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The Academic Industry Model for Doctoral Training

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Elaine Martin, Professor Gary Montague, Dr Bryn Jones


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The Academic Industry Model for Doctoral Training EngD Biopharmaceutical Process Development E.B Martin1, G. Montague2 and B. Jones3 1EngD Director; 2Professor of Bioprocess Control; 3Dean of Postgraduate Studies Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, England UK UK industry has successfully relied on the implementation of advanced science and technical capability to remain ahead in fields such as drug development. However the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (SEMTA) report stated that over a quarter of bioscience companies do not have sufficient science skills. 39% of bioscience/ pharmaceutical companies have long-term vacancies; with 22% having skill shortages in the science arena (five times that for other sectors). Our objective in terms of the submission and award of an EPSRC funded Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Biopharmaceutical Process Development was to directly address this shortfall through the training of graduates who have the necessary skills set to address this gap. Twelve EngD researchers commencing their studies every year is addressing the longer term training requirements and the industrially embedded nature of the programme serves to deliver research that satisfies industrial need. The EngD provides in-depth training in research and project management, coupled with business and commercial awareness and is supported by large multinational pharmaceutical companies through to equipment suppliers and SMEs. Challenges facing such a programme include (i) University procedures and alignment with current quality assurance policies, (ii) industrial participation, and (iii) student recruitment / monitoring. The EngD differs to the one + three model of the integrated PhD programme and other such programmes where an MRes or equivalent qualification is awarded after year one. For the EngD Biopharmaceutical Process Development, the modular component is spread throughout the duration of the four years although there is an exponential drop in the number of modules attended by the students during this period. An additional feature of this programme is that the modular element is collaborative. The diversity of projects necessitates the students studying a range of modules that enables them to tackle the multi-disciplinary nature of the research challenges. Economy of scale is an thus an issue and not having all the expertise within one university has resulted in the modular programme becoming collaborative with the EngD Formulation Engineering Centre at Birmingham University. This is a benefit to the programme in terms of the diversity of modules available and sets it apart from the majority of the other Centres in the UK. Working with industry raises a number of challenges including company recruitment, ensuring that the research project is of a standard commensurate with the award of an EngD and IPR. The securing of 60 industrially supported projects over a five-year period is fundamental to the programme. The current economic landscape could potentially impact on company recruitment but the shortfall in trained personnel in the area of the Centre has resulted in this not being an issue to date. Additionally the EngD model is seen by industry as a powerful tool as the student is typically based in the company full-time and thus are exposed to the challenges of working in industry and delivering against medium term goals. This aspect differentiates the students from their PhD counterparts. A further challenge with regard to placements is that they align with the expectations of the EngD students. This includes identifying whether an SME or large multi-national is more appropriate as the two groups provide contrasting experiences for the students. For example in a SME, a student has greater opportunity to understand the business as a whole whilst in a large multi-national, the student may face longer term research challenges. Student recruitment is thus intrinsically linked to industrial placements. In summary, the student must satisfy three criteria (i) academic excellence, (ii) ability to work in an industrial environment and (iii) excellent communication skills. This results in the students once short-listed being interviewed separately by the academic Directors and if successful at this stage they are then interviewed by perspective company partners. This has resulted in the most academically and outfacing students being recruited onto the programme. In summary the discussion will be based around the programme and in particular the challenges of setting up and the execution of the EngD that combines a modular component alongside the requirement to undertake a research project within an industrial environment. While the challenges from an academic perspective merit careful attention, the rewards of the EngD programme are significant for the University, the company and particularly the student.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Martin EB; Montague G; Jones B

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 2nd International Conference on Professional Doctorates

Year of Conference: 2011

Number of Volumes: 1

Pages: 147-148

Publisher: UK Council for Graduate Education


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780952575183