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Education

Aber robotics pioneer commemorated

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The Barnes ExoRover: With Stephen Fearn, Dr Matt Gunn, and Dr Helen Miles

A FULL scale model of the ExoMars rover which is set to search for life on Mars in 2021 has been named after a pioneering Aberystwyth University space roboticist.

Barnes has been named after the late Professor Dave Barnes who initiated Aberystwyth University’s involvement with the European Space Agency/Roscosmos mission to Mars.

Professor Barnes, who died suddenly in 2014, was also a leading member of the team that developed and built the innovative Beagle2 lander that formed part of the 2003 Mars Express mission.

Built by Stephen Fearn and Dr Matt Gunn from the Department of Physics, the Aberystwyth replica was unveiled by Sue Horne MBE, Head of Space Exploration for the UK Space Agency, and Dr Helen Miles from Aberystwyth University on Friday 29 June 2018, at a celebration of the work of Aberystwyth space scientists and solar physicists.

The Barnes ExoMars Rover will be used to promote the ESA/Roscosmos mission which is due to launch in 2020.

Using cameras and emulated instruments, the interactive model will also explain some of the science the mission’s actual rover will perform once it has landed on Mars.

Dr Helen Miles from the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University has been instrumental in designing many of Aberystwyth’s ExoMars outreach activities.

Dr Miles said: “Deciding to name our full size model after Professor Dave Barnes was a poignant moment for us, but one very much in keeping with a tradition that has developed over the years. Several prototype rovers have been built as we prepare for the mission, and all have names starting with ‘B’.

“There are several prototype rovers in existence, Bridget, Brian and Bruno developed by Airbus, and here at Aberystwyth we have been working with a miniature half scale prototype that we have called Blodwen. So Barnes fitted perfectly.”

Dr Helen Miles developed a virtual model to produce simulated camera images from the rover, which is being used by engineers building the mission’s actual rover for the mission.

The ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Rover is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and built by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage.

Professor Barnes’ work on ExoMars included the development of the rover’s colour swatch, which was inspired by medieval stained glass.

Designed to withstand the very high levels of ultraviolet light on Mars which causes colours to fade quickly, the swatch will be used to calibrate the mission’s camera and spectrometer systems to ensure colours are recorded accurately.

Professor Barnes’s work has been progressed by the space robotics team at Aberystwyth University, led by Dr Matt Gunn, who is a member of three international instrument teams on the ExoMars mission.

The Aberystwyth team have been involved with field testing of prototype instruments and developing the pipeline for processing images sent back to Earth from Mars.

Dr Gunn and colleagues have been testing the mission’s camera system, PanCam, in remote desert like locations around the world, including Iceland, Utah in the USA and the Atacama Desert in South America.

Dr Gunn said: “The camera systems on this mission are highly sensitive as the scientists who work with these images will be looking for very subtle changes in colour. These images are not ordinary colour photographs; they will be used to work out the different types of rocks on Mars. It is known that some rocks form in wet environments, so accurately interpreting the images may help mission scientists to pinpoint where to look for possible signs of life.”

“Professor Barnes started all of our research with ExoMars and was a pioneer in space robotics. He is dearly missed and naming the Aberystwyth model is particularly apt. We are hoping the model will continue to inspire people in the way that Dave inspired us.”

The Aberystwyth ExoMars Rover is available for shows and school visits. To find out more visit the ExoMars at Aberystwyth University website. It is also possible to follow Barnes on Twitter @BarnesRover.c

Education

Vital support for job seekers and employers in West Wales

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TO MATCH job seekers with employers and career agencies across West Wales, a virtual jobs fair is taking place on Wednesday 9 September.

The free online event will be hosted by Working Wales, which is delivered by Careers Wales, and is in partnership with Job Centre Plus teams across West Wales and the south west and mid Wales Regional Learning and Skills Partnership.

Now, more than ever, job seekers and employers are relying on online support to find jobs and fill vacancies.

The event will run through Working Wales’ Facebook channels and will be split into two regional events covering West Wales mid and south. 10am-11am is for job seekers and employers in Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Powys and Neath Port Talbot. 2pm-3pm will focus on Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Swansea.

Attendees for the free event will have access to a wide variety of job vacancies from many sectors across West Wales as well as expert careers advice to support with job applications.

Working Wales is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and was launched by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates in May 2019.

Within the first year the service has directly assisted over 37,000 people across Wales. Careers Wales chief executive, Nikki Lawrence said “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the west to deliver a virtual jobs fair. Our careers advice and guidance is a vital part of supporting the economy during this pandemic, and these online events allow us to effectively and safely continue reaching and supporting our customers during these challenging times.”

To register your interest in these events, follow Working Wales on Facebook @WorkingWales. If you are an employer with vacancies to fill please also get in touch.

