Setting CEB a communication challenge

by Jennie Flint

Could you describe your research in fewer than 200 words and just one picture? For anyone deeply immersed in academia, this may sound like a daunting challenge. But it’s a critical one and that’s why we posed it to scientists at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB).

Earlier this month my colleague Gillian Davis and I set off to CEB to help the researchers enhance their communication skills. The ability to explain research in a clear, accessible way to non-specialists is a vital skill. At Cambridge Enterprise we often work with non-scientists in the course of commercialising research, so we know just how important this ability can be.

To give CEB researchers a chance to flex their explanatory muscles, we decided to set them a challenge. Whoever could explain his or her research to us in the clearest way using just 150 words and a single picture would win a large, chocolate egg.

We were blown away by everyone’s enthusiasm! Everyone was fantastic at explaining the problem they were trying to solve. After much deliberation, we awarded Walter Kähm the prize. We thought he managed to explain how his research into chemical plant control systems was aiming to solve the problem and achieve the desired outcome in a very illuminating way.

All in all, it was an enjoyable morning, and we are looking forward to spending more time getting to know the department. With its new, purpose-built building only about 300 meters from our own offices, that should not be difficult.

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