USW Family | Mindful Mountains: Adam Jones, PhD student


To mark Mental Health Awareness Week next week (9 - 15 May) Adam Jones, PhD Research student in Electrical, Electronic and Photonics Engineering, tells us about Mindful Mountains – a group trek up Pen y Fan – which he has helped organise for postgraduate research students at USW.

Adam, 32, who also lectures in Engineering, is based in the Wireless and Optoelectronics Research and Innovation Centre (WORIC) as a part-time Research Fellow. His PhD, conducted with industrial partner Tata Steel, is exploring and developing a novel, non-destructive online measurement system for coating thickness measurement on steel packaging goods products.

As a former soldier, Adam joined the Army in 2008 at the age of 18, and served for seven years, including two tours of Afghanistan with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force – acting as his brigade’s eyes and ears, working in intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and communications exploitation.

He left at the age of 25 for a number of reasons; his brigade were withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and he had lost a close friend and fellow soldier during his deployment.

After deciding to pursue his interest in engineering, Adam joined the ELCAS scheme – which promotes lifelong learning for members of the Armed Forces with exemplary records – to study a Foundation Degree in Engineering at USW. He then worked at Tata Steel as a product engineering intern while he studied his BSc (Hons) Engineering, and stayed on at USW to study a Masters, before embarking on his ESF-funded KESS PhD.

As part of his role as student rep for the postgraduate research community in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science, Adam works closely with USW Graduate School to address any issues his fellow students may have, and help make their research journey as positive as possible.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of PGR students were not been able to see each other in person, and so once restrictions were lifted, Adam and the Graduate School worked with other student reps to organise events on campus where they could spend time together again.

They then came up with the idea of Mindful Mountains, which will take place on Wednesday 11 May, as a way of using physical activity to improve the students’ mental health and well-being.

Adam said: “A lot of PGR students will never have been to the Brecon Beacons, much less tackled Pen y Fan, so we thought it would be a great way to show them some of Wales’ beautiful scenery while having a chat on the way up to the summit.

“We don’t yet know the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health, and I know I’ve benefited in the past from similar events organised by the Army, which help those who have been on a tour and are perhaps struggling following that experience, so we decided to see if the PGR student community would like to take part. I was really pleased that within a few minutes of me sending out the email, I had around 15 responses.”

The Mindful Mountains trek, which takes place on Wednesday 11 May, is open to PGR students from all faculties, at any stage of their research journey. The group will travel by coach to the Brecon Beacons, and after a safety briefing and route plan, they will set off up to the summit of Pen y Fan, where they will stop for lunch before heading back.

If you are a PGR student, or know someone who would like to join the trek, contact Adam [email protected] or Llinos Spargo, Graduate School Co-ordinator [email protected]

#wellbeing #unilife