I currently have two PhD students funded by AWE. Their projects are not weapons-based, and I am very grateful for the funding, especially at a time when the EPSRC are trying to leave people like myself high and dry. An important part of a research collaboration is, of course, meetings. Not everything can be done by e-mail, chat (e.g. IM, Skype etc) or telephone, and face-to-face discussions are vital. But, here as they say, is the rub. The AWE don’t allow laptops or mobile phones onsite. You can see the rationale in terms of protecting secret information, but it’s rather hard to apply this to our particular projects! Nevertheless, rules are rules.
We have our next meeting on Thursday. I planned the date because I have another meeting tomorrow in London, so I can stay over and travel the comparatively short distance to Reading on Thursday morning. But I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time! It means 2 days, yes, 2 days without a mobile phone or a laptop, which for a connected (OK and internet-addicted) individual like me is almost impossible to contemplate. Internet cafes will have to provide some respite, but they are not my favourite locations. And my diary and contacts are all on my phone …
I should of course say that you can take mobile phones and laptops and leave them at AWE’s reception. But I’m not prepared to do that, as anything is left at the owner’s risk, and it is not a risk I am prepared to take.
Of course I’ll survive, but I do think it is ridiculous that in the 21st Century there are still places that have these restrictions.
But it’s time to stop wingeing and get back to the marking!