This was a great student-led event with opportunities for students and graduates. One of the UoE student hosts was Lewis Lappin who has just started an internship through the SPiN placements scheme. He is working this summer as a robotic systems engineer with GMV.
2019 National Student Space Conference: attendees, exhibitors, staff and some of the speakers. Image credit: UKSEDS
The UK Space sector
The UK space industry is seeing very ambitious growth. There are currently 130 organisations (companies, research organisations) in the UK space sector. This is an increase of 27% in the last two years and amounts to 9% of all UK employers.
The industry is essentially split into two segments: upstream and downstream. Upstream focuses on sending objects into…
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.
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.
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!
The science of what makes good chocolate has been revealed by researchers studying a 140-year-old mixing technique. The team in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy have uncovered the physics behind the process responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture.
Scientists have uncovered the physics behind the process – known as conching – which is responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture. The findings may hold the key to producing confectionary with lower fat content, and could help make chocolate manufacturing more energy efficient. A team led by the University of Edinburgh studied mixtures resembling liquid chocolate created using the conching process, which was developed by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879.
Their analysis, which involved measuring the density of mixtures and how they flow at various stages of the process, suggests conching may alter the physical properties of the microscopic sugar crystals and other granular ingredients of chocolate. Until now, the science behind the process was poorly understood. The new research reveals that conching – which involves mixing ingredients for several hours – produces smooth molten chocolate by breaking down lumps of ingredients into finer grains and reducing friction between particles.
Before the invention of conching, chocolate had a gritty texture. This is because the ingredients form rough, irregular clumps that do not flow smoothly when mixed with cocoa butter using other methods, the team says. Their insights could also help improve processes used in other sectors – such as ceramics manufacturing and cement production – that rely on the mixing of powders and liquids.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved a collaboration with researchers from New York University. The work in Edinburgh was funded by Mars Chocolate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
For more information about science at Mars UK, visit their website.
Professor Wilson Poon, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the study, said:
We hope our work can help reduce the amount of energy used in the conching process and lead to greener manufacturing of the world’s most popular confectionary product. By studying chocolate making, we have been able to gain new insights into the fundamental physics of how complex mixtures flow. This is a great example of how physics can build bridges between disciplines and sectors.”
The Space Placements in INdustry scheme (SPIN) provides an introductory link for those considering employment(and wanting to build experience) in the space sector with space sector organisations looking to find the most talented and enthusiastic people to ensure the future. It’s managed by the UK Space Agency and supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult. They offer paid summer internships with lots of benefits. Kathie Bowden from the UK Space Agency says:
“Please spread the word to your students there are some great opportunities now – and more to come – in the next few weeks.”
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
Lockheed Martin UK has its HQ in London and 16 key sites across the UK from Cornwall to Glasgow. Working across Aeronautics, Missiles & Fire Control, Rotary and Mission Systems and Space (including partnerships in global communications, weather forecasting, space exploration and national security).
I met some of their staff recently at the recent UKSEDS Student Space Conference, including a recent astrophysics graduate. Their space division builds the satellites and spacecraft that do amazing things in space for government and commercial customers e.g. Lockheed Martin-built satellites give earlier warning of severe weather, connect troops on the battlefield, and deliver GPS directions to a billion people worldwide.
They recruit physics and astronomy students and graduates for summer internships and graduate positions. LM UK has a graduate programme and their are opportunities globally too
Maxwell’s Angels came 4th in the grand final in London!
Over 300 teams UK-wide took part in this highly competitive challenge, the majority from university business schools. The School of Physics & Astronomy got three teams to the Edinburgh semi-final (one winning best presentation) and this team (mentored by Vicky Clark of The DataLab) to the London final so did Edinburgh proud. It just shows how good our students are – and how studying physics & astronomy can make you capable of doing more than you might think!
M3 Consulting will be hosting open days next week in Edinburgh and Glasgow. These are targeted at STEM students, including physics & astronomy students and are quite tech specific. They will also be advertising their internship and graduate opportunities.
The Universities Business Challenge Worldwide is the world’s longest established simulation-based competition designed to develop employability and enterprise skills. Supported by the UK and South Africa’s leading universities and graduate employers, over 30,000 students have benefitted from taking part in the UBC Worldwide Challenge since 1998.
Maxwell’s Angels won the semi-final so onto the final in London on the 22nd!
Team Kepler came third and won best presentation on the day
Here’s what Tommaso said:
Even though we didn’t qualify I’m still happy with the semi-final as I wasn’t even expecting to get there. As a theoretical physics student I had no background in business or any related subject (not even in high school) and I feel I have learnt a lot from it.
I am very proud to be supporting all three School of Physics & Astronomy teams who have made it to the IBM UBC semi-final in Edinburgh today. The teams are Maxwell’s Angels led by Sania Lewis, Kepler led by Adam Thomas-Mitchell and Maxwell’s Demons led by Wesley Shao. SOPA teams have done well in this competition so I am wishing them lots of luck. If you want to know more about the IBM UBC, you can find it here.
Semi-final winners! Maxwell’s Angels led by Sania Lewis – Emma Elley, Elizabeth Applequist, Hildegard Metzger, Olivia Ngan
Team Kepler led by Adam Thomas-Mitchell, Brendan Martin, Amilah Choudhury, Rebecca Cassidy and Thomas Stanton
Maxwell’s Demons led by Wesley Shao, Karel Vesely, Clara Edmonds, Tommaso Bruggi, Margot Van Laar
Ewan shows how a degree in Physics can take you in interesting directions.
Ewan Hemingway, Research Engineer, Canon Medical Research Europe
I first studied physics at Edinburgh University for the Computational Physics MPhys degree. I was interested in acoustics at the time and my Masters project looked at numerical modelling of guitar value amplifiers. However, one of the 5th year elective courses that really grabbed my attention was a series on soft matter physics, and this prompted me to pursue PhD opportunities. Following a recommendation, I joined an EPSRC-funded PhD in the Physics department at Durham University. There I worked on various problems in computational fluid dynamics, specifically in the area of active matter (the study of living fluids).
I was also lucky to gain some industrial experience through a consultation / research project with Schlumberger.
After my PhD, I stayed in Durham for two more years as a post-doc, where I focused on modelling flow instabilities in polymer physics.
Most recently, I joined Canon as a research engineer in the Image Analysis group. I have been there for just under a year, but already I have worked on a range of interesting problems, e.g., using deep learning for image segmentation.