Physics and Astronomy to space engineering: a graduate’s story

Thanks to Jennifer Edwards from Lockheed Martin for her guest blogpost. It’s good to get an insight into where physics & astronomy can take you and how the knowledge and skills you develop can be applied.

I graduated from the University of Southampton in the summer of 2018 with a Masters Degree in Physics with Astronomy. When I began my degree, I was unsure as to what career path I hoped to end up on, but explored by doing two summer placements as an engineer during my studies.

Jennifer Edwards

The first was for Archangel Aerospace Ltd. as a Systems Integration Engineer working on UAV design, and the second working for Rolls-Royce as a Development Engineer. I found that I really enjoyed applying the Physics ‘textbook knowledge’ I had learnt, and that the critical thinking and analysis skills I had learnt on my degree benefited me hugely in my work.

Representing Lockheed Martin at UKSEDS student space conference

Lockheed Martin UK’s graduate scheme provides the opportunity to partake in four placements over a two-year period. Initially, I was concerned that going into an engineering company without having an engineering degree would hinder me or that I would find myself behind the other graduates, but that was not the case. As well as building technical skills and knowledge from across the company, the scheme provides the opportunity to develop skills such as management skills, application of the engineering life-cycle, and teamwork and communication skills. 

I started the graduate scheme in September 2018 as a Systems Engineer – an interdisciplinary field of engineering that primarily focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycle. My first placement involved modelling and simulation of re-entry vehicles, achieved by running bespoke prediction codes and statistical analyses. My Physics degree provided me with a good background level of knowledge of key physical phenomenon and some coding skills, however it was the ability to grasp new information quickly that was the most significant advantage.

I am currently working on operational analysis on a research and development project, for which I am relying heavily on my background physics knowledge, including optics and thermodynamics. As well as this, many of the key ‘soft’ skills I learnt during University are used daily, such as independent learning, time management and communication skills. I would recommend looking into engineering for any physicists who are interested in applying their scientific knowledge to real-life problems, enjoy working in a team and have a desire to learn and develop new skills.

Jennifer also told me:

I hope this gets people thinking about career options in engineering as there’s a big UK shortage!

Advertisements

SEPnet: careers information and Skills Transformer tool

SEPnet is the South East Physics Network, a network of nine universities in the South East of England, working together to deliver excellence in physics. SEPnet partners have useful careers pages on their websites full of information, advice and relevant resources for physics students.

SEPnet careers information

They also offer Skills Transformer which provides science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students with a structure to help you recognise, write about and talk about your skills. Skills Transformer shows you, through hearing from STEM graduates, why transferable skills are vital to working successfully in science and technical jobs after graduation and why being able to write and talk about them is fundamental to securing a job.

Spend 5 minutes trying out the online Skills Transformer tool and work through the sessions to help you prepare for placement or job application forms and for interviews.

Skills Transformer

Physics CareerLabs – Interviews & LinkedIn

I am running two workshops for physics & astronomy students. All welcome

  • Physics CareersLab – Get better at interviews

Got internship, job or PhD interviews coming up? Get some advice and a chance for some low-stress practice.

Monday 4 March, 5pm – 6pm, JCMB 4319B

  • Physics CareersLab – Making good use of LinkedIn

Want to learn about making a good profile? Using LinkedIn to help you find out about job roles and vacancies? Get some advice and a chance for some low-stress practice. Bring a device if you can.

Monday 11 March, 5pm – 6pm, JCMB 4319B

Thanks to Institute of Physics, Scotland

Great roadshow organised by Ozi, IOP Scotland student rep, outside the Magnet café to raise awareness of the benefits of student membership. Their website, Physics World magazine, events programme and contacts can introduce you to a range of options and career advice. Find out more online

Cool cakes too…

iop 2

iop scotland

The F- word and future success

Thought-provoking article on learning from failure from the Director of the Careers Service, Shelagh Green. Picks up on similar comments written by Margaret Harris, editor of Physics World, about physicists failing.

“In physics, failure and success are pretty clear-cut. On physics exams, especially, an answer is usually either right or wrong. Most people who choose to study physics are okay with this (indeed, some find the clarity appealing), but that is partly because they are usually “high fliers”, accustomed to getting top marks. The clear-cut nature of success in physics exams has, basically, reinforced their sense of themselves as successful people.

At some point, though, no matter how much of a high flier you are, you will fail. And as a professional physicist, you will fail pretty much all the time. Your experiments won’t work. Your ideas will go nowhere. Sooner or later, your theories will be disproved by observations. To be a successful physicist, then, you need to do failure well. The playwright Samuel Beckett put it nicely: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.””

The Careers Service Blog

Shelagh Green, our Director, on the f-word that’s not as bad as it sounds.

No, not that one.  I mean fail….I was prompted to think about what it feels like to fail and how we respond to failure, since reading this article .  A leading US entrepreneur credits her success to her dad’s regular question, What did you fail at this week?   It made me realise just how often we do fail: or fail to succeed in the way we imagined.  At times that sense of not achieving or getting the desired outcome, can be hard to take – we focus on the loss from the situation. It takes intentional effort (and possibly time) to spot the gains – What was the learning?  What would I do differently next time? What hadn’t I anticipated? What back-up plans could I have put in place? What have I learned about myself? …

View original post 118 more words

Graduating in physics with a 2:2 or a 3rd?

Some level-headed advice from the Institute of Physics.

Most people don’t hope to get a 2:2 when they enter university.

Neither are thirds the things that dreams are made of. And with most postgraduate courses and high-powered jobs in research being limited to those with 2:1 and up, you have the right to be a bit miffed. But, on the other hand, the world has by no means ended and you have the rest of your life to live, so what’s your next move?

Read on and take heart!

Find out more

SCI Day of Science and Careers

Organised by  School of Physics academic Dr Tiffany Wood, Director of Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership and Chair, SCI Scotland Group

*******************************************************

Calling UG and PG students across all scientific disciplines

SCI’s Day of Science & Careers , University of Edinburgh, 5 April 2017

Explore a wide range of careers in science-based industries. Speakers from industrial, academic and independent backgrounds will present their career pathway and offer insights in to what to look out for, and what to consider when choosing your next steps. Plus sessions on interview skills and CV writing, with opportunities to network with speakers and fellow delegates.

Talks will include the following areas:

  • Working in Analytical Chemistry
  • Intellectual Property & Patents
  • Life in an SME
  • Scientific Publishing
  • Academic Careers
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Academic/Industrial Partnerships
  • Scientific Marketing

For the full timed programme and to book online please visit: http://bit.ly/DOSCS17

Day of Science and Careers Scotland 2017 flyer_final