My First Conference: A Low Carbon Adventure

The plan was simple, to put out the work I had completed during my MRes summer project into the world.

November 30 2022

The plan was simple, to put out the work I had completed during my MRes summer project into the world. The work was a unique take on a new electric motor design that has been gaining traction in the field recently, whereby the copper windings are switched around to give the system new characteristics. To share our findings, my supervisor Dr Chris Vagg and I decided to take the work to a conference, providing it exposure to industry and giving me a chance to further develop my presentation skills. Before long we agreed on the SIA Powertrain and Energy conference, which coincidentally happened to be in the beautiful city of Rouen, France.

In the spirit of AAPS, I assessed a few possible methods of low carbon transportation to get to and from the conference. After reluctantly scrapping the idea of a 400-mile round-trip cycling adventure due to time constraints, I settled on a combination of the train and running, which meant packing extremely light. The journey from Bath to Rouen primarily consisted of 3 train journeys, stopping in London and Paris on the way. At each stop a short run gave me the chance to experience the cities and melt in the 30-degree heat.

After 3 train journeys and a segmented half marathon, I arrived in Rouen ready to sleep and present my work the next day. To get to the conference centre I had planned a scenic run through the local trails and scouted out showers for my arrival. This largely went without a hitch, apart from my laptop continuously poking me in the back as it hummed away doing simulations. When I got to the conference however, I found that I had grossly underestimated the scale of the conference at which I would be attending.

To my relief, I eventually found the room I would be presenting in, which was notably smaller than the one pictured above. Still, with the room holding between 50 and 100 attendees, the nerves began to set in as my talk approached. Thankfully, as my talk was near the start of the first day, I was up and ready to present before I knew it.

The presentation went well, with several interesting questions from the audience that sparked some discussions following the talk. With the pressure off, I was able to relax and enjoy the presentations for the remainder of the day, and of course clean out the complimentary buffet! In the evening, I also had the chance to run into the main city of Rouen for a sight seeing tour.

On the final day of the trip, I attended the second half of the conference and listened to a great talk relating to my PhD project. After a day of networking and presentations, it was time to begin the journey back to Bath, with tired legs and a head full of new ideas. Overall, it was a great experience to present at a conference, and one I would recommend to anyone with the chance to do so. It helps to build confidence in your own work and gain skills in communication, whilst also enabling you to experience a new place and hear about other great work in your field. Once back in Bath, following a journey on the last train home, I was greeted with a slow climb up the hill to my house. For anyone planning a similar trip in the future, I highly recommend looking at buses!

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