My first international conference: part 2

Thursday January 14th – Today is the big day!

My talk is scheduled for 1:54pm in the session: Hard Magnetic Materials and Processing II. I have already practised my talk and, maybe due to nerves, I am clocking in at 15 minutes, far too long for the 10-minute time limit! I spend the morning practising my talk and finally feel confident that I have it down an hour before the 1:30pm session start time. After a quick lunch, it’s go time.

My presentation is the third of fifteen in the session and I like that I can get it over and done with. I set-up my laptop and watch the presentation before mine, given by J. Meakin from the University of Birmingham.

Quicker than I’d like, his talk is over and I’m standing in front of a room of experts, holding a laser pointer and being introduced by the chair of the session. I start to talk and fall into a routine and then, before I realise, I am on the last slide. The timer on my computer clocks in at 10 minutes and I summarise my conclusions before inviting questions. The first question is an easy to answer question on one of my experimental methods and another is on the size of my models for my simulations. After a small discussion with the audience members, it is time for the next speaker to begin the presentation and with that I sit down and allow myself to relax.

After the session I stuck around to see if anyone wanted to talk about my presentation. One criticism of the conference is that because it is so big (around 2000 attendees), to fit every talk into four days, there is no time for breaks mid-sessions. Having breaks for coffee has been common in smaller conferences I’ve been to and are fantastic opportunities to catch someone after their talk or to introduce yourself to someone while you wait for your tea to stew.

For the evening, there was an IEEE young professionals networking event, which I was keen to attend. Grabbing a coke and some hors d’oeuvres, I join a group of people and funnily enough, after travelling across the world, I am chatting to a postdoc and final year PhD student from the University of Leeds. We are soon joined by a couple of Masters students from Oregon State University. We sit down to be given an introduction to the IEEE Young Professionals group, before two follow up presentations on publishing work and career paths. We finish the night going for food and beers, which was a great way to cap off an eventful day!

Friday January 15th 

Having had a late one the night previously, I allowed myself a bit of a lie-in this morning. With my talk yesterday, I felt a massive weight off my shoulders. While I didn’t let myself get too stressed about my talk, there was always a feeling over the first few days of the conference to practise one more time or read up on this-that-or-the-other just in case I get asked…Now it was done, I could completely relax.

I decided to spend the morning gathering my stuff together and packing up in preparation for checking out at noon. I went to the morning poster session and spent some time speaking to J. Wells from the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, as his poster grabbed my attention and was really easy to follow. It was on an area of magnetics that I was a little familiar with (spin torque domain wall motion), but his poster was really interesting and he was happy to talk to me about his research and the significance of his work.

Noon came around and after checking-out of my room and a spot of lunch, I went to an oral presentation session on Nanostructured Hard Materials II. Hard magnetics is my area of research and so the audience was littered with familiar faces from the session my presentation was a part of. A number of talks really stood out in this session and spoke to another student about her work, because she was using similar preparation methods to myself.

Before long the session came to an end and that was the end of the conference. Overall, this conference has been a real highlight of my PhD program. It was really uplifting to be around so many other researchers, exchanging ideas and discussing their research. I’m in the final year of my CDT program, so it remains to be seen what I will be doing after, but I’m glad I can say I attended at least one major, international conference and presented my work to an audience of experts, and survived.

With that said, I have a few days of sight-seeing planned so with that I’ll draw this blog to a close.

Alex
PhD student, Advanced Metallic Systems CDT

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