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2015 Higher Education Technician's Summit – talent and expertise celebrated

On 30th June the 2015 Higher Education Technician's Summit was hosted at The University of Nottingham by the M5 Universities (Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick) in partnership with the Science Council. It was the largest event held specifically for UK HE technical staff to date with over 400 delegates and recognised the talents and achievements of technicians, the unsung heroes of UK HE. 

Sessions focused on professional development and networking opportunities with a range of "hot topics". The conference also focused on 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 UK skills shortage, employability and the importance of collaborative industry partnerships were also on the agenda.

Kelly Vere, Conference Chair and currently working with the Science Council to raise the profile of technicians through professional registration, said: "The Summit is the first of its kind – celebrating the achievements, skills and expertise of university technical staff. We are thrilled to have attracted inspirational speakers and the support of a number of learned societies and organisations, all of whom are fully committed to the professional recognition of technicians in higher education and beyond."

Conference keynote speakers were Dr Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, now Technical Manager, Kingston University; Prof, Sir David Greenaway, Vice Chancellor University of Nottingham, and Prof. Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, Professor and Chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group. Dr Sharman said:

"More than just enabling practical laboratory classes and research, technicians are the glue without which huge chunks of university life would fall apart. Properly recognising technical skills and ensuring full developmental support will ensure universities benefit fully from this wealth of resource. "We need people to shout out about technicians… and make our abilities shout out about us."

The inaugural Papin Prizes were awarded in recognition of excellence demonstrated by technicians in the Midlands region. Awards winners were the following:

  • Robert Johnson (Warwick University) for Contribution to Infrastructure 
  • Lisa Storer (Nottingham University) for Contribution to Research
  • Charlie Bland (Aston) and the Warwick University Satellite Team for Contribution to Teaching
  • Mike Beard (Nottingham University) for Facility & Equipment Management
  • Carl Hingley, Birmingham University for Leadership
  • Val Street (Nottingham University) for Working with Business
  • Justyna Janus, Leicester University for the Newcomer Award
  • Aziza Alibhai (Nottingham University) for the special Community Award
  • Neil Barnes (Nottingham University) for the special Outreach Award
  • Vicky Wilson (Nottingham University) for the Lifetime Achievement Award

July 2015