Most of our academics find that working on a KTP is a lot of fun. Yes, it can be challenging, but each project broadens your expertise, widens your circle of contacts, provides new and exciting opportunities for your students and generates new funding streams for studentships and postgraduate funding.
Professor Su Taylor from Civil Engineering, within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been named as the UK Academic Ambassador for KTP.
Each KTP project is funded by the company (SME 33%; Large Company 50%) and Government.
As part of the package, the company will get access to an academic’s time, which equates roughly to half a day per week hands-on supervision of the KTP Associate at the company premises. KTP projects can include a variety of activities, such as carrying out lab work, attendance at meetings, mentoring the graduate and jointly supervising student projects.
An academic participating in KTP will get direct access to the academic supervision component of the KTP project budget (approximately £10,000 per yearper project) to compensate for your time input to the project delivery. This can be used to support any university research activity.
One of the key drivers for academic researchers is proving the impact of their research activity, and KTP is one of the best mechanisms to demonstrate this.
Each KTP project is centred on a specific company project that is intended to bring new knowledge and expertise to an organisation. Individual projects are scoped and agreed with the company partner and we encourage the academic (and their Research Cluster) to identify a wide range of opportunities in which to embed new knowledge.
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, Bullivant, EDM, Moore Concrete, Hughes Precast and McFarland.
‘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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