Information for Partner Companies - FAQs

Information for Partner Companies: FAQs

How are the projects chosen?

The Sponsoring Company completes the Project Proposal Form and sends this to the Centre Director, or their Academic Contact. This includes the project title and description, proposed Industrial Supervisor and Commercial Contact.

How do we assess the candidates' suitability?

The candidates have two interviews. The first will be at either Heriot-Watt and/or the host University (depending on where the Academic Supervisor is based if a specific project has been identified), where they are assessed on their academic qualifications and suitability for the EngD programme. The candidate's details will then be forwarded to suitable companies for their consideration. It is then up to the Sponsor Company to arrange interviews at the company premises with the suitable candidates. Should the Sponsor Company wish to sponsor a candidate, they must inform the Centre who will then contact the candidate with an informal offer, followed by a formal written offer of a place on the programme.

Where is the Research Engineer based?

The Research Engineer spends approximately 75% of their time at the company's premises, although this could be more or less, depending on the individual Research Engineer/ project/ Sponsor Company. The Research Engineer attends the University of St Andrews in Semester 1 of Year 1 for taught courses in Photonics and Optics Theory and Practice and the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde in Semester 2 of Year 1 for taught courses in Electronic Engineering Theory and Practice, then around the beginning of June, they will move to their company to work on the industrial research project.  They will be based in the company for most of the remainder of the course, although they will have to be on campus for occasional days for the 3 mandatory Business courses, to sit exams, to meet with their supervisors and attend the Annual Conference and Annual Appraisals.  

Selected courses are available in distance-learning format, allowing company employees to pursue an EngD without spending a large amount of time off-site.

How does the Company top-up to the Research Engineer's work?

In the case of a standard student, the company will contribute £12,500 per annum for the 4 years of the course, in order to provide the RE with a top-up of £5,000 per annum to the EPSRC stipend of at least £15,363 per annum and also to provide the Academic Supervisor with £3,500 to cover support of the RE and other costs (eg for travel).  The company will be invoiced by the University, unless they specifically request a quarterly invoice. The top-up and EPSRC stipend is then paid directly to the RE in monthly instalments by the University.

In the case of a company employee, the company is required to make a contribution of £5,000 per annum over the four years of the EngD programme. Tuition fees and academic supervision costs for company employees are covered by the CDT.

How do we pay the Centre Contribution?

The company will be invoiced for the yearly Centre contribution soon after the RE starts the programme. This would usually be paid in one instalment per annum., unless otherwise agreed with the Finance Office.

Who pays for the Research Engineer's expenses?

There are guidelines available on expenses in the section 'Financial Arrangements' in the CDT Applied Photonics Handbook. Generally they are met by both the company and the Centre.

Will employment be offered after the Research Engineer has completed the EngD?

It is hoped that the Sponsor Company would consider the Research Engineer for a position within the company, should a suitable post be available. However, there is no obligation on either side, nor are the Research Engineers under any expectation that this will be the case.

Does the Resaerch Engineer only work on the EngD?

For standard Resaerch Engineers, yes, the EngD is a full-time course. Although based in the company, it is expected that the Resaerch Engineer will only work on tasks associated with their EngD project . Details of how the taught element of the EngD operates is already mentioned above and should give the company an idea of how much time the Resaerch Engineer will be spending at the University. For company employees, it is imperative that both the Research Engineer and the Sponsor Company are aware of the commitment required in order to complete the EngD and allow sufficient time and resources in order to do so.

Will the Research Engineer work on a single project?

The EngD project may be a single project or several related smaller projects that fit within an agreed area. If several projects are undertaken, the Research Engineer would write-up a portfolio-style thesis rather than a traditional PhD-style thesis.

What happens if an Research Engineer resigns?

Should an Research Engineer resign from the company or EngD programme, it is possible to offer the project to another suitable candidate. Alternatively if the company has an employee who they wish to second onto the EngD then this is acceptable, subject to an interview at the University. Companies should ensure that they retain all paperwork relating to the project to enable a replacement to continue work on the project.

Do we sign an Intellectual Property (IPR) Agreement?

The Centre will send an IPR Agreement (standard/Employee) to the commercial contact within the Sponsor Company for review, prior to the Research Engineer starting at the company but preferably as soon as practical once the Research Engineer has returned their acceptance of offer letter.  Four copies of the IPR agreement need to be signed by the Academic Supervisor at the host University, the Research Engineer, the commercial contact within the Sponsor Company, and the Commercial Contact at the host University.

How often should the supervisor meet with the Research Engineer?

The Research Engineer is expected to maintain regular contact with their Academic and Industrial Supervisors. The nature of this contact will vary, dependent on the practices of the individuals involved, and the nature of the project work. As a guide, the Research Engineer is expected to make contact with both supervisors at least once a fortnight –- this may be in the form of a face-to-face meeting, telephone meeting, or e-mail correspondence. The supervisors should ensure that this level of contact is maintained throughout the project.