EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Molecular-Scale Engineering
- a Centre for Nanotechnology
CDT student
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The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Molecular-Scale Engineering brought together internationally-leading researchers at the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield to train high calibre science and engineering graduates in the control of molecular organization and function at the nanometre scale.

Our Centre was dedicated to training doctoral scientists in new technologies for molecular scale engineering. It provided a carefully structured programme of taught, cross-disciplinary training, with hands-on access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, and the opportunity to pursue doctoral training with world-class academics working at the forefront of molecular scale engineering. A bespoke programme of cohort-building activities together with transferable skills and personal development was also designed to complement the scientific and engineering training.

Course structure

The Universities of Sheffield and Leeds have over a decade of experience in jointly delivering Masters and Doctoral level training. Of particular importance are our nanofolio programmes in nanotechnology, the longest established and most successful in the UK, and we drew upon these extensive resources for this Centre, including extensive training in the basic elements of nanotechnology, nanofabrication and bionanotechnology.

We designed a customized taught programme over two years interleaved with increasing PhD research, which combined lecture-based delivery with a challenging programme of laboratory-based training to immerse students in cross-disciplinary thinking.

New and distinctive elements of training included:
• an introductory residential conference, to help students orient themselves in the new field and get to know other members of the cohort and the academic staff involved in the Centre;
• an extensive advanced laboratory course, that included, for all students, hands-on training in clean-room techniques, atomic force microscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, for example;
• laboratory ‘rotations’ to enable students to sample different areas of research in the actual research environments before committing to their PhD programme of research;
• a programme of training that was not simply an MSc followed by a PhD, but which was instead a PhD with Integrated Studies;
• ‘student-centred’ learning programmes, in which a course of study was tailored to meet each student’s individual needs;
• a formal training element in transferrable skills, and a personal development plan;
• the opportunity for industrial placements with companies whose business relies upon molecular-scale engineering, and international placements in world-leading laboratories in the field;
• student conferences and Summer Schools, featuring international leaders in the field.

Because of the geographical proximity of Sheffield and Leeds, commuting between sites was straightforward, and was a proven model in our previous collaborative programmes. All necessary travelling expenses were provided by the programme.

Each student’s PhD research programme was developed in conjunction with the student during their first year at the Centre, and was based at either Sheffield or Leeds depending on the particular research project and required facilities.

Download a copy of the training plan.