Elle Smith
23 Jun 2021



Software Engineer at the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA)


​​​​​​Elle Smith, Software Engineer at the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA)​

Credit: Elle Smith

​​How did you get into your job?

I joined the CEDA team in 2019 via the STFC Graduate Scheme​. I completed a BSc in Physics at Durham University (2015-19) with a year abroad.​

The first time I started to code was in my first year of university, where I was studying physics. We had a whole module learning how to apply our programming skills to solve physics-based problems. I hated this module, I felt like I never really knew what was going on, but I stuck with it. As time went on and I practiced, I started to enjoy this work more and more, although I still never considered that software engineering would be something I would pursue.

It was only when I was starting applying for jobs that I thought about what I actually enjoy doing the most - and what I would continue to enjoy even when I was doing it every day! The answer I settled on was using code to solve real-life problems, which is how I ended up working at CEDA. 

What is your role?

I am a Software Engineer focusing on environmental data analysis, providing data and computing services to researchers working in the environmental sciences in the UK and the wider international community.​

What are you working on and why is it important?

One of the projects that I’ve been working on is building a Web Processing Service (WPS)​ which provides access to global climate projections from the largest ever climate modelling project to date - the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 (CMIP6). Large datasets like CMIP6 can be complex and often intimidating for users. Our tool allows users to subset large datasets by time and space. This means that users can easi​ly access and download only the data that they need, making working with it easier and more efficient.

Access to this data in this way has been much anticipated, so it’s great knowing that work I have done is contributing to current climate science research.

What’s the best thing about your job?

One of my favourite things about my work is that it supports the environmental research community. This makes it even more enjoyable as I feel like I’m contributing to research into important issues such as climate change. 

​What do you value most about working for RAL Space?

For me, the best part about RAL Space is the people that I've been able to work with. Every single person has been friendly and encouraging and I've always felt able to talk to anyone. This applies especially to the people in my division, I've learnt so much through working with others and asking them questions. It's also been great to be able to work on real projects with real responsibility right from the start, despite joining as a graduate. ​

What would you like your younger self to know?

I never would have expected that I would be working as a Software Engineer, especially while I was struggling through my programming module at university, but I’m very glad to be doing it!

To find out more about career opportunities at STFC, take a look here. ​