SIT hosting combined research symposium

Research-active Te Pūkenga staff and postgraduate students have converged this week at the SIT | Te Pūkenga Invercargill campus for the annual Otago Polytechnic, Southern Institute of Technology, and Ara Institute of Canterbury joint research symposium (OPSITARA).

Under the new Te Pūkenga structure, OPSITARA is the research symposium for region four (the southern region), but for 2023 the event has been opened to researchers from all regions due to no national Te Pūkenga research symposium taking place this year.

Symposium chairs Dr James Savage (SIT research co-ordinator) and Dr Sally Bodkin-Allen (SIT research manager), encouraged participation from all regions of Te Pūkenga, and the response has been positive. About a quarter of presentations taking place at the event are from researchers based outside region four.

Dr Savage said he and Dr Bodkin-Allen are looking forward to welcoming around 115 people to the symposium. As well as this, contributors from the southern region and beyond who were unable to travel to Invercargill, are providing pre-recorded talks to be presented during the event and made available online.

In total, over 115 research presentations are scheduled for this year, showcasing a broad range of topics from applied and technological research, Māori research, creative practice, and pedagogical research.

"Presentations around construction and infrastructure, business, and health and wellbeing, are especially well-represented, as are those focusing on teaching and learning in the vocational sector," Dr Savage said.

About 60 of the presentations will be traditional in-person research talks, and 40 are pre-recorded. The remainder are a mixture of creative practice presentations, research posters, and working meetings of research communities of practice.

After hosting the national ITP symposium last year, Dr Savage and Dr Bodkin-Allen received a number of positive comments, about the event, which gave them confidence in opening OPSITARA up to attendees from outside the region.

"We are very much building on the momentum created from the ITP symposium," Dr Savage said.

It was fantastic that SIT was able to host such an event at the end of a challenging year for the sector, they said — a testament to the importance SIT places on research and on building connections among the business divisions.

Te Pūkenga regional executive director Megan Pōtiki opened the symposium yesterday while incoming national rangahau and research director Jamie Smiler, will close the event.

The symposium started yesterday and ends today.