An electric future: Introducing students to the conference concept
In mid-September, the University of Birmingham hosted Faraday Institution’s annual conference. This successful event offered an excellent opportunity for professionals from academia and industry to engage on the topic of energy storage.
By Lizzie Driscoll, The University of Birmingham
In addition to the main conference events, there was also an opportunity for broader engagement at the close of the conference, when high school and college students from the local area were invited to get involved. An engagement zone called "An Electric Future" came alive with a multitude of exhibitors (many of whom also attended the conference) to talk about their roles with fascinating demonstrations, from exploring pH to introduce the use of bacteria in battery recycling to the design of electric race cars. The exhibitors stands were awash with RSC outreach fund recipients, including Dr Rob McElroy (University of Lincoln) and his comic book series "Green Kid" on sustainable research, and to Dr Chris Hamlett, the outreach lead for Discover Materials, who lead the development of the CoCoElectroBag this year – all on electrochemical energy storage.
The evening also included an energy storage lecture, delivered by myself, touching on internal combustion engines with the classic whoosh bottle demo, solar energy generation, and exploring several aspects of Li-ion batteries, from materials to manufacturing, and finally recycling. The evening was a real chance to highlight this expansive area of this research, with the many different disciplines, institutions and career pathways.
Over 50 students attended the zone and engaged with the exhibitors. From the feedback received, the evening has certainly had a huge impact with students asking to return next year for the event. While organising the event over several months has presented some challenges, seeing the level of engagement from the students has been fantastic. The electric future is coming and it needs all these keen and bright young minds.