By Dr Rachel Menzies, Academic Chair for the SICSA PhD Conference 2017
Planning for the SICSA PhD Conference 2017 is now underway! The Conference is organised by PhD students for PhD students and this year is no exception with 15 students on the organising committee, representing institutions from across Scotland. It is a brilliant opportunity for students to network with industry, through sponsorship by companies such as Google, JP Morgan and Think Analytics, all of whom sponsored our event last year. Students also have the chance to discuss their own individual research during poster sessions with students in related disciplines. This collaborative environment is something that delegates love about the conference, providing opportunities for you to seek out different perspectives on your own research. Delegates also have the chance to hone skills such as presenting, reviewing and collaborative skills. With all of these benefits, I am hoping that next year we can encourage even more students to submit posters and attend the conference. Tickets are snapped up quickly, so watch out for communications in the New Year announcing that they are available!
The 2017 PhD Conference will be held in sunny Dundee, the city of Jute, Jam and Journalism. The event will be held over two days (27-28 June 2017) and I am delighted to announce that this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Chris van der Kuyl. Chris is a graduate of the University of Dundee, one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs and chairman of 4J Studios, leading the creation of Minecraft for Microsoft Xbox 360. Those who have seen Chris speak before will know that this is not to be missed. His insightful reflections on the state of Computing Science in Scotland and across the world are inspiring and thought-provoking. Further announcement on keynotes and workshops are still to come, but the committee is working on some very interesting options at the moment in order to make this a conference to remember.
On a personal note, I have long supported the event and have encouraged PhD students from across Scotland to attend. I was co-chair of the student organising committee in 2010 and have attended whenever I can ever since. My involvement in this event was my first exposure into the complex world of event planning for academic conferences, and it was a great experience, albeit exhausting and stressful. Now, seven years on, I am involved once again as the Conference Academic Chair and am eager to find out once again what is happening in PhD research across Scotland, and to see how these can link with my own research interests.
The conference itself has changed over the years since it’s inaugural event in 2009. It now has an improved format over two days in order to better facilitate travel. The organisation seems to get slicker every year and all organisational decisions are based on delegate feedback from the previous years, so everyone has a say in shaping the conference. One big change I’ve noticed since 2009 is the the inclusion of academic reviews for poster submissions, which ensures that students receive worthwhile written feedback on their submissions.
I am excited to see what the next few months hold in store for myself and the rest of the organising committee. Keep an eye on the SICSA Twitter feed and regular SICSA emails to keep up to date with our progress and be ready to book your ticket in the New Year.