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by Chris Collins

Materials student reps weekend to Abergavenny

Our van against the beautiful sceneryThe main aim of the weekend was to equip the student reps with better skills to enable better communication between the student population and staff.

The course was held in a converted farmhouse and barn on the side of a mountain in central Wales, which even though a real pain to get to, it was well worth the hours spent on the floor of trains!

Enjoying the evening and getting to know the other studentsThe group of students came from a variety of uni’s and courses, including Motorsport engineers from Derby to Natural scientists from Cambridge. As expected the first questions I received once people knew I was from Loughborough were; “what sport do you play?” and “is the night life as good as everyone says?”! Maybe one day Loughborough will be known across the country for its engineering as well as it sports! The staff were mainly from the UK centre for materials, as well as a materials graduate who was working for Corus. The food was excellent and the drink free and plentiful, as some others found to their detriment.

The weekend’s activity’s consisted of group bonding exercises to work on our group skills and communication skills. This involved creating weird and wonderful creations to complete specific tasks, such as firing ping pong balls up a hill into a target area using elastic bands and bamboo canes. As well as this our presentation skills were assessed, as each time we completed a set of activity’s each group was expected to prepare a short presentation and give it to the rest of the group. I found the most interesting activity being a negotiation scenario where two students had to play the part of lecturers and two the roles of students in a discussion over the use of space in the department. This provided a valuable insight into how to approach negotiations, our group came to the most unique outcome and one the staff running the weekend had never seen before, in that the staff (Me and another student) were able to provide the students with a solution that didn’t come from the information pack provided and that we managed to stay civil at all times unlike other groups! The main activity of the weekend was the mock student staff committee meeting where we were able to put into practise the skills we had either learnt or developed in the weekend. This was invaluable to many there as they had either only once experienced a committee situation or had never had a meeting.

Group photoThe weekend wasn’t just about working though, as in a place like Wales we had to enjoy the location. On the last day we all trekked up the mountain to have group photo. We were able to spend the evenings relaxing in front of the log burning stove and mess about playing charades and gaining an insight into life at each other’s uni’s and an insight in to each other’s departments. I came away from these times talking to other students and the staff, reassured of the very high quality of Loughborough Uni as a facility and just how good IPTME is. Every other student had a major issue with facility’s and staff and yet I was able to sit there content to know that I came from a department with none of these issues. This student staff committee can be proud of itself in the fact that it runs regularly and to excellent terms, many of the students were telling me that their committees either never met or were massively staff heavy, hence not enabling the students to voice their opinion. So a big well done to the staff and student in IPTME!



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