Hidden Heroes

By 10th July 2019 Blog, Events, News
MMU professionally registered technical staff

Technical staff at Manchester Metropolitan University received their Professional Registration certificates at the Technical Services Conference on the 14th of June 2019. All photos credited to Paul Heyes, Manchester Metropolitan University.

By Dr Sara Bacon, Centre Manager at the NTDC

Manchester Metropolitan University Technical Services Conference 14 June 2019

As my first Technical Services conference event in the new world of the Technician Commitment, I was excited to find out as much as I could about the support and services that can help raise the profile of technicians and support their development and engagement.

The conference of  around 220 delegates began in the impressive Business school building, with plenty of exhibits showcasing the specialist technical skills across the University, followed by a warm welcome from Natalie Kennerley, the Technical Services Development Manager.

Professor Karen Moore, Chief Operating Officer summarised the current and future aims of Manchester Metropolitan University with a clear focus on the important role that technical services play in supporting academic research, student success and recruitment. She was passionate about people being central to driving success.

Tracey Dickens, from the Gatsby foundation gave a Technician Commitment update on the 82 Institutions signed up, sharing many examples of excellent practice. Dedicated technician webpages, technician awards from external bodies, formation of technical communities and authorship on papers were just some examples of how these HEIs view the importance of technical staff development.

It was interesting to view the One Year In Technicians Make It Happen video which offered an insight into progress so far from some of the first signatories to the Technician Commitment, University of York being one of these and one of our Partner Affiliates.

Many of the 250 technicians from Manchester Metropolitan University were present at the event, participating in the vast array of sessions on offer. From an insight into the Print City 3D printing and digital manufacturing, Superlabs that support teaching and research, through to professional development, mindfulness and the benefits of mentoring sessions.

Print City stand

Picture by Paul Heyes, Friday June 14, 2019, Manchester Metropolitan University.

The Print City session highlighted the skills required in Industry4.0; innovation, education, collaboration and 3D. Student projects centred on generating solutions to problems in areas such as housing and medical prosthetics. For example, designing a prosthetic limb to match a wedding dress and producing lightweight 3D printed running shoes based on a footscan for Mo Farrah.

The Benefits of Mentoring session proved to be an interesting and interactive workshop, with attendees taking on the role of mentor and mentee to discuss the roles and expectations of both participants in such a scheme.

Lunchtime offered the chance to network, as well as visit the exhibition space with stands on health (SimMan and anatomy simulation), print (sublimation fabric printing), food development (synthetic and natural dye taste tests), science and technology (racing car simulation). There was also the opportunity to have a tour of the Arts Degree Show featuring work from 1000 graduating students.

A highlight of the event was the keynote speech from Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut in space. As president of the IST, Helen voices strong support to the technical community, so it was great to hear her story as a Space Technician. Helen spoke of her unexpected success in being chosen to train as an astronaut and described embracing the personal development opportunities that presented themselves and utilising the team’s technical abilities.

A fascinating collaborative project that involved technical expertise was the Oubliette student project, which won a Guardian Teaching award for Teaching excellence and allowed 1500 pupils from the North West to interact with the exhibition and overcome their fear of Mathematics in an Escape Room with a difference.

The day finished with the award of technician prizes including best newcomer and best researcher, and closed by Kate Dixon, Head of Technical services and Natalie Kennerley.

Many thanks to Natalie Kennerley, Kate Dixon, Laura Arnott and all the Technical Services conference committee for inviting the NTDC to the event. We look forward to working with Manchester Metropolitan University and their technical community in the near future.

NTDC, MMU and IST representatives

From left: Terry Croft MBE, Pauline Ford, Dr Helen Sharman OBE, Natalie Kennerley and Dr Kate Dixon. Picture by Paul Heyes, Friday June 14, 2019, Manchester Metropolitan University.