Career and Relevant-to-Industry Skills Programme (CRISP)

What we do

Career and Relevant-to-Industry Skills Programme (CRISP)

Building career skills during your research at the MacDiarmid Institute 

The Career and Relevant-to-Industry Skills Programme (CRISP) introduces skills to support the success of MacDiarmid Institute members in their future careers – whatever that career may be. Open to Masters and PhD students and Postdocs, CRISP explores and develops a diverse range of non-academic skills that is relevant to a range of employment settings, from start-ups to industrial R&D, and from public institutions to professional services companies. Many of these skills are also useful in academia. We anticipate that future employers will recognise CRISP as a valuable addition to your CV. 

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  • CRISP is an extracurricular programme, in parallel to your PhD research, taking up a maximum of 12 days over a 2-year period.
  • The programme is opt-in and modular. Topics can be selected based on your interests, career aspirations, or out of curiosity. They will be offered in a 2-year rolling cycle.
  • The topics on offer have been identified based on their relevance to potential employers.
  • High-quality, focused and stimulating training sessions will be delivered by a range of experts.
  • Attendance at CRISP will be funded and fully supported by the MacDiarmid Institute.

Upcoming Modules

To take place in-person during 27-29 June at University of Canterbury.

Register here
Please register for these modules by no later than 5pm on Friday 12 May 2023

How to Budget and Spend for Research Success

– Ensuring successful financial management of R&D projects.

Tuesday 27 June 

Organizations rely on financial reports and tools to plan, track, and communicate progress on almost all activities, including their R&D. Familiarity with the concepts of financial management is essential for success in mid to senior level roles across industry, academia, start-ups, and government. In this workshop you’ll be introduced to concepts used in financial planning, reporting, and day-to-day management of R&D intensive projects. You’ll gain the ability to think about your own research and relevant early career roles from the perspective of financial decision makers, enabling you to contribute to the effective planning and running of R&D projects. The skills learned here will allow you to accelerate your early career into leadership roles with confidence.

Delivered by a small group of consulting accounting experts who advise large and small companies on structuring their R&D programmes for reporting and tax purposes, many of whom also have science PhD qualifications.

Building your Personal Effectiveness

– Practical steps towards elevating your performance, productivity, and wellbeing in the modern workplace.

Wednesday 28 June
Delivered by Rachel King, an effective NZ-based facilitator from PEP Worldwide

Working well doesn’t happen by accident: it is a skill that needs to be learned and practised. This session is focussed on liberating you from unproductive habits and equipping you with new ones, so that you face less complexity and wasted time, fewer interruptions, and fewer meaningless tasks and meetings. Participants will be taught to filter and improve their ability to focus time and energy on what matters most: whether it’s to think, execute or connect, tools will be provided to improve productivity while reducing stress. Practical application is built-in to this session, so please bring your device with you.

Examples of the practical topics covered include the efficient use of digital communications, achieving optimum workload by making interruptions and distractions a thing of the past, effective prioritisation, workload management, making the most of meetings, and learning how to work well in a hybrid environment.

The overall goal is to learn how to unlock what’s truly important in becoming more effective, and the fundamentals on how to boost workplace performance. Participants will be equipped with the skills, behaviours and collaborative approach needed to seamlessly manage the macro and micro moments that make up the day, helping them work smarter, not harder.

Deep Tech Hackathon 

–  Rapid, fun, and focused on software design and coding solutions for company challenges.  All MacDiarmid students are welcome, regardless of your current knowledge of software development or coding.

Wednesday 28 June 

This Deep Tech Hackathon will expose you to experience the early stages of designing and developing software solutions to real-world challenges posed by partner companies who will be joining us for this exciting day. Software development relies on a diverse set of skills to generate meaningful solutions that are effective, practical, and intuitive to use. The team working on a solution requires multiple perspectives, from people with domain knowledge of the problem at hand (e.g. chemical analytes in a complex mixture); through to creative people who can design the flow of information and decision points for users (user interface design); and the coders who bring these elements together. This session will give you an opportunity to experiment with your skills and throw them into the mix to see what can be developed in a full day “hackathon” setting

You’ll get to work on real-world challenges posed by some of our deep tech start-up company scientists in the room. There will be IT development professionals on hand to provide insights, share information on frequently used methodologies, and give guidance on how you can contribute. Places will be limited, so register soon!

