Set up in October 2013, the Centre for Advanced Studies provides opportunities for students to develop their intellectual curiosity and engage with the grand challenges of our time.
Following discussion and feedback from students, the Centre decided that the value-added strand to the current Visiting Scholars Program, which offers students the opportunity to connect with speakers either over dinner in Hall or via the popular ‘fireside chat’ series, should include a series of masterclasses. These would provide opportunities for students to work with experts in a bit more depth and so test their knowledge in practical ways in order to achieve a much broader understanding of an idea or discipline than can be offered during their undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
Three masterclasses were offered in Semester One, 2014. The first offered two groups of engineers the chance to work with Visiting Scholar, Professor Joe Klewicki (University of New Hampshire/University of Melbourne), developing calibration devices for his current thermodynamics project, involving a few hours work in a lab over seven weeks. Students were given advice from PhD students attached to the project on how to advance their work.
The second opportunity was a project suggested by resident Physics PhD student and tutor Jackson Clarke, who, together with Physiotherapy PhD resident tutor, Sarah Ward, decided to investigate a sport science notion with the help of some of Trinity’s third-year science students: ‘Design a cross-trainer that best mimics a natural running gait’. The premise of the notion being that the shape that one’s feet trace out when on an elliptical cross-trainer can be changed by altering the geometry of the machine. The project was run with the help of Ormond, who generously allowed access to their gym and its equipment, and it is hoped that the findings will be developed into a paper.
The third project offered students a chance to work on the topic of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are coming up for renewal in 2015. The eight MDGs – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all 189 United Nations member states at the time. This masterclass had to be rescheduled to Semester Two, 2014 due to students’ rather over-full timetables. Honorary Associate Professor Chris Lamb will lead a virtual classroom discussion on the way that Australia has addressed the goal of gender equality.
Following the success of the Semester One program, further sessions are planned for Semester Two in the subjects of science ecology, economics and politics.
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