MEMS Fest Memories

Wondering what it’s like to attend MEMS Fest as an undergraduate student? Here’s a guest post from one of our current committee members, Lucy (pictured below), who presented at the 2017 Festival. 

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Photo by Dr Emily Guerry

Presenting your paper at an academic festival may sound incredibly daunting, or it may be something you’ve never even considered before. As undergraduate students we share an image of conferences as formal affairs that are exclusive for lecturers and PhD experts … but my experience during my final year as an undergraduate giving a paper at the two-day MEMS Fest in 2017 broke from this initial idea.

After submitting my 250-word application in March last year proposing to discuss my dissertation topic, I was still unsure at that moment in time what my ultimate thesis was. Yet, I am so glad it didn’t prevent me from applying. Three months later, at the time of the festival, I found my knowledge in the subject had developed considerably and, although I wouldn’t necessarily say I felt ready to present, as soon as I arrived at registration, which involved meeting all those attending, I was reassured. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, you instantly feel part of the MEMS community and all my initial worries vanished.

And I completely get it, for most of us talking about our own research in front of a room of people for 20 minutes isn’t easy. But I cannot stress enough that all the ears listening to you belong to eager faces of your fellow cohort. Everyone was on an equal platform and have a genuine interest in what your research can contribute to the field.

Obviously, those sweaty palms reappear just before you stand up to talk, but, yet again, once you’ve been introduced by the panel chair and you begin, those feelings disappear and you find yourself quickly running out of time to say everything you intended.

One unique aspect of this conference is that there is such a range. Not only does this allow you the freedom of topic for your paper, but it also offers something to suit all interests. Even further, the weekend provides you with the chance to attend short talks on brand new topics you may not have ever heard of before. Additionally, on the final day there is an opportunity to reminisce over a well-deserved glass (or two) outside in the summer sunshine with all those that attended.

Attending MEMS Fest is an experience in itself, yet getting involved by presenting a paper exceeded my expectations. It’s a fantastic chance for you to share your ideas with like-minded people.

The deadline for abstract submission at this year’s MEMS Festival is 23 March, however students affected by the recent UCU strike action are encouraged to contact the organizing committee regarding a short deadline extension. We hope to receive your abstract soon!