Event report: Student speech contest

Clay Technology magazine
7 Jun 2019

The UK heats of the Student Speech Contest took place on 26 March 2019, at Imperial College, Royal School of Mines. Hosted by The Ceramics Society, the event seeks to find a competitor to represent the UK at the European Ceramics Society (ECerS) conference.

Two students from UK universities went head-to-head by giving presentations, in a bid to win the chance to present on the European stage.

The heat is on

Zotefoams Business Development Manager, Margaret Wegrzyn, was the lead organiser, with support from Imperial College London Professor of Structural Ceramics, Luc Vandeperre, Rolls Royce Lead Engineer and Chair of the Ceramics Science Committee, Emma Claxton, and IOM3 Manager of Information Services, Stuart Preston. The day was merged with part of the afternoon session of a one-day research meeting on advanced ceramics (1-DRAC), organised by Vandeperre.

After one candidate pulled out, two students were brought forward as finalists in the UK heat. Qiaosong Cai, from Imperial College London, presented the speech ‘Robocasting of Structural Ceramics with Core-Shell Structure’. The second candidate, Guoyang Ye, from University of Birmingham, presented ‘Pure KNN piezoelectric ceramics fabricated by two-step sintering for energy harvester’.

Each person had 15 minutes to speak, followed by a five-minute Q&A session. They were judged on oral presentation (30%), visual presentation (20%), technical understanding (20%), experimental approach (10%), knowledge of the relevance of the project in application and industry (10%) and their ability to tackle the Q&A session at the end (10%).

The judges on the day came from academia and industry. The Head Judge was Claxton, with Wegrzyn, and David Hall from the University of Manchester. The variance in topics covered by the talks - addressing both KNN piezoelectric ceramic processing and additive manufacturing - meant the judges found the competition difficult to assess but also more interesting.

The candidates were marked during their talks using a set matrix. The presentations were then discussed between the judges, where the majority agreed the winner.

The matrix scores were all added up, and it was clear that there was one winner from the panel. After deliberation, the judges came to a unanimous decision to pick Guoyang Ye, PhD student in School of Metallurgy and Materials, as the winner.

Ye and Cai, the runner up, were presented with a certificate provided by IOM3. Ye also received free entry to the ECerS conference in Turin in June, as well as the chance to represent the UK in the ECerS Student Speech Contest final.

The ECerS competition

Since the first ECerS conference in 1989, it has become an increasingly popular biannual event on a global scale for people within ceramic communities, including scientists, artists, students and industrialists. The event allows participation and direct access to the large community of international experts of ceramic art, science and technology. Last year the conference hosted around 800 participants from more than 50 countries.

One of the features of this conference is the student speech competition, in which one PhD student representative of every member country of ECerS takes part – this means there are nearly 30 entrants each time it is held.

Similarly to the competition held by The Ceramics Society, the students will give a 15-minute presentation, followed by questions from the jury and the audience. The oral presentation at the contest should be based on research work the candidate has carried out at a research institution in the country they represent.

The last winner at the EcerS conference in Budapest, 2017, was Urska Gabor from Slovenia, whose presentation topic was ‘Formation mechanism of PLD-derived Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 thin films’.

If members have selected The Ceramics Society as their primary technical division, they are automatically a full member of the European Ceramics Society. Find out more here: https://bit.ly/2V9dIpE