The Nottingham Summer Engineering Research Programme (N-SERP) provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to sample the life of a researcher.
Students work in a supportive learning environment, under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Over the summer they work on a current research project with access to a wide-range of labs and technical facilities normally only used by postgraduate researchers.
Chyi Chung talks about her experiences of N-SERP
I found working in a cross-disciplinary environment, and talking to others about their research valuable, as well as knowing that the work you are doing at a small scale has the potential to make an impact.
My research is based on a novel microwave microfluidic sensor, as part of a double split-ring resonator. It forms the basis to potential biomedical (e.g. non-invasive blood glucose meters) and chemical (e.g. online analysers for microreactors) applications.
I modelled dielectric measurements from the sensor, as means of identifying different liquids and concentrations of three liquid system, including glucose solutions and methanol-water mixtures.
My project was under Microwave Processing, a field I was previously unfamiliar with. It took a few attempts to familiarise myself to the lab equipment.
The initial weeks were challenging, but it became easier the more I read up on it and with the guidance of my supervisors.
It was different to what I have done so far in my undergraduate degree, as I had to plan and organise work for myself rather than being directly told what to do. I think this independence is valuable, especially for progressing into my Masters next year.
I am planning on applying for a PhD upon completion of my Masters.
N-SERP has taught me to be resilient and to learn troubleshooting skills. I have learned to not be afraid to ask for help, as researchers and postgrad students are keen to share their knowledge.
My advice to future students on the programme is to be open to learning beyond your degree, ask questions when in doubt, and always have pen and paper on you to jot down stuff so you remember to look them up later.
Chyi Chung, University of Birmingham, Chemical Engineering
Above: Summer 2017 N-SERP student Guy Lawrence talks about his experiences of N-SERP
Above: Summer 2017 N-SERP student Melanie Jegu talks about her experience of N-SERP
Projects last between 8 and 10 weeks, and begin at the end of June. Students are given a clearly defined, achievable research objective which will give scope for thought and initiative.
The programme is accompanied by a number of workshops, such as research skills, poster presentation training, and information on what it is like to do a PhD. Students will also be given membership of the Engineering and Science Graduate Centre and are encouraged to set up their own social group.
All N-SERP students are required to produce a poster explaining their project and the research input. These posters will be entered into the N-SERP poster competition and will be put on display at the N-SERP celebration event in early October.
All students receive a bursary while on the programme in the region of £200 a week. Bursaries are not subject to tax or national insurance deductions providing the weekly payment does not exceed £300.
Who can apply to the programme?
Who can apply to the programme?
- 3rd year MEng students are given preference. However there are a small number of projects available for MEng and BEng students in their 2nd year
- Students with a pass mark of 65% or more, but preference will be given to those with the highest marks
- Applications are welcome from exceptional MEng 3rd year students from other UK universities
- Students who have previously participated in N-SERP may apply again, but excellent references from their previous project supervisors are required
- Students outside Engineering - in Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Computer Science and other related subjects - will be considered
Queries should be sent to: N-SERP@nottingham.ac.uk
How to apply
We launch our recruitment cycle in October each year, for projects running in the following summer period. The application process is broken down into the following stages:
- Students apply using the N-SERP application form by 31st January
- Eligible students are shortlisted and are asked to select projects they are interested in
- Project supervisors select a student (note: some supervisors may interview)
Please email your application to N-SERP@nottingham.ac.uk.
Nottingham Advantage Award (internal candidates only)
The N-SERP scheme is also an accredited module of the Nottingham Advantage Award. To pass this module you will need to attend all of the accompanying workshops and submit a poster.
Visit Workspace for more information about the Nottingham Advantage Award.
In the video below, David Hann introduces N-SERP, explains eligibility, details of the scheme, how projects work, and what you could gain by being part of the programme.