How did you get into your job?
I was searching for a year-long placement as part of my BSc in Physics and Astrophysics at Nottingham Trent University. I heard about STFC from other placement students who had previously been here and as soon as I saw the RAL applications online, I applied straight away. I had my interview in October 2017 and started working here in August 2018.
What is your role?
I'm currently working as an engineer in the Millimetre-Wave Technology Group. The main project I'm working on is ASTEC (Astronomical System, Technology and Engineering Collaboration). The aim of the project is to upgrade a receiver to be placed at the Large Millimetre Telescope (LMT) in Mexico so that it can be used for astronomical observations.
What's the best thing about your job?
It's a continual learning process- I'm always learning new things and it keeps everything interesting. I love having the opportunity to collaborate with people all over the world. There are so many experiences I'm receiving that I wouldn't be able to get in a university lab through working with a group that's world-leading in millimetre wave technology.
Why is it important you do what you do?
The engineering behind scientific instruments is so important because a scientist may have an idea where they know what and how they want to do something, but it can take an engineer to go in there with a problem solving and creative mind-set to translate those ideas into reality.
For ASTEC, in collaboration with Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) and the University of Manchester, we are upgrading a receiver previously used for atmospheric measurements into a receiver for astronomical measurements to be placed at the LMT. Our proof of concept will show the telescope can work at a particular frequency (~340GHz) it doesn't operate at currently. This means in the future we could install a cryogenic receiver that could be used to look for potentially undiscovered spectral lines, or that could help us understand star forming regions or other areas of interest in the millimetre wave region.
What advice would you give to people looking for a job in your industry?
Placement years are an incredible opportunity to get some experience of working before you graduate. It's usually what life is like after graduation and really gives you an idea of what you might like to do for the rest of your career. I would advise other students to get as much experience as they can working in their desired field before they graduate.
Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self now?
I would encourage my younger self to keep going, follow your dreams and you'll end up where you want to be!
1999 - The year I tried to find my Christmas presents early
1999 - The year I first visited the Boston Museum of Science with my family... there have been many trips since!
2013 - The year I visited an exhibition on the Large Hadron Collider
2014 - The year I met Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell - an inspiration of mine
2018 - The year I gave my first research presentation and started working at RAL Space!