By Peter James, S-Lab Director
This weighty question is considered or embodied in many of the 100 parallel sessions at this year’s S-Lab Conference at the University of Birmingham on April 2-3. One stream focuses on the recent Arup report on the topic, whilst other sessions consider the impact of digitalisation on laboratory operations and skills.
The latter forms part of a laboratory management and careers stream organised in collaboration with the NTDC. It features presentations on the University of Birmingham’s Technical Academy; Nottingham’s implementation of the Science Council’s Technician Commitment; technical support in Birmingham’s new Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) and other multi-disciplinary STEM environments; and a final panel discussion on issues arising, chaired by NTDC Director Terry Croft.
The future of labs is also embodied in case study sessions on 17 new and refurbished science spaces (many shortlisted for an S-Lab Award) from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, UK and the USA. The CTL – which Ian Tidmarsh, previously of the TDM project, was heavily involved in – is the subject of 4 sessions including its use of digital technologies for pre-lab and other purposes, and can be toured as part of the Conference.
Many other sessions are of relevance to technical staff and include streams on sustainable labs (including how to minimise plastic); multi-core facilities and equipment sharing (with tours available of the Medical College’s Imaging Centre and other facilities); apprenticeships at MMU; networking for lab staff; procurement and operation of many kinds of equipment; CL3 biosafety; LIMS and networking in science environments.
University staff working with the NTDC qualify for free tickets – book via www.effectivelab.org.uk/birmingham-and-other-he-staff-free-tickets.html.