Published: 14 May 2015

EngD student wins prestigious national lecture competition

Maria Cann has been announced winner of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) 2015 Young Persons’ Lecture Competition.

Having won the competition’s local and regional heats, Maria represented the South East at a national IOM3 event held at the Armourers’ Hall in London on 22 April, competing against top young researchers from all over the country.

The national final required entrants to submit a short abstract and give a 15-minute presentation, followed by questions from the three expert judges. Competitors were judged on the standard and structure of their presentation, handling of questions, use of props and examples, and technical content.

Maria, who is working for manufacturing research company M-Solv during her EngD (Engineering Doctorate), presented her research on developing alternative materials, based on silver nanowires, for use in touch sensors. Touch sensors rely on a transparent conductive material to make them work but the most commonly used material (ITO) is expensive to deposit, brittle and in short supply. Maria’s project has focused on investigating how nanowires can be deposited and laser processed in order to make the next generation of touch sensors.

Maria explained, “One of the benefits we’re finding is that films are flexible, so should allow us to produce flexible devices which are not possible with current materials.”

Having been announced winner of the IOM3 2015 Young Person’s Lecture Competition at UK level, Maria now has her sights set on competing at international level in the IOM3 Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition final, which takes place in Ireland in October.

She said, “I’m very proud to win this award, and a little shocked.  The whole competition has been a great learning experience.”

She added, “The EngD at Surrey has given me the best of both worlds: a focus on commercial applications as well as an in depth academic understanding. I feel I’m in a great position to start a job because I have years of industrial experience behind me and a doctorate to show I know what I’m talking about.”

The EngD in MiNMaT (Micro- and Nanomaterials and Technologies), offered by Surrey’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in MiNMaT, pairs students (known as Research Engineers) with relevant organisations enabling them to spend the majority of their time on the sponsoring organisation’s premises, working on research that is both academically challenging and targeted at its research priorities.

The EngD Centre Manager, Noelle Hartley and Director, Professor Julie Yeomans, were present when Maria’s success was announced.  Professor Yeomans said, “Maria seemed genuinely shocked that she had won, although it was obvious to us that she was clearly the best!  We’re really pleased for Maria and proud of her achievements.  We’re sure she’ll be an excellent ambassador for the UK materials community and doctoral training at Surrey when she competes in Dublin in October.”


Discover our programmes in Mechanical Engineering and read about our Engineering Doctorate in MiNMaT.

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