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Stellar feedback from PhD attendees of STFC, DISCUS and DISCnet sponsored Summer School

In July, over 100 research students from all over the UK spent the hottest week of the summer at Sussex for the 2nd annual Data Intensive, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Summer School. Attendees gave excellent feedback: 87% of respondents on the feedback survey scored 8 out of 10 or higher in response to the question “On a scale of 0-10 how likely are you to recommend attending the Summer School to someone else in your position?”.

Feedback summary from one of the attendees (please note all feedback responses were anonymous):

The Summer School was well organised, the selection of sessions was excellent, and the social activities were fun. The networking event was also useful, and may lead to a placement for me.

Professor Seb OliverDirector of the Summer School, is delighted with how the Summer School was received:

“We made a decision early on that the best way to train the students was through small-group hands-on workshops rather than lectures to big classrooms. This created a huge challenge in organisation for us, but I am delighted to see that it really paid off for the students. The students and trainers were a real inspiration, exceptionally talented and enthusiastic. I was enormously pleased with how the Summer School went. Huge thanks to all those involved in the organisation and running of the school, especially the DISCUS Centre Manager, Louise Winters.This feedback is particularly gratifying given that during the week we had the hottest day in the UK ever  - and the air-conditioning failed! My only regret is that I couldn’t take part in the School as a participant myself."

The Data Intensive Science Centre (DISCUS) at Sussex hosted the national Data Intensive, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Summer School 2019 from 21-26 July. The event attracted over 100 PhD students from across 8 Centres for Doctoral Training in Data Science. This training network extends across more than 20 UK universities and is currently the largest set of centres for doctoral training within one discipline.

As well as over 100 PhD attendees, the Summer School brought together over 40 lecturers and trainers to deliver a programme of 5 workshops per day, giving attendees an opportunity to customise their schedule to support their research interests. Workshop leaders included Sussex staff, academics from across the global STFC network and third-party trainers who specialise in corporate training.

Dr Philip Rooney, CEO of Data Javelin who provided training at the Summer School commented:

"The STFC Summer School was an exciting opportunity to meet with some of tomorrows top data scientists and impart our knowledge. We were encouraged by how quickly the students picked up the material and by the insightful questions they asked."

Industry partnerships are also of vital importance to PhD researchers and DISCUS worked with the Business Engagement, Innovation and Business Partnerships Team to host an industry networking event at The Grand Hotel in Brighton as part of the Summer School. The networking event introduced Summer School attendees and senior academics to 50 leaders from industry and public sector. It provided a platform to explore opportunities for industry and the public sector to collaborate with the next generation of leaders in data science.

The Summer School was funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with additional sponsorship from DISCUS and DISCnet (the Data Intensive Science Centre in SEPnet). It provides students with additional skills to support academic research projects, industry placements and possible career paths into industry. The programme includes a multi-track programme of hands on workshops, plenary sessions including lectures on astronomy, particle physics, machine learning and data science in industry. Evening social and networking events are also scheduled. Last year’s inaugural Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Summer School was run by University College London (UCL).

DISCUS, a research unit built to address real social and economic challenges by applying data interpretation techniques developed by a cross-disciplinary team over a number of years, aims to support the UK’s public and private sector organisations as they seek to make better use of their largest and most complex data sets, delivering better outcomes for the general public, and staying competitive on the international stage.

Find out more about DISCUS and the STFC Data Intensive, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Summer School 2019 at:


By: Justine Charles
Last updated: Wednesday, 6 November 2019