Call for Applications: Apply for the DARA-AP Basic Training Programme

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Africa is becoming the focus of the world of astronomy. Construction is underway of the mid-frequency dishes of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – the next-generation global radio astronomy facility in South Africa. There is an ambition to deploy further dishes in the eight SKA African Partner Countries (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia). South Africa also hosts the South African Large Telescope (SALT), which, with its 10 m diameter mirror, is one of the largest optical telescopes in the world. To support the development of astronomy in Africa and ensure that opportunities in this area are open to African citizens, the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy project runs a basic training programme to offer any suitably qualified person the opportunity to become familiar with the basics of astrophysics and radio astronomy and gain hands-on experience. 

The training, which will be held in Kenya and South Africa, will be delivered by experts from the Kenya, South Africa, and the UK. It will include hands-on training in optical astronomy at the Turkana Basin Institute in northern Kenya, and practical training in radio astronomy at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in South Africa. In addition, participants will receive training in computer skills in Linux and Python. The programme will also provide advice on the industrial opportunities that knowledge of astronomy techniques can unlock, from experienced entrepreneurs in the commercial space sector. 

The basic training programme will consist of: 

  • Eight  weeks of lectures, workshops and hands-on sessions spread out over a year; 
  • Trainees will receive a certificate of completion and can request a reference letter from their trainers; 
  • Trainees will then be able to apply for advanced training places in astronomy at Master’s or PhD level or use their new skills to aid the development of related high-tech industries.
Eligibility

In South Africa, the programme is open to current or recently graduated Honours students from historically disadvantaged Institutions who want to undertake the training in astronomy. No prior experience in astrophysics is required. Applicants would normally be expected to study physics or other relevant subjects such as mathematics, computing or engineering. Students currently studying or employed must obtain a letter of permission from their Head of Department or line manager stating they will be given the time off to attend all the basic training programme elements.

Training Package

The basic training programme is fully funded by the University of Leeds, and therefore, students will not have to pay a fee or any costs. The training package includes accommodation, meals and travel to the training venues in South Africa and Kenya. An out-of-pocket allowance will also be included.

How to Apply

Applicants should complete the application form and send it together with a CV, passport copy (if in possession) and transcripts to the following contact from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) by 20 August 2024:

In addition, all application emails must have in copy, e.c.smith1@leeds.ac.uk.

For more information, click here.

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