Apply to join the Engineering Early Career Forum

Closing date
16 August 2024
Number of positions
Around 10
Length of term
Two years plus possible extension
Time commitment
Three days per year with occasional contact in between for specific topics or issues
Outcomes communicated date
Early autumn

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is seeking applications from early career researchers to join the Engineering Early Career Forum (ECF) for a two-year term.

We are looking to recruit about 10 new members in this exercise.

Apply by submitting an expression of interest through the Engagement Hub.

A brief institutional statement of support is required.

Who we’re looking for

This opportunity is available to early career researchers from across the engineering remit. To recognise the range of career paths in engineering, there is no specific definition of ‘early career’, however, applicants should demonstrate why they consider it appropriate to describe themselves as such. This forms part of the assessment criteria outlined in the ‘how we’ll assess your application’ section.

We have listed some indicators that an individual might be considered early career. These are not exhaustive or definitive but may help applicants to decide whether this is the right opportunity for them, and to explain why they would consider themselves to be early career.

The panel may also refer to these indicators but will be encouraged to take a broad view when assessing whether an applicant is at a suitable point in their career.

The indicators are that the applicant:

  • is in the process of establishing their research independence and their research team, or these are newly established (established leaders of research groups would not be suitable for this opportunity)
  • has aspirations to leadership within their research community or some experience of community leadership, but may not have a significant track record of community leadership at a national level
  • has a good awareness of the international and strategic context of their research and is starting to show evidence of recognition in the community

We are keen to see diversity in forum membership, in terms of gender, race, disability and other protected characteristics and we welcome applications from candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Find out about EPSRC’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion.

This opportunity is open to full-time and part-time academic staff, fellowship holders and early career professionals from industry.

Individuals interested in applying for this opportunity who are unsure of their eligibility should contact EPSRC by emailing teamengineering@epsrc.ukri.org

Submissions to this opportunity will not affect an applicant’s status under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What you’ll be doing

EPSRC seeks expressions of interest for the refresh of the membership of the Engineering ECF (see ‘the scope and what we’re doing’ section).

EPSRC is looking to appoint around 10 new members of the forum. Applicants should have a strong focus on advancing the UK’s reputation in engineering research. Applicants should be open to developing interdisciplinary research agendas and help with two-way communication between EPSRC and the early career engineering research community.

Members of the ECF will have the opportunity to interact with other early career researchers from across the breadth of engineering and the physical sciences, forming new professional networks that may generate future innovative research programmes and influence research strategy.

Forum members will have the opportunity to connect to EPSRC strategic activities, interact with EPSRC’s advisory streams, and will receive insight into, and practical advice relating to, UK funding body policy and practice.

Members appointed via this process will form the new cohort of the forum. Their membership period is expected to run from autumn 2024 to autumn 2026 (with the possibility of extension for a further two years).

Scope

The Engineering theme at EPSRC aims to identify and enable the research community to tackle fundamental engineering research challenges with the potential for lasting academic, social, and economic benefit to the UK. These challenges are often inherently interdisciplinary, cutting across EPSRC’s portfolio and across UKRI more widely.

It is recognised that the future international reputation of engineering research in the UK rests upon the early career researchers of today, who will go on to generate new and sustainable engineering processes, technologies, and systems at the interfaces of traditional mathematical, scientific and engineering disciplines.

The Engineering theme interacts widely with academia and industry via advisory bodies of strategic large investments, membership of cross-industry, academia and governmental committees, and discussions with professional societies and networks.

Engaging with early career stakeholders from academia and industry is a crucial part of achieving EPSRC’s ambitions, helping to set the direction for engineering research in the near future.

The Engineering ECF aims to identify and support some of the most promising early career researchers who may have the characteristics required to become international leaders of the future.

The Engineering ECF acts as a sounding board for the theme to inform new ideas, provide informal advice on key issues and offer a direct link to the research community, whilst alerting EPSRC to emerging issues and opportunities affecting the early career community.

The ECF is a long-term initiative with an evolving membership base. The activities of the forum are influenced by the wishes and ideas of the membership, who are expected to participate in organising and convening meetings and events.

Members will have access to a range of tailored events and opportunities, which have previously included:

  • networking and idea-sharing with all other ECF members
  • discussions, networking and mentoring opportunities with senior academics and industrialists from the Engineering theme and beyond
  • insight and mentoring into EPSRC processes and procedures, including various EPSRC grant awards and the associated peer review processes
  • developing working relationships with EPSRC
  • joint sessions with the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team, and other advisory structures

ECF members also advocate on behalf of EPSRC on any policies or specific issues that may arise, ensuring they are visible leaders able to articulate strategy and activities to the community and stakeholders where appropriate.

