Posts tagged: Summer School

5th international research summer school is a success

 

5th international research summer school is a success

Some of the student participants and tutors at OPTIMAX 2017

 

This year OPTIMAX, a 3 week residential summer school, was hosted by Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway, during July and August 2017. This was the 5th rendition of OPTIMAX and to date 189 students and 65 tutors from 12 countries have participated in it.

The purpose of OPTIMAX is to give radiography students a chance to participate in multinational team-based research. This is consistent with providing a near to real life experience, because quality research is often conducted in multinational teams. Each OPTIMAX team comprises students and tutors and they work together on an equal basis; tutor-student contact is extremely high and tutors spend around 40 hours per week working within their research team. This has significant benefit to the student learning experience as they receive constant feedback and support throughout the entire research process. OPTIMAX commences with the development of effective [research] teams; it then progresses rapidly to doing research about medical imaging. The latter includes formulating and testing methods, gathering and analysing data and finally producing outputs (draft journal paper, physical conference poster and also a PowerPoint presentation which is delivered on the final day in a formal conference). Beyond the conference a book is published in which the research articles become chapters; the abstracts are always submitted to the European Congress of Radiology (Vienna, Austria) and normally they are accepted for presentation. All student participants become authors, which is an important first step in establishing a professional CV. So far 3 books and 14 journal papers have been published and also 29 conference presentations have been delivered (see Appendix I). Another book and 4 conference presentations are planned to arise from this year’s summer school.

Participant countries this year included Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland and the UK (University of Salford). As always students gained immense benefit from the experience, not simply in terms of the research skills and knowledge they acquired but also through learning about other cultures. There is always a high emphasis on learning about the host country and this is achieved through formal and informal activities. Examples of formal activities include cultural trips on Saturdays; informal activities include student-led social events organised in the evenings. Each research team is multicultural which can comprise 7 or 8 nationalities and we have found that simply working in such a team allows for the development of intercultural awareness and understanding.

OPTIMAX is an intense target-driven experience. Each week day runs from 9-5 and often the students and tutors need to do additional work in the evenings and at the weekends. Production of the 3 outputs is essential as failure to do so would result in a fail; all students are awarded European Credit Transfer Scheme credits and a certificate but these can only be achieved if the 3 outputs are completed and reach the pass standard. Not surprisingly OPTIMAX is a tiring experience, but the approach is fully consistent with how researchers work to achieve their goals within strict deadlines. Nevertheless it is a very rewarding experience.

The funding model was originally based on a successful Erasmus grant. This paid for travel, accommodation and subsistence for tutors and students for the first two years. From then on it became self-sustaining with no need for external grant funding because good value for money was sought in various ways. For instance, the host organisation does not charge for the use of its teaching / research facilities. Accommodation costs are driven down through the use of student accommodation which has self-catering facilities. Student and tutor participants give approximately £100 each to pay for lunch on all working days, a welcome and farewell party and the Saturday socio-cultural events, this approach allows for better buying power / value for money.

OPTIMAX 2018 will be held in University College Dublin and planning will commence in September 2017 with monthly Skype meetings by members of the multinational steering committee.

 


New free access ebook about image quality optimisation for medical imaging

OPTIMAX LogoThe OPTIMAX 2016 medical imaging research summer school was held at the University of Salford. This is the fourth rendition of the summer school, with others having been organized at the University of Salford (2013), ESTeSL, Lisbon (2014) and Hanze UAS, Groningen (2015). Each year we distribute the research outcomes either as journal papers or an open access ebook. The 2016 OPTIMAX ebook, edited by Hogg, P1, Thompson-Hogg2, R and Buissink3, was published online last week:

2016 – http://usir.salford.ac.uk/41428/1/OPTIMAX%202016%20final%20version.pdf

Previous editions of the ebooks are available as follows:

2015 – http://usir.salford.ac.uk/38008/1/Ebook%20Hanze%202015.pdf

2014 – http://usir.salford.ac.uk/34439/1/Final%20complete%20version.pdf

72 people participated in OPTIMAX 2016 from eleven countries and they comprised PhD, MSc and BSc students as well as tutors from seven European partner universities. Professional mix was drawn from engineering, medical physics / physics and radiography. OPTIMAX 2016 was partly funded by the partner universities and partly by the participants. Two students from South Africa and two from Brazil were invited by Hanze UAS (Groningen) and ESTeSL (Lisbon). One student A level from the United Kingdom was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

The summer school included lectures and group projects in which experimental research was conducted in five teams. Each team project focus varied and included: optimization of full spine curvature radiography in paediatrics; ultrasound assessment of muscle thickness and muscle cross-sectional area: a reliability study; the Influence of Source-to-Image Distance on Effective Dose and Image Quality for Mobile Chest X-rays; Impact of the anode heel effect on image quality and effective dose for AP Pelvis: A pilot study; and the impact of pitch values on Image Quality and radiation dose in an abdominal adult phantom using CT.

1. University of Salford, UK; 2. University College London, UK; 3. Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands

 


OPTIMAX Summer School

By Rob Thompson, University College London

Now in its fourth year of running is the well-regarded three-week summer school, OPTIMAX. It comprises of team-based research to investigate real world research questions within medical imaging, giving students from all over the world the chance to try their hand at research with hands-on expert support throughout. The students and tutors come with completely varying professional backgrounds, including Computer Science, Physics, Medicine, Radiography, Occupational Therapy and Engineering.

This year we have 59 participants, coming from Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, The UK, The Netherlands, Vietnam and Sweden. This year, OPTIMAX is being held in the University of Salford, but it has also been in Lisbon and Groningen. Below are the thoughts of some of this year’s participants on their time at the summer school.

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