A new THE Awards category – one year on

Back A new THE Awards category – one year on

In 2019, the Technician Commitment partnered with Times Higher Education to celebrate the contributions of technicians in higher education and research through the creation of a new THE Awards category – Outstanding Technician of the Year.

Technical colleagues across the UK are playing an essential role in education, research and knowledge transfer and deserve to be celebrated. The inclusion of this category in the THE Awards shows the sector’s appreciation for technical staff and commitment to recognition, and we’re thrilled to be supporting its continuation into 2020.

When launching a new category, there is always a bit of nervousness as to how many institutions will engage with the awards process and how many nominations will be received. There was no need for us to worry – we were blown away, not only by the number of nominations we received, but also their quality and the diversity of technical roles and disciplines represented. We read amazing stories about technicians from across the sector – those who had gone the extra mile in ensuring a superb student experience, or had made critical contributions that advanced research, or stepped up to act as ambassadors for the technical community, as well as those who had advanced methodologies and technologies – the list went on! This all made shortlisting incredibly difficult and the final decision even more so, but ultimately we were thrilled to give the inaugural THE Award for Outstanding Technician of the Year to the Open University’s Barbara Kunz.

Barbara embodies the very essence of this category – she enables and drives research through the application of her theoretical and practical expertise, her advanced equipment capabilities and experimental methodologies. Together with her work to empower students and colleagues to be aware of and to care for their mental health and her outreach activities to encourage more people into scientific careers, this made her an inspiring example of a truly outstanding technician.

And so now we are on the hunt for the second recipient of this award. The 2020 Outstanding Technician of the Year honour will go to an individual whose exceptional practical skills, commitment and vision have enabled the highest quality teaching, research or knowledge transfer. It is open to technicians working in any discipline in UK universities and research institutes, and entries will be accepted from institutions, technicians themselves, their colleagues or students, but please note that testimonies must form part of the supporting documentation.

Finally, here are a few pointers on what the judging panel will be looking for. Firstly, please bear in mind that nominations for this category do not have to meet every single point in the published criteria. Given the breadth of technical roles across the sector, the criteria are deliberately broad and should be taken as guidance rather than a list of mandatory requirements for all submissions. And please remember that the THE Awards focus primarily on activity during the last completed academic year (so, for these 2020 awards, that’s 2018-19).

We’re also very keen to hear about the impact of the individual’s work, so please make this clear and provide the strongest evidence that you can. Remember that testimonials can be really powerful here, significantly enhancing the submission as a whole, so please choose those carefully.

The THE Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the technical community and to provide well deserved recognition of their vital contributions to the sector.

We look forward to receiving this year’s nominations, and the very best of luck!

Kelly Vere
Higher Education Engagement Manager and Technician Commitment Lead for the Science Council, and THE Awards judge