What attracted you to the role of KTP Associate:
Having worked on industrially focussed projects throughout my Ph.D. and post-doctoral research, it was clear to me that there was a huge amount of scientific know-how that could be exploited for the needs of industry. The KTP role was a route to expose cutting edge technology to a mass audience.
To what extent has your understanding of the role been realised?
A production prototype was delivered at the end of the KTP utilising a combination of respective UWS and Cambridge University developed novel optical filter and optical waveguide technology. This has set the stage for large scale production, fully satisfying the aim of the KTP.
Had you heard of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships before applying?
No, it was an advertised job opportunity via the UWS intranet.
What have been the most positive aspects of your role?
The role has enhanced my understanding of product development from initial concept all the way through to requirements for mass manufacture. Throughout my time in academia I developed a strong technical background that was lacking in project, financial and people management in a highly technical discipline. The KTP developed my skills in all of the above and has facilitated with progressing my career goals to a higher level. The complex nature of the project (and any highly technical project in general) highlighted to me the importance of having a well-rounded and experienced team with a diverse range of skill sets.
What have been your biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges I faced throughout the KTP was coming to terms with the fact that I cannot do everything myself and that delegation and teamwork are critical to the success of any project. Risk management was also a major stepping-stone for me – I learned the importance of having multiple back up plans and robust risk mitigation strategies. Initially, progressing multiple workplans in parallel was difficult for me but with the assistance of colleagues and project partners, this ultimately led to a successful completion of the project deliverables.
Describe a typical day as a KTP associate:
I would say there is no typical day in the life of a KTP associate. The associate will be introduced to a range of technical and management problems that they have not previously encountered. New and unforeseen curve balls are thrown at the associate on a daily basis, and although this may seem daunting and scary at first, once confidence was built, I learned to embrace the challenges which ultimately kept the project exciting and intellectually stimulating.
Have there been any unexpected experiences or outcomes of your role?
Having not been fully exposed to the inner workings of tech industry before, I would say the rapid rate of progress required to meet the demands of the company and the customer was rather unexpected. I was surprised by how fast such progress can be achieved when the right team is put together and a positive attitude is maintained for working towards a common goal.
What training and development have you benefitted from as a result of working as a KTP Associate?
Optical engineering can be split into two categories; interference optics and geometrical ray optics. Prior to the KTP I had highly developed skills in interference optics. The KTP T&D budget allowed me to undertake training in the Zemax Optic Studio software that developed my skills in geometrical ray optics which was crucial to the success of the project, in turn, solidifying my overall understanding of optical systems design and boosting my employment capability. Residential training at Ashorne Hill introduced me to project management at large and set the stage for further study in this field. This was followed up by undertaking Innovate UK’s Innovation Canvas Course.
How would you describe the unique experience of working as a KTP Associate?
Working as a KTP associate allows for the development of skills beyond ones primary discipline. Such skills can provide a broader view of the primary discipline and highlights the bigger picture as to where the field’s relevance lies in relation to the industry as a whole. The KTP experience extends the understanding of an academic discipline to its application and usefulness in greater society.
Would you recommend a KTP Associate role to other graduates?
I would definitely recommend the KTP Associate role to other grads/post grads. Besides higher salaries as compared with academia, a KTP position will endow the associate with broader project management skillsets and a boost in career flexibility. Even if one is more academically inclined, some of the most interesting research is done within industry which is typically well funded and in some cases, better so than academia. Working with industry still allows for peer-reviewed publication of research.
Which three words best describe your experience of being a KTP?