Meetings are run by a chair, who serves as the early career representative on the Engineering Strategic Advisory Team.

Applicants are advised that the ECF usually meets three times annually, with each meeting running over one or two days. EPSRC would expect ECF members to be willing to actively participate and contribute to the forum’s meetings on a regular basis.

Individual membership of the forum will last for approximately two years with possibility of two years extension. ECF members are selected from academia, industry and other stakeholders and are separate from the peer review process.

EPSRC wishes to recruit forum members across the full breadth of the Engineering theme. This includes appropriate representation of our portfolios in the engineering discipline (indicated on Tableau Public) and also individuals who are able to take more general overview of the theme.

For more information about EPSRC’s portfolios and strategies, see our research portfolio and priorities and Engineering theme.
EPSRC explicitly seeks to ensure that at each refresh the forum is constituted with an appropriate balance of membership across scientific research areas whilst securing appropriate distribution across institutions and regions of the UK.

Through the selection process we will try to accommodate, where possible, a diverse and representative membership for the ECF.

Opportunity available

This is not a direct funding opportunity, but rather an expression of interest for membership of the Engineering Early Career Research Forum.

EPSRC will pay some of the forum meeting costs (for example, lunch, refreshments, room hire), however successful applicants would generally be expected to find their own travel and accommodation costs to attend the meetings. Applicants should ensure their host organisation can provide such costs for their attendance.

How to apply

Submitting an application

This is a single stage assessment process, based around an expression of interest (EoI). Any applications that fail to follow these guidelines will not be considered.

Applicants should submit their applications electronically by 16 August 2024 using the EoI form on the Engagement Hub.

Guidance on writing an application

Preparing an EoI

Applicants should complete all sections of the EoI form.

How we’ll assess your application

Applicants must address the criteria outlined in the ‘Assessment criteria’ section. This will be in the format of responses to the following prompts, which map to the assessment criteria:

  • demonstrate how do you identify with the description of ‘early career’
  • clearly outline your rationale for wishing to join the ECF in engineering research, providing evidence that your membership will bring value to both you and the ECR community
  • outline how your research relates to the EPSRC Engineering theme
  • demonstrate your communication and teamwork abilities, as well as your readiness to promote two-way communication between EPSRC and the early career engineering research community

Each section may contain up to 1500 characters.

Preparing a statement of support

All applications must be accompanied by a statement of support on headed paper, written, signed and dated by the applicant’s head of department (or equivalent). This statement of support must explain clearly how the department will support the applicant’s membership of the forum. It must:

  • confirm that the host institution is supportive of the time commitment entered into by the applicant and will ensure that the applicant is provided with travel and subsistence costs as required for meeting attendance
  • confirm that the host institution is prepared to support the applicant to host a meeting of the ECF during the applicant’s term of membership

This letter will not be used as part of the assessment of the applications. However, applications received without a statement of support, or where the statement of support does not meet the two criteria above will be rejected.

Assessment process

Expressions of interest will be assessed against the specification criteria by an EPSRC panel based on the information provided, addressing how well applicants have articulated their fit to the assessment criteria.

We actively encourage applications from researchers based in all regions and nations of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) and those representing a diverse range of institutions. We would not expect the engineering ECF members to be members of any other ECF in EPSRC (‘Mathematical Science theme’ and ‘Manufacturing and the Circular Economy theme’).

There will be no postal peer review of applications for this forum. EPSRC reserves the right to reject proposals that it deems to be outside the scope of the call (including those outside the remit of the Engineering theme, or from ineligible applicants) or wholly beyond the remit of EPSRC, as well as those that do not follow the application guidelines in this document.

The outcomes of the selection process will be announced in early autumn 2024. Successful applicants will receive a formal invitation to the Engineering ECF.

In the event of this call being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on providing demonstrable evidence to address the following selection criteria:

  • fit to the early career specification: evidence that the applicant can reasonably identify with description of a ‘early career’
  • benefit of membership: having a clear rationale for wishing to join the ECF in engineering research. Explanation how membership will provide benefit to applicant and their Early Career Researcher community
  • fit to remit of the Engineering theme: explanation how is your research relevant to the scope of the EPSRC Engineering theme
  • networking and communications: evidence of communication and team-working skills, and your willingness to facilitate two-way communication between EPSRC and the early career engineering research community

Due to the high volume of applications expected for this opportunity EPSRC will not be providing feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Last updated: 4 July 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.