By Michael Ray
“This is a starting point to further develop my skills and broaden my range of knowledge, as well as sparking an interest in activities I didn’t think I would like, such as plant biology.” – Anonymous feedback
The Science and Engineering Award returns this month offering students the opportunity to gain skills in subjects outside their field of study.
Beginning on Monday 21st May 2018, the award presents introductory and specialized sessions, offering students a wider range of knowledge to help prepare them for the future. It is also a chance to have fun while learning and potentially develop a new hobby.
We speak with Dr Lindsey J. Munro, theoretical chemist at Manchester Metropolitan University and lead of the Science and Engineering Extra-Curricular Award, to find out more.
She says, “During the award you get to do many things, you can make games, visit a courtroom… this year you can even build your own ECG heart monitor.”
To receive the award, students will need to compete at least 30 hours of activities over a three week period. This includes taking part in at least five different activities, ten hours of which are spent within interdisciplinary study. Alternatively, the award can also be completed over multiple years if students struggle to meet the requirements the first time around.
Dr Munro explains, “I find that some of the activities are ‘I didn’t think I would enjoy those,’ activities that people never thought to try but end up loving, and I think getting over that mental barrier is good.
“If you’re in a position where you don’t know what is going on it’s easier to make friends and talk to new people and is something essential in later life. Not to mention, it looks good on a CV. In the end the main point of the award is that it’s just interesting.”
Despite its name, the award is not just aimed at Science and Engineering students and hopes to provide anyone with far reaching interests the chance to participate and gain new skills. Previous participants have come from all over the university, from fashion to computing. We ask how this award can benefit those studying outside of Science & Engineering courses:
“When you enter a new job you need to be able to show you can go in and adapt to different environments. For example, if you work in a marketing team, you’re going to have to work with the scientists and researchers. It can only help to have a better understanding of what they are talking about.”
Dr Munro continues, “Beyond that you can look back after three hours of a new activity and be amazed at how far you’ve progressed.”
There are a large variety of activities that run over the three weeks, and some students may be overwhelmed when they look at the timetable, what highlights of the award should people look out for?
Dr Munro smiles and begins, “Leadership and Teamwork is always a good choice for anyone. It is run by really nice people who give you basic training, but also improve your skills in strategic planning, general teamwork and leadership. Leadership isn’t something you get to practice through a standard course… a chance to practice these skills should be a great opportunity.”
She adds, “I also recommend the Raspberry Pi game creation. We host Raspberry Pi Jams at the university, so if you love it there are continual ways for you to develop what you learn. 3D printing and 3D film are always fun too. Of course, ice cream making is always tons of fun as well. To be completely honest, it is all worth looking at.”
Dr Munro is clearly passionate about this award and reaching out to students to get them involved in new things. What motivates her to run the award year after year?
“The people I meet through various activities in my life are still some of my closest friends. You forge closer relationships with people by doing things outside of your comfort zone. I also think these insights into cool stuff people do in different disciplines is something unique we offer. We create opportunities to find new interests that usually can’t be found during a student’s course.”
As the academic year ends, many students may find themselves with a lot of time to spare, to which Dr Munro has this to say: “People might think ‘Uh, I’m tired’ once their exams are over, but it’s only 30 hours over three weeks and it should give people something fun to do once their main course is over.”
To have a look at the timetable of activities you can attend this year, click here
To learn more about the Science and Engineering Extra-Curricular Award visit, mmu.ac.uk/sci-eng-award/