Available to anyone over the age of 16, Working Wales provides a one-to-one, tailored employability advice and guidance service, supporting people across Wales with job searching, CV writing, interview preparation, training and upskilling as well as with redundancy support.

For more information on Working Wales visit: www.workingwales.gov.wales or call 0800 028 4844

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Education

Oxbridge success for Pembrokeshire College students

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A-LEVEL students at Pembrokeshire College are celebrating after an impressive set of A-level results which has seen four students secure their places to study at either Oxford or Cambridge.

A breakdown of results shows 36% of students achieving A*-A grades and 88% achieving A*-C grades. With growing A-level numbers the College saw 278 results at A*-C grade out of a total of 315.

With the results for vocational courses now also out, over 260 A-level and Extended Diploma students are now hopeful of securing their places at university.

Students heading to the University of Oxford are Jessica Hillier (A*A*A*A) to read Biology at Jesus College, Lorna McEvoy (A*A*A) to read History at Trinity College and Lizzy Rowland (A*A*A) to read Law at Christ Church College. Meanwhile fellow student Alyssa Baker (A*A*A*) will be heading to the University of Cambridge to read Human, Social and Political Sciences at Sydney Sussex College.

Also heading to the University of Cambridge to read Modern Foreign Languages at Trinity College is Federation student Emma Nicholas. We would like to join Milford Haven High School in congratulating Emma on her results.

Other notable A-level successes include former Ysgol Bro Gwaun students Callum Harries who achieved four A* grades and Sam Rummery who achieved three A* grades. Congratulations also to former Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi students Tom Sheppard who achieved two A* grades and an A grade, and Caitlin Howe who achieved three A grades.

This year has also seen BTEC National Diploma students excelling once again with many students achieving Distinction grades and taking up places at universities across the UK to study a range of subjects including Cyber Security, Biological Sciences, Law, Pharmacology and Midwifery.

University destinations for Pembrokeshire College students span the length and breadth of the UK and include: Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Aberystwyth, Durham and Edinburgh.

After receiving this year’s A-level results, Principal Dr Barry Walters commented: “These results are testament to the hard work of our learners. With university places being offered prior to lockdown, based on each individual learner’s performance and achievements, we are mindful not to let the current situation detract from how hard these learners have worked throughout both their AS and A2 year to achieve the results that we see today.

“Grades were estimated based on work already submitted and it is important that the achievements of these learners are not underplayed. To have four students progressing to either Oxford or Cambridge is a huge achievement for the learners themselves, the teaching staff and the College as a whole.  We are also delighted to note an increase in the number of our students gaining places at other high profile Russell Group and Sutton Trust Institutions.

“To the significant number of learners, from both A-levels and vocational diplomas, now progressing to universities across the UK to study a vast array of programmes, we wish them all the best of luck and hope that they will keep in touch as they progress through their studies and into their future careers.”

For further information on the courses available at the College contact Admissions on 0800 9 776 778 or go to pembs.ac.uk/courses

 

Summary of Results:

Overall pass rate 100%

A*/A grade 36%

A*-C grade 88%

 

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Education

Young cleaners helped ensure schools safe

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YOUNG people are helping to ensure that all schools in Pembrokeshire meet the required Covid 19 hygiene safety standards as they re-open their doors to pupils.
Some 30 young people aged between 18 and 25 have been employed by Pembrokeshire County Council as additional cleaning staff to support schools with the extra work necessary to help keep pupils safe when they return to education.
Pembrokeshire Youth Service worked quickly with other PCC teams to mobilise the small army of cleaners as soon as the additional cleaning support was identified, says Chris Powles, Youth Team Manager.
“Young people have been disproportionately affected in the employment market during the pandemic, with the majority of summer employment they would have usually taken up in the tourism, leisure, and retail sectors being unavailable due to lockdown restrictions,” said Chris.
“By linking with secondary schools, Pembrokeshire College, the Youth Service Outreach and Cam Nesa teams, young people were contacted directly to be given the opportunity to apply for cleaning posts in primary, secondary and special schools across the county.
“The response was overwhelming. Young people have been keen not only to secure employment but to also play their part in supporting communities in dealing with the pandemic.”
One of the new employees, Courtney Cramb, said: “I love that this opportunity has been given to students especially during this time as many of us are unable to work but still have things like car insurance to pay for!
“I also think it will be a good experience and gives us the opportunity to help by giving back to the community whilst earning some money.”
The new staff are currently going through pre-employment checks and training to enable them to begin their casual contracts and start earning the incomes they thought that they had missed out on.
“This was a fast paced process with the requests for additional cleaning support from schools only coming in once they had been able to assess the need, whilst planning and risk assessing for their reopening on the 29th June,” said Cllr David Simpson, Council Leader.
“We are delighted to have given young people the opportunity to be part of the PCC workforce, and it shows the ability of Council departments to work together in responding quickly and effectively whilst trying to minimise the impact on those who are affected by the pandemic.”

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