There will be three main workshops associated with the unit, for which attendance is mandatory:
Workshop 1 (Week 1, am): Orientation
This introductory morning workshop will review the unit goals, give students the chance to introduce themselves and their project (If known), and review some basic content on best work practices, health and safety, ethics, professional development, and reflective practice. These are essential tools for making the most of your practical experience during the unit.
Workshop 2 (Week 1, pm): Themes, Knowledge and Skills
This afternoon workshop follows on from workshop 1, and will be aimed at reflecting on the skills and knowledge you have gained across your degree, and how this might map to potential employers, and what they are looking for. We will look at how to recognise our strengths and make best use of them; as well as identifying ares where we can improve, and make plans on how to develop those areas during the unit. Finally, we will make a first draft of a personal curriculum vitae (CV, resume).
Workshop 3 (Week 11, am+pm): Presentation skills
This workshop will focus on two key opportunities where we present ourselves to our colleagues in a professional context: giving a formal presentation; and giving a job interview. The workshop will look at techniques for delivering an informative and professional presentation, and will go through the process involved in a typical professional job interview. We will use a combination of delivered content and group exercises, including mock interviews, with a focus on developing confidence and experience in presenting in different situations.
The main component of this unit is a project conducted with an external partner organisation, such as the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) or the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science division (CASS). Projects range from pure research to projects with a more educational or outreach flavour. All projects, however, should give you exposure to a professional working environment, and the opportunity to contribute to a larger effort related to professional astronomy and science. You will spend nominally 10 days working with the partner organisation, spread over 10 weeks of the semester (but this can vary from project to project). Projects should start in Week 2, concluding in Week 11, but again there will be some variations in schedule according to the particular project.
The project has a supervisor at the host organisation, who is able to devote some time to supervising the students on the days that they attend the host organisation. At the start of the project, agree on a time or day when you are most likely to have overlap with your supervisor. If you don't have regular access to your project supervisor, let the unit convenor know as soon as possible so that alternative arrangements can be made.
The Physics and Astronomy Department at Macquarie University also appoints a University staff supervisor/mentor to maintain liaison, monitor progress and assist in advising students. Students will meet with the Unit convenor / University Supervisor at least twice during the semester to review lab-books, work diaries and progress against project objectives. One of these meetings will take place at the host organisation.
Required Unit Materials
You will be working within the premises of the partner organisation. Compliance with standard Work Health and Safety (WHS, sometimes also called Occupational Health & Safety, or OH&S) practise is expected. This includes wearing appropriate clothing and footwear (e.g. covered shoes), and following all workplace rules as defined by the Partner. If you are unsure of these rules, ask your supervisors.
Not applicable, but project supervisors may recommend relevant readings.
Each student must maintain an individual lab book or work diary. The lab book needs to be completed for each day of work on the project. Entries in the lab book must be viewed and approved as correct records by the Partner supervisor on a regular basis (at least fortnightly). Students will be required to hand in their lab books to the Partner supervisor as part of the assessment process. The work diary is a record of the additional reading and reflective research undertaken by each student on areas relevant to working in an industry environment. Students will be required to hand in their diaries to the University supervisor as part of the assessment process.
During the mid-semester break, we will have a 4-day (3 nights) field trip to professional research telescopes in New South Wales, including the famous Parkes radio dish and Anglo-Australian Telescope. We will receive 'behind the scenes' tours of these large national facilities, meet with professional astronomers, and look at what it takes to build, maintain and operate research infrastructure on this large scale. We will also take advantage of being far from the city lights to do some astrophotography of our own, weather permitting.
We will hold a field trip information session in Week 6. Accommodation costs are covered by the Department, but you will be asked by the unit convenor to complete a PACE travel grant application before the trip.
Students spend around 10 days within the host organisation, plus the 4-day field trip. This time should be used effectively in the pursuit of the objectives identified by the partner supervisor and unit learning outcomes. A clear understanding of the project objectives and appropriate planning will facilitate progress towards the project objectives. Students are expected to regularly graph and analyse their results (if appropriate), and keep comprehensive and up-to-date records in their lab-books. The Partner and University supervisor/mentor will review the research plan and lab-books to ensure good practise in this respect. Students are also expected to maintain a work diary that captures other project related reading and reflective analysis undertaken by the student.