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The role of the secondments is to provide the ESR with a broader experience of working in a different research environment, both in the context of their research project and, separately, in a research environment in the private sector. This should benefit the ESRs future employability within academia, and also enable the ESRs to make more informed choices about possible employment in the private sector.

Each ESR will undergo at least one secondment with another partner in the network and a secondment in the private sector.

The secondments to the private sector partners Maplesoft, Wolfram Research and Shell will enhance our transferable-skills training. Our Young Researchers will spend two months working in one of these companies as part of a programmer team and will acquire detailed skills of programming, learn and professionally apply modern programming languages, and, since the group’s product has to be error free, learn efficient debugging techniques. Their work will be supervised by professional programmers having a detailed background as theoretical physicists and/or mathematicians.

The ESR’s will undertake the private sector secondment early enough in their recruitment so that the skills and experience they pick up during their placement are able to flow back into our community. The precise nature of the research performed during the secondment will be negotiated with the partner on a project-by-project basis. The number of ESRs that can be hosted at each private sector at any one time is limited and the available projects will be announced to the ESRs in several calls. The ESRs will be able to discuss the projects with representatives of the private sector partner at the annual network meetings and be allocated by matching the ESR to projects via interview.

Typical projects could be, for example, the implementation of machine precision evaluation of a set of special functions (e.g., harmonic polylogarithms) in Mathematica or Maple, implementation of new function relations and efficient identification of basis sets, or adaptation of codes for the utilisation of GPUs for efficient data analysis.

After the secondment, the skills the student has acquired will be assessed via an “exit” interview with the Chair of the Training Board.