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    Seven years of the Technician Commitment: how our technicians make the difference

    31 May 2024

    This Friday marks the seventh anniversary of the Technician Commitment – which Harper Adams first signed in 2017.

    The Commitment is a collaborative initiative led by a steering board of sector bodies and now has more than 120 signatory and supporter organisations.


    To mark seven years of the Technician Commitment, its latest sector report, ‘Inception to Impact: Seven Years of the Technician Commitment’ highlights positive changes driven by institutions who have been part of the initiative since 2017.

    The initiative has marked the beginning of a cultural shift within higher education and research institutions across the UK. Read the report here.

    The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines. As a University, signing the Commitment means we will take action in these key areas and regularly assess the impact of that work to ensure its effectiveness.

    Our Technicians’ help has also led to some fascinating activities at Harper Adams – both for University staff and with the wider community – and over the past year, we’ve seen their work celebrated in various ways.


     This winter, we held the inaugural Harper Adams Technician’s Conference – open not only to our Technicians themselves but also to the wider University community, with Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Lee giving a welcoming address and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Sloan closing the morning session.

    Inaugural Technicians' Conference at Harper Adams University celebrates technical excellence


    Laboratory Manager, Dr Victoria Talbot, was the lead organiser of the conference, and said: “The event helped people to meet up with each other – some for the first time – and helped to put names to faces.

    “Part of the programme involved facility managers introducing themselves and their teams so that everyone could see who each other was. I think that was really helpful, especially since the pandemic, and very important in helping to build our technical community.”


    Among sessions at the Conference was one discussing STEM outreach activities with local schools – and in December 2023, one Shropshire school showed our technicians exactly how valued their work was, after pupils nominated them for a series of Work Experience awards.


    The awards followed a summer event on the Harper Adams campus with Burton Borough School in Newport, where pupils got to visit a range of our laboratories and facilities, as well as the Harper Adams Future Farm.

    Following the awards night, two Burton Borough students, Luke and Vinnie, visited the University to present staff with the certificates and trophies to the technicians whose work helped make the difference for them.








    Read more here.

    Meanwhile our Technicians’ work also offered delegates to  the historic British Beekeeper’s Association convention earlier this year the chance to see both bees and pollen in new ways.  


    University staff help beekeeping convention go with a buzz


    Harper Adams experts produce un-bee-lievable results for BBKA Spring Convention


    During the Convention -which marked 150 years of the Association - Teaching Assistants Richard Page and Thomas Leigh worked with delegates to prepare samples of both bees and the pollen they gather.

    These were then placed into the University’s Scanning Electron Microscope – offering the delegates hands-on opportunities to use some advanced equipment to gain unique insights.

    Dr Talbot added: “The SEM workshops are a key feature of the convention and something which few people would typically have the opportunity to participate in. We are very proud to be able to offer this.”

    Read more here.


    Finally, the importance of the work of an Entomology Technician was among the case studies included in a UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) report as an example of good practice in open research.

    Associate Laboratory Manager Nikoletta Foskolou’s work in the Jean Jackson Entomology Laboratory and Nematology Laboratory was one of the key case studies at facilities across the country which UKRN chose to highlight.

     Read more here. 

    Speaking this morning, Victoria added: "I was thrilled to be able to attend the recent signatory event at Techniquest in Cardiff to celebrate and hear about the wonderful progress that so many institutions are making around the four pillars of visibility, recognition, career development, and sustainability of technical roles, skills and careers.

    "So many are viewing their technicians in a new light, harnessing their skills, acknowledging their contributions, and improving their career prospects in new and imaginative ways. I am so pleased that Harper Adams is also a signatory to the Technician Commitment and committed to fulfilling our pledges.

    "We are recognised for being the essential, skilled, professional individuals that we are, for without us, much of our teaching, research and knowledge exchange would just simply not take place. Improving visibility has been extremely important and our inaugural conference has really helped with this.

    "There is work still to be done, but whether it’s knowledge exchangeopen research or teaching our contributions are being acknowledged more and more, demonstrating the truth of the widely used tagline #techniciansmakethedifference. We really and truly do!"

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