I have had a great placement year with lots of variety, learning new programming languages and technologies while gaining experience working in a professional software development team for the first time.
Part of my course was to do a placement year and I found STFC through my University. I applied for the placement offered by RAL Space in CEDA because I would be able to learn and gain great experience for a career in this field. I also saw that the work done at CEDA benefits the environmental science community, something I care a lot about. This and the feeling of contributing to a public scientific research body is what motivated me to do my placement.
I started my placement doing a lot of learning tasks such as updating teaching material for an National Centre for Atmospheric Science Python course that CEDA help run and teach. This was a good chance for me to get more accustomed to Python and get some experience teaching and helping at the course. I then progressed onto larger scale projects, including reworking the system that we use to log our data download statistic and also developing and deploying a new Web Processing Service. The Web Processing Service allows scientists to execute algorithms and run models on our data in their web browser, with all of the processing and data storage handled by our data centre JASMIN (which we co-manage with the Scientific Computing Department) in the background, and the results delivered in the browser.
These have been great opportunities to practice my skills in Python and software engineering generally and I've also learned a lot of new things. I had never done any web development before but this year I learned a lot about different kinds of web services and created a web frontend that I am proud of. I also learned how to use new technologies such as Elasticsearch and Kubernetes, which I didn't have experience with before. This is great for developing a set of skills and technologies that I can take forward into a future career in software engineering.
In February of this year, I went to a European Space Agency conference in Munich called Big Data in Space (BiDS) with a colleague (see the photo!). This was a great opportunity for me. I learned a lot about cutting edge machine learning and cloud computing technologies as well as also getting a good insight into how our work here fits in with the global environmental science community.
Working at RAL Space is great, I really appreciate the extra time off at Christmas and flexibility of being able to shift my working hours and work from home. Not only that, but the people here are lovely and I made friends very easily with my work colleagues.
Overall I would say my placement has been an excellent opportunity to learn many new skills and gain experience working with an amazing team.
Image 1 (Middle left) : With the CEDA team at the Christmas meal.
Image 2 (Bottom right) : Me at the BiDS Conference. We were attending a speech at the Munich Residenz!