicians Summit
In 2015 Midlands Innovation founded the UK Higher Education Technicians Summit, a national conference for technical staff working in higher education and research. Our 2017 event attracted over 500 delegates from over 60 organisations.
This national event promotes a professional identity for technical staff in higher education and beyond, Midlands Innovation delivers it in partnership with the Science Council.
The conference is the largest event held specifically for UK and Ireland HE technical staff. Its sessions focus on professional development and networking opportunities with a range of “hot topics”. The conference also discusses broader issues around technical skills and education including the importance of technical skills in driving forward innovation, and current initiatives to ensure the future provision of technical education to young people.
The next Higher Education Technicians Summit will be held on 25th June 2019 at the University of Birmingham.
In 2015, alongside the Higher Education Technician Summit, Midlands Innovation also established the Papin Prizes – a series of awards to publicly recognise technical excellence in academia.
The Papin Prizes are named after Denis Papin, a 17th century technician who worked with Robert Boyle. Papin invented the steam digester and was one of the first technicians to publish in his own name. The Papin Prizes recognise the invaluable role played by technicians in Higher Education. Their aim is:
- To provide national recognition and reward for excellence in technical services within higher education
- To raise the professional status of technicians in higher education
- Community - Aziza Alibhai, University of Nottingham
- Contribution to Infrastructure - Robert Johnston, University of Warwick
- Contribution to Research - Lisa Storer, University of Nottingham
- Contribution to Teaching - Charlotte Bland, Aston University and the University of Warwick Satellite Team
- Facility and Equipment Management - Michael Beard, University of Nottingham
- Leadership - Carl Hingley, University of Birmingham
- Lifetime Achievement - Victoria Wilson, University of Nottingham
- Outreach - Neil Barnes, University of Nottingham
- Working with Business - Val Street, University of Nottingham
Newcomer - Justyna Janus, University of Leicester
Winner of the Newcomer Prize, Justyna is an Imaging Technician at the University of Leicester’s Preclinical Imaging Facility. She said: “I was pleased to take part in the first Higher Education Technician Summit celebrating the achievements of technicians and even more delighted to receive the Newcomer Papin Prize Award. Being recognised for my work gives me satisfaction and encouragement to further develop my skills and see where my role as a technician can take me. I perform high-resolution in-vivo imaging using state-of-the-art imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and X-Ray computed tomography (CT). My role involves interacting with scientific researchers on a daily basis to deliver a high quality imaging service from study design to data acquisition, analysis and preparation of publications. This work provides me with diversity and a broad range of research projects. That gives me the opportunity to constantly expand my technical skills and knowledge, which would be unachievable without the guidance and expertise of my manager, Dr Michael Kelly. I’d like to thank the event organisers and inspirational speakers, my colleagues in Core Biotechnology Services and all of the researchers at the University of Leicester who I have worked with so far.”
- Contribution to Infrastructure - Hazel Smulders, University of Sussex
- Contribution to Research - Jennifer Haworth, University of Manchester
- Contribution to Teaching - Teresa Needham, University of Nottingham
- Core Research Facility - Matthew MacKenzie, University of Birmingham
- Newcomer - Jennifer Williams, University of Bath
- Lifetime Achievement - John Andrews, University College London
- Technical Team - University of Loughborough Textiles Technical Team
Outreach/Community - Callum Crane, Loughborough University
Callum Crane, Technician in the Department of Chemistry won the Outreach category for his work in organising Loughborough’s ‘3M – Science Detectives’ event, which saw over 100 children participating in CSI-style activities using scientific knowledge and skills to solve a mock crime. He commented: “I am honoured to have won the prize but couldn’t have done it without the support of the technical team in the School of Science. It is fantastic to see the profile of Loughborough technicians, and the important contributions they make, becoming more visible.”
Midlands Innovation Technical Staff Strategy Committee (MITSSC)
Midlands Innovation has established a Technical Staff Strategy Committee which will bring together technical managers from across the partnership to support our institutional responsibilities under the Technician Commitment and to explore innovative ways in which we can collaborate to further support our technical staff.