The Conference Across MRSEC-PREM Schools, CAMPS, was a student-led initiative sponsored by University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) and The Ohio State University (OSU) MRSECs with the aim of taking advantage of the wide MRSEC-PREM network to benefit all participating institutes’ students and faculty. The conference was held at OSU on October 13 and 14, 2022. Given the collaborative spirit that MRSEC instills in us, we found that it is imperative to expand upon this spirit to become cross-institutional and benefit from each other’s knowledge, network, and industry connections.
A team of three graduate students, one from OSU and two from UCSB, organized and emceed the workshop. The students structured the workshop to focus one day on careers in academia and a second day on careers in industry and invited 8 scientists to share their research, soft skills, and work experience with the students. Participants actively and enthusiastically engaged in networking opportunities with their peers and with the speakers as well as presented posters during the workshop. As one participant says, “I enjoyed having more networking time with the industry professionals, university faculty, and other participants. Being an undergraduate it was an amazing opportunity to speak with Master and Ph.D. students from other universities which I do not get to do often if at all.”
The CAMPS workshop welcomed 50 students from 27 institutions, 10 of which were MRSEC sites and 9 were PREM sites. One of the participants nicely summarized the diversity of the workshop, “I am also happy that participants of this conference is a very diverse group. The group of participants is diverse and inclusive in terms of degree (PhDs, graduate students, and undergraduate students), ethnicity, and gender. It is impressive (and not easy) for an event to be organized to such diversity and inclusiveness.” Given the overwhelming success of this National Science Foundation, NSF, funded workshop, there is discussion for strategies to embed this workshop as part of the MRSEC and PREM programs for future students.