TechExchange 2021

The first virtual conference for technicians at Leeds was held in September.

Following on from the success of TechExchange in 2019, technicians at Leeds were hoping to be able to hold another in person networking event for all technical staff. As the likelihood of a face-to-face event began to fade the Technician Commitment Working group decided to make preparations for a virtual conference.

The Technician Champions were tasked with pulling together a programme that would have elements of interest for all technicians based in faculties at Leeds. With areas of work ranging from performance arts, through medicine to engineering it was important to devise an inclusive programme.

The day kicked off with a welcome from the chair of the Technician Commitment Steering Group, Professor Elaine Martin, who outlined the Technician Commitment and highlighted a few of the achievements of the technical community. This included Tayah Hopes (FBS) winning the Hidden Role award at the Hidden Ref – a national competition that recognises every role that makes research possible. She also mentioned Helena Brown (FoE) gaining a placement to work on the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2020, and the Food Science and Nutrition Technical Team (teaching) for their Faculty Partnership Award.

This was followed by an interactive session with our Vice Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, with the opportunity for many of us to ask questions. These covered topics from representation within the University and training opportunities, to career pathways and access to promotion opportunities.

The technicians then took to the virtual floor with a representative from each faculty describing some of the work they had being carrying out during the pandemic. Thanks to Matt Harrup (AHC), Angela Beddows (EPS), Amelia Lesiuk (FBS), Lubna Shafi (FMH) and Miles Ratcliffe (FoE) for taking on the challenge of trying to fit 18 months work into 5 minutes. Moving teaching online, opening up research spaces, carrying out research into covid and keeping everything going – between us we did it all.

We were delighted to have Professor Cath Noakes present about current research into Covid-19 transmission. This was an interesting and timely presentation which sparked plenty of discussion.

Time to pause and stabilise – phew! We needed a change of pace, and this was provided by Marcus Hill from OD+PL who ran a session involving centring and practical movement including Qigong. This was followed by Thom Cooper from the Sustainability Service updating us on how we can be involved in the many projects that are ongoing. 

The event ended with a quick update on our progress with the Technician Commitment, by myself and Elaine in our roles as chairs of the Technician Commitment Working and Steering groups respectively.

For anyone wishing to have a discussion four networking rooms were available covering:
•    Sustainability
•    Training for technicians
•    Professional Registration and HEA Fellowships
•    General networking

Thanks to everyone involved in planning and implementing the day. A big thank you to all of the speakers, especially those who stepped outside of their comfort zone.

A shopping bag showing "I heart Technicians" on it.

A shopping bag showing "I heart Technicians" on it.

By Jennie Hibbard

Technician Champion for FBS and Chair of the Technician Commitment Working Group

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