The Product Development Lifecycle

– Understanding how R&D is planned and executed from an idea through to launch.

Thursday 29 June 

From concept to product launch, a diverse set of skills, resources and processes need to be brought together to ensure a successful outcome. Each member of an R&D, design, commercial, or other team needs to understand their own contribution and what to expect from colleagues. This full-day workshop will provide you with an overview of the steps involved in planning and executing a successful product development project for products that rely heavily on scientific work (deep tech products).

The material for this workshop is being designed by senior research leaders from large corporate and small start-up companies, including MacDiarmid Alumni and those that have partnered with NZ scientific institutes for product development.

Delivered by senior research leaders from large corporate and small start-up companies, including MacDiarmid Alumni and those that have partnered with NZ scientific institutes for product development.

We are also in liaison with Christchurch-based companies to hold a site visit at two R&D intensive companies. Places will be limited according to the company premises so register your interest in joining these early to avoid missing out.

How it Works

Participants in CRISP will earn a ‘badge’ for participation in each opt-in module. The MacDiarmid Institute will record and attest to the badges obtained by each student. There will be approximately 15 modules on offer in total over a 2-year period, and we have set a goal of 8 badges for achievement of a full CRISP programme. There will be no formal assessment, and badges do not constitute formal qualifications.

Modules will be delivered as face-to-face (where possible) in clusters e.g. 2-3 modules may be available over a 2-day period in one location. Each module will typically take half a day or a full day, and some may be delivered in parallel. A small amount of preparatory and follow-up material may be delivered online.

The modules offered will develop skills that are broadly relevant to many career choices (not just commercial and industry careers). They have been selected through analysis of our alumni data, as well as feedback from a range of potential employers of materials science graduates. We have consulted with start-ups, multinational R&D intensive companies, investors, professional services companies, and government agencies.

Workshops will be interactive, allowing participants to develop an understanding of how to apply new skills to their own areas of research, or enable them to bridge between their scientific discipline and a related field.

Eligibility and selection. Any member of the Institute who is a Masters or PhD student, or a Postdoc is eligible to participate. 

To get involved. Familiarise yourself with the information here, keep an eye on communications from the Institute (e.g. through our weekly Update, newsletters, social media and/or MESA communications) and bookmark this webpage.

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You are encouraged to select 8 or more module options within a 2-year period. It does not matter when you start this 2-year period: topics will roll over on a continuing basis. Mix and match the skills in a way that supports your career aspirations, or to explore things you don’t know about.

Programme scheduling will be flexible - for example, much of the information for future workshops is still to be developed at present. Our goal is to release as much information as possible to help you plan your participation, and our present planning is listed below (for further progress, see the FAQs and more information document). 

Previous Modules:

“Investment and Sustainability ”

Investment Dynamics for science-based start-up
(17 March 2022), was delivered by Bridgewest Ventures

Sustainability of products, processes and business models through advanced materials
24 March 2022), was delivered by the Sustainable Business Network

“Research Commercialization and Wellbeing”

The Friendly TTO (Technology Transfer Office)
(30 June 2022), was delivered by representatives from Technology Transfer Offices across the Institute’s network 

Developing Healthy Habits for Resilience and Wellbeing in the Workplace
(7 July 2022), was delivered by Julene Hope of Bright Spot Consulting

“Personal Impact and Project Management”

Creating Personal Impact in the Workplace
(30 November 2022) was delivered by professional facilitators Lisa Allen and Lucy Fookes

Project Management Skills for Your Future Career
(30 November 2022) was delivered by three professional New Zealand-based project managers.

Sessions will recommence in a rolling 2-year cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and more information:

Downloadable as a PDF here.

For any further information or questions about any upcoming sessions, please contact contact us at