Apply for the 2019 Placement Scheme
We are now accepting proposals for the placement of a PhD student data scientist for 3 months in your organisation.
Please complete the attached form with details of your placement opportunity and
return it to email@example.com no later than Monday 04 February 2019.
Our students are exceptional data scientists who we expect to be the data science leaders of the future. They are undertaking data-intensive PhD research projects in Particle Physics or Astrophysics and have been trained in data science through the DISCnet programme. Around 20 students are looking to undertake a 3-month placement this summer.
They are exceptional problem solvers, adept at applying a varied toolkit of data-science skills to challenging problems. Their skills include programming, big-data handling, data analytics, statistics, high performance computing and machine learning.
This placement will provide your organisation with an opportunity to solve some specific challenge, benefit from some fresh insights or explore new avenues in data analysis, machine learning or artificial intelligence. Our student will benefit from the experience of applying their skills to real-world problems and from working outside a university environment.
Our placement scheme also provides a channel to engage with world-leading researchers at the universities of Sussex, Southampton, Portsmouth, Queen Mary University of London and the Open University.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the placement cost?
We suggest a minimum gross salary of £1500 for 4 weeks (37 hours a week), with higher salaries for placements in central London (which is consistent with the regular STFC student bursary). As it is a competitive process, you may wish to pay a higher salary. We would also expect that students will be paid reasonable travel and relocation expenses so that they are not out of pocket.
We are able to support a small number of DISCnet-funded placements for e.g. public sector and non-profit organisations (please contact us to discuss).
When can the placement take place?
Students should take two three-month placements over the course of their study; ideally one at the end of their first year and one at the end of their third year so from June-July until August-September. However, we are flexible, and students could start earlier in the academic year and/or do the full six months at once, with agreement from the student, Placements and Partnerships Committee (PPC), and supervisory team. The student could also do placements at the end of their second year. Placements are a key part of our training programme and the minimum length must be three months.
Who employs the student?
We prefer the company to directly employ the student during the placement. In this way, the student will be covered by your employment benefits and covered by your employment procedures.
We expect the student to be based within your company and expect that you will assist them with local accommodation and travel expenses (as they may have an existing rental contract at their host university). During the placement we would expect you to treat the student in the same way as any other employee on a fixed term contract, in particular for reviews and probationary periods. The company is expected to give the student the same induction as other employees. The induction should cover health and safety issues.
Who owns the intellectual property?
Each placement will be covered by agreements on intellectual property (IP) rights and non- disclosure agreements. These will be agreed between your company, the student and the student’s host university.
What kind of project is suitable?
All placement projects must be data-intensive. The theme of the project should not be directly part of the thesis research of the student, but can exploit their existing training, expertise and skills. The project should not be solely software development or data analysis, but include a mixture of research and development on a dataintensive tasks and/or problems facing your company. All placements will need approval by the DISCnet Placement and Partnership Committee (PPC) prior to commencing.
What supervision is expected by the placement organisation?
All placements need at least one named company supervisor. This person will provide daily management of the project and student employee during their time at your company. We also expect the student to stay in touch with their academic supervisors during the placement and there should be regular meetings (fortnightly) of the whole supervisory team during the placement (either in person and/or via video-conferencing). These regular meeting will foster collaboration amongst the supervisory team, leading to a sustained deeper experience for the student, company and academic institution. These meetings will also form the basis for our assessment of the placement.
What skill‐set and experience can I expect DISCnet students to have beforehand?
All our PhD students will hold a high-class degree in physics from a top university in the UK (or beyond) prior to starting their DISCnet studies (at least a 2.1 degree at undergraduate or masters-level education). These students will already bring a range of problem-solving skills and have a level of maturity beyond the normal graduate. During the first year of DISCnet (before starting the first placement), these students will take a range of intensive, specialised training courses in data science, highperformance computing, advanced statistics and machine learning. This education will make our students some of the best-trained data scientists in the world.
In addition to this formal training, the students would have begun their physics research with their academic supervisors, and already gained significant hands-on experience with data intensive tasks in astrophysics and particle physics. They will have extensive empirical experience in the management of large, complex data sets and problems.
The students will detail their education and skills as part of the application process.
How will I be involved in selecting students for placements?
The placement will be advertise on our internal DISCnet website . Students will apply directly to the company with materials requested by the company (e.g. CV and covering letter).
Employers will then perform a selection including arranging interviews if they wish (at their expense). We are happy to be involved in that selection if the company would like our advice (on the likely experience and skill-set of such DISCnet students). The company would then inform all candidates of the placement.
Can we change the project once started?
We understand that your business may need to change over the time of DISCnet. Therefore, we wish to be flexible in how your industrial project and placement may evolve. Any changes to the project should first be approved by the whole supervisory team (including the student), and then the PPC.
What if the placement isn’t working well?
That would be a pity, and we expect uncommon but we appreciate this may happen. We will prepare the students for placements with a preplacement briefing and an information pack to ensure that the students are aware of a company’s expectations. If people are unhappy (student and/or supervisors), we ask them to first contact the DISCnet Placement Manager and/or the chair of the PPC to understand the issues and see if suitable changes can be made. If not, then we will try to find a suitable replacement, while still accrediting the work already achieved (see below).
We stress that as an employee of your company we expect the student to be covered by your HR procedures for reporting, and investigating, any inappropriate behaviour. The PPC will review such procedures as part of placement approval process.
How will the placements be assessed?
During the placement, we need to periodically assess the project as part of awarding a successful DISCnet PhD. We envisage this assessment will be performed by the academic supervisors and therefore, it is important to hold regular (fortnightly) meetings of the whole supervisory team. At the end of each placement period, the student will give a seminar on their placement project which will be assessed by independent peers. We will provide further details of this assessment before the placement begins.
The company supervisor is not required to carry out this assessment but they are encouraged to attend the student’s seminar. The assessment will respect the terms of any confidentiality agreement and we would seek prior approval from the company before publicising any work performed by the student while at the company.
A member of the PPC may visit the company (if based in UK) to discuss the pastoral care and working environment of the student while at the company.
Once accepted a formal agreement between the company, the student and the host university will be drawn up that covers insurance intellectual property and similar matters. This may including a risk assessment by the host university. Once approved by the PPC, the placement can begin and will be administered by the Placement Manager on the DISCnet side
If you wish to propose a placement, please contact Ceris French (firstname.lastname@example.org) to start discussing your project. We will provide a short placement information form, which will capture the key information (team names, project title and abstract, length of placement, funding, etc.). After an initial “light-touch” check, we will publicise to DISCnet students at the end of February / start of March with an application deadline of 31 March. The company will then review applications (interviewing students as they wish) and make a decision to be communicated to students no later than 26 April.
The company will be responsible for informing all applications of the outcome of the selection process (including those who are unsuccessful).