Professor Su Taylor has been involved with KTPs from almost the beginning of her career at Queen’s. She began in Queen’s in 1995 as a Research Assistant on an EPSRC grant, studied for a PhD and later became a Research Engineer in the construction division of the Northern Ireland Technology Centre.
‘That was when I first got interested,’ she says. ‘In those days what we had was the forerunner of KTP – the Teaching Company Scheme – but knowledge transfer describes it so much better.’
As a Professor in Structural Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Su has to date chalked up 11 KTPs, supervising projects in companies such as Macrete – with three – Bullivant, EDM, Moore Concrete, Hughes Precast and McFarland. Two more projects are in progress and more will undoubtedly follow.
‘There are great benefits for the graduates who become involved as KTP Associates. KTP opens a door and gives them tremendous opportunities to progress within a company generating management experience and commercial exposure at a very early stage in their career.’
There are also benefits for the Academic Supervisors. ‘For me, enjoyment’s a big part of it. You keep in touch with the latest developments in your field and that feeds into your teaching. And when students have this kind of exposure to a KTP company, they feel more motivated.
‘In addition, there are long-term benefits from KTPs, even when they’re finished. Companies continue to provide support. It’s great when their people come into the University to pass on their knowledge. I have a lot of contacts that I can call on to give guest lectures or provide factory tours or student placements and projects. KTPs also generate research income which becomes progressively more important for academics. I’ve got two PhD students who are a direct result of the KTP with Macrete.
‘As an academic your profile is raised enormously through your association with KTPs.’ By way of example, she explains how at a conference she met Professor Aftab Mufti, the President of ISIS (Innovative Sensors for Intelligent Structures). That led to an invitation for her to make a presentation at a conference at the University of Manitoba.
Her advice to academics who have so far not dipped a toe in the KTP water: ‘It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Give it a go. There will be benefits you never dreamed of.'
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