2015 Bragg medal and prize

Professor Paula Chadwick, University of Durham. For developing the successful concept of Group Industrial Projects: a UK-wide scheme to engage physics undergraduates with industry.

Paula Chadwick

Group Industry Projects have been a huge success UK-wide, promoted by the Institute of Physics and run by many leading physics departments. A group of undergraduate students work on a physics-based project set by an industrial partner, with the aim that the results are of genuine use to the company. In doing so, students begin to understand the requirements of working in a team on a real industrial project, which is very important for career progression. The experience also helps many of them with future job interviews. Indeed, the very successful projects can lead directly to job offers.

Group Industry Projects were originally developed (with the name Team Projects) at the University of Durham by Prof. Paula Chadwick more than 20 years ago. She runs the projects today, and over the years has worked with a wide variety of companies, ranging from General Electric to Richmond Ice Cream. Students have solved all sorts of problems, from speeding up the freezing of ice cream to simulating a washing machine.

After starting Team Projects at Durham, Chadwick then became leader of the HEFCE-funded STEM project, run by the IOP, to trial the concept at other universities. After the trial all the universities gave extremely positive responses and have taken up the concept so that they are now run at a significant proportion of the physics departments in the UK. Chadwick’s innovation of Group Industrial Projects has hugely benefited a large number of students in many universities, helped industry with a range of practical problems, and also helped UK physics departments diversify their teaching methodologies.