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Queen’s receives £4 million to train next generation of experts in data storage

Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow have been awarded a £4 million grant to train the next generation of engineers and scientists in data storage.

The funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is part of a wider £9.3 million investment.

Data storage and photonics sectors underpin our information society but at present there aren’t enough doctoral level graduates to meet the demands of the industry. The EPSRC grant will ensure that experts are trained over the next eight years.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage (PIADS) is a partnership between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow. It aims to tackle the challenges presented by the increasing quantities of data generated by today's society.

Professor Robert Bowman, Head of School at the School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, and CDT Director, said: “This is an enormous achievement by the whole team involved in our CDT since 2014. We have fantastic cohorts of doctoral researchers engaged in world leading advanced materials and photonics research aligned to the real needs of our industry partners.”

The Centre was founded in 2014 with significant investment from the EPSRC, Queen’s, the University of Glasgow and a range of industrial partners. The latest funding announcement will enable the renewal of the Centre.

CDT is currently training fifty scientists and engineers. Over the next eight years another fifty will be trained with the support of a dozen industry partners across the UK.

The Centre offers students a cutting-edge research environment to undertake a diverse array of topical doctoral research projects which cut across physics, materials and electrical and optical engineering. The collaboration with industry allows the students to develop specialist technical skills as well as innovation and business skills. 

EPSRC announced today that £446 million has been invested at 75 Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the UK- PIADS is one of these Centres.

For the first time, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is partnering with the EPSRC in the CDT Scheme and this Centre will now link and integrate with the SFI Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) based at the Tyndall National Institute, Cork. It will train a further 25 doctoral researchers supported by separate funding from SFI, with training taking place in both the UK and Ireland. These joint activities will establish and strengthen collaborations at student, supervisor and institutional levels.

Significant investment for the Centre will also come from industrial project partners. 

Professor Bowman added: “The latest investment and particularly the links to our Science Foundation Ireland partner offers an even more stimulating and engaged doctoral environment to equip our students with the skills to make meaningful contribution in industry in the years ahead, which are increasingly defined by the integration of photonics for societal benefit.”

Professor John Marsh, CDT Deputy Director at the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, said: “I am delighted by today’s announcement. The aim of CDTs is to equip inspirational engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle current and future challenges and build prosperous nations. Our own CDT partnership with industry provides a supportive and exciting environment for our researchers, which is now enhanced with the inclusion of the SFI Irish Photonic Integration Centre.

“The renewal of our Centre is testament to the excellence of our students who, in tacking projects in photonics and data storage, are addressing one of society’s great challenges. Their skills will be vital in leading the research that will underpin our economies in the future.”

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