I attended the HEaTED South Coast Regional Network Event, which was held at the University of Southampton on the 18th of December. Attendance was excellent, and we were welcomed by Pam Morgan and Sue Churn, who updated us on the recent changes on work of the HEaTED network, including the introduction of the CATTS tool for staff assessment. Tamsyn Smith followed with a presentation about online presence and social media. I was surprised to see, from the rather natty online polling she conducted of the room (using Mentimeter), that I was the only person that blogged!
This was followed by what was for me the highlight of the day – Hendrik Ulbright gave a presentation on quantum physics that although intellectually challenging, was humorous and accessible. It was of particular interest to me as I’m currently in the middle of Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw’s book “The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen”. He clearly knew his audience and made a number of knowing references to the impossible things he asks of his technicians and their ability to assist in completing his technically complex experiments (one of which involved swinging half a tonne of lead about!).
The afternoon consisted of a couple of presentations designed for public outreach – one from the mobile planetarium (Astrodome) and another from the physics department on lasers (Light Express). We designed and deliver outreach activities as part of the University of Southampton’s Science and Engineering Day, as well as to visiting school groups, and it is useful to see what others are doing and how they present their work.
Along with professional registration, networks like HEaTED are slowly changing the image of science technicians across the UK from the stereotype of bottle washers and technomancers to better reflect the professional scientists we are.