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Take part in the IOP’s undergraduate challenge and win a networking day with industry leaders

We’re challenging first year physics students from universities in the north of England to design and build an analogue voltmeter that measures the voltage, or potential difference, between two points in an electrical circuit. 

It’s an amazing opportunity for students to develop and showcase workplace and employment skills as well as practical physics skills and knowledge of theoretical physics. 

Teams will showcase their designs in the final at the University of Salford on 13 March. Students will compete for a chance to win a networking day with our industry partners, radiation detection solutions developer, Kromek, and science and technology laboratory and office space provider, NETPark. Winners and runners up win an expenses-paid personal tour of physics-based companies and graduate employers based at NETPark.

About the challenge

The challenge started in the North West and is in its fifth year. This year sees its reach extend to all 14 universities with physics departments in the North West, North East and Yorkshire invited to field a team. 

The challenge is to design, build and demonstrate an analogue voltmeter, which must incorporate an elastic band as a key component, to measure voltages between 0 and 5 volts. Teams present their design to judges from the Institute and our industry partner, Kromek.

Judge, Dr Adam Tuff, Kromek’s senior nuclear physicist for gamma-ray and neutron detector products, said: “The Undergraduate Challenge is not only a great way for students to flex their creativity with a physics task, but a way to practice transferable skills – communication, teamwork, and self-motivation to name a few. These skills are vital to creating well-rounded scientists and are much sought after in today’s job market. The competition also gives them a chance to interact with scientists at companies here on NETPark such as Kromek, to get a taste of the scientific research landscape here in the North East. They can discover opportunities for post-university employment they might never have before considered.”

Institute regional coordinator for Yorkshire and the North East, Paul Branch and regional manager for the North West, Katherine Platt, are organising the challenge. Paul said: “The IOP Undergraduate Challenge started in the North West five years ago and this year we’re excited to see it undergo a massive expansion across all universities in northern England offering a physics course. The challenge helps students build teamwork, communication and problem solving skills which are highly valued by employers but that aren’t necessarily a strong focus in a physics course. And, with the support of our industrial partners Kromek and NETPark, it also gives them an opportunity to learn about physics-based employment opportunities outside of the academic environment.”

How to enter

  • The challenge is open to students in their first year of undergraduate physics courses at universities in the north of England. 
  • Each university can enter up to one team of three to five students.
  • Entry closes at midnight on Wednesday 20 February 2019.
  • Email or for more information.