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Transition Zone: A Training Ethos Designed to Scaffold a Ph.D. Degree

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Non-Traditional Doctoral Programs

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Carmen Torres-Sánchez Loughborough University

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Dr Torres-Sánchez is an Associate Professor at Loughborough University, England, United Kingdom, and the Executive Director of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence (CDT-EI). She is the architect of the novel Doctoral Transition Zone™ Training ethos. She has been working in industry-informed, academically-led education for more than 10 years. Her research interests are in the design and manufacture of multifunctional materials with tailored properties to meet specific requirements. These have driven the development of technology to adjust cellular structure of foams via controlled ultrasonic irradiation. She has attracted >£6.1M of funding from Government, Innovate UK and Industry to investigate materials and structures for a broad range of applications and works at the interface with manufacturing and embedded intelligence systems. She is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the United Kingdom.

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Paul P. Conway Loughborough University

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Prof. Paul P Conway CEng, SMIEEE, FIMechE is Dean of the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Manufacturing Processes at Loughborough University, UK. He is currently Principle Investigator and Chair of the Executive for the UK's Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council's (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence and was Director of EPSRC’s National Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (2004-2015). His research includes: materials processing; integration of electronics, sensors and actuation into heterogeneous systems; manufacturing technology and processes. He has delivered >£55M of research from public and industry funding that has included research in cyber-physical simulation, design tools, pervasive sensing and intelligence, and informatics.

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The Transition Zone is our bespoke training programme to support transitions through different stages in a researcher’s career: (1) into doctoral studies as a high performing researcher, (2) through doctoral studies to make the most out of their doctorate and associated training and, (3) on exiting, to empower and equip them as highly employable graduates. This paper focuses on the first (i.e. ‘Transition In’) and the second transitions (i.e. ‘Transition Through’). The purpose of this paper is to offer a programme evaluation of these two transitions in order to assess whether the training ethos fulfils the three strategic aims (i.e. continuous learning as second nature, reflection in/on action, and deliberate employability boosters).

Students have been encouraged to take ownership of their PhD and personal development from the outset (e.g. each student manages their own time, training, travel and consumables budget). The nature of the training activities has also been varied, accounting for to the student’s learning preferences, exposing students to both individual and group work, technical and non-technical training and with a strong flavour of externally-facing industry experience. A series of tests and self-awareness exercises have allowed the students to explore their own objectives and those of the program so that they dovetail, and allow an informed decision on training components to deliver a rounded engineer and/or scientist who not only is an expert in a research area but also possesses business acumen and industry-readiness that are much sought after by employers in the current global market.

Torres-Sánchez, C., & Conway, P. P. (2019, June), Transition Zone: A Training Ethos Designed to Scaffold a Ph.D. Degree Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33462

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