Physics degrees and the Physics of trees

TreeHug

Hi, I’m Sam Henderson. I graduated with an MPhys from the University of Edinburgh about six months ago. In this career orientated post, I’m going to let you know about my EngD. Importantly, I’ll let you know how I got the job, as well as what I see as the pros and cons.

So, I graduated, hoorah. Like many people, I didn’t manage (nor did I want to) jump straight into a graduate scheme or PhD. As a reaction to five years I had spent hunched over a desk solving differential equations, I initially spent just looked for jobs that would get me outside. After a few discussions, I settled on criterion for the jobs I would look for.

Primarily, I wanted sensible hours. I know who I am, and there are too many books, films, games, mountains, valleys and people to read, see, play, explore and meet working entrepreneurial hours. Additionally, I didn’t want to spend the next few years of my life in front of a screen. So, I applied, and applied and applied and… nothing, until I saw a position in Forest Research (Forestry Commission’s research division) on the civil service jobs website.

I applied for it even though I wasn’t confident I met the criteria (I was right, I didn’t get the job or even an interview). However, my application was seen, spotted by the person who would become my boss. A few days later, I got an invitation to come to an interview, which turned into an offer, which turned into my job.

My EngD is a collaboration between the University of Surrey and Forest Research (the research division of the Forestry Commission). For those who don’t know, an EngD is a doctorate, but one where you primarily work in industry. This means that you get an amazing qualification, experience working for an employer, and, you get generally get paid more (roughly £18-24K tax free).

For those interested, in my project, I’m studying if and how changing water conditions can cause cracking inside living trees. To do this I’m using a combined experimental and computational approach. Experimentally, I’m using a custom-built MRI machine to look at the water distribution inside living trees. I’ll use the data from experiments to help me develop a computer model of the tree cells, which will incorporate realistic fluid dynamics.

I’ll admit I have had to make some compromises. Truthfully, a large amount of my work is desk-bound, and I have had some long days writing reports for deadlines.

On the other hand, I get to work in a scenic location on a project I care about, I get to cycle to work, I get to grow/perform experiments on real trees, and I generally have a regular 38 hour working week.

Something that is important to remember about EngDs, is that each project, and each company is different. Do your research, and, if you have the luxury, think about what is important to you.

My experience of reading a stranger’s words on the internet has been that I can only take one point away. If you feel the same, take with you the comforting fact that with some time and planning, and a bit of work, physics can probably get you where you want to go.

I’m totally happy to be contacted by email, if anyone wants any advice from a student who was in a similar place to them.  Sam Henderson j.s.henderson@surrey.ac.uk

Big win for the School of Physics – 3rd place out of 300 UK university teams

IBM UBC final all 5The IBM Universities Business Challenge (UBC) Worldwide is the world’s longest established undergraduate simulation-based competition designed to develop employability and enterprise skills and starts with 300 teams across the UK.

Facilitated by Susan Bird (Careers Consultant, School of Physics & Astronomy), the School submitted two teams, one team making the semi-final in Edinburgh. After a keynote introduction from Shelagh Green, (Director, Careers Service), the teams did a series of intensive, timed business simulations culminating in a 60 second innovation pitch.

The Physics undergraduate team – students Imran Marwat (team leader), Fidel Elie, Ziyi Zhang, Adamos Spanashis and Brandon Christman – not only won 2nd place at the semi-final – but also won Best Business Idea on the day, beating 19 teams from other UK universities.

The School funded the team’s travel & accommodation expenses to the London final, the team was mentored by Mike Ross from Standard Life Investments & supported by the Careers Service – a good example of how we work with Schools & industry partners to support the employability and professional development of our science students.

The UoE team of physicists went on to win third place in the final gaining a prize of £250 and beating a number of business teams from universities across the UK.  A real coup for the School of Physics & the University of Edinburgh.

Here’s how team member Ziyi Zhang reflected on the Challenge:

“Thank you for being at the competition and supporting us throughout this experience. I realized studying physics not only made us “book smart” but also taught us critical and logical thinking which can be applied beyond academics.

Combined with creativity and hard work, physicists can be successful in any field of our interest. We should all branch out to areas outside of our textbook, and explore our hidden potential.”

Free course to help you manage your digital presence

The University is launching a new free digital footprint MOOC (massive online open course) which will begin on 3rd April and is now open for registration.  The MOOC has been developed with staff across the University including the Careers Service. The MOOC  features a video of my colleague Rebecca Valentine discussing how learners can create an effective online presence. They also have a blog

Find out more  and register to take part

Featured employer: M Squared & opportunities in photonics & quantum technology

Meet award-winning photonics technology company M Squared at this exclusive careers event at its Glasgow headquarters on Thursday 30 March 2017, 5–8 pm.

Working with a company such as M Squared presents a unique opportunity to draw upon your knowledge as a scientist.

  • Collaborate with world-leading researchers as a scientific specialist, create world-class laser systems with its manufacturing team, or develop new applications within M Squared’s Innovation Group.
  • Learn about the advances the company is making in quantum technology, biophotonics and chemical sensing.
  • Develop a broader understanding of what it’s like working with one of the UK’s most innovative companies

This event is being held at M Squared’s headquarters in Glasgow: M Squared, Venture Building, 1 Kelvin Campus, West of Scotland Science Park, Glasgow G20 0SP.//

This event is free to attend.  Book Now https://www.iopconferences.org/iop/1082/home

HIGHLIGHTS*

  • Take a tour of M Squared’s headquarters in Glasgow
  • Talk one-to-one with M Squared staff
  • Gain insight into the wealth of career opportunities available with the company worldwide
  • Discover the skills you’ll need to include on your application form/CV
  • Get practical advice and information to help you with interviews or assessment days

*ABOUT M SQUARED*

Recognised as one of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies, M Squared is a leading developer of photonics and quantum technology.

The company designs and manufactures advanced laser platforms that underpin the groundbreaking work being carried out by Nobel Prize-winning scientists, the world’s leading universities and innovative businesses. Its pioneering R&D work is also making a direct impact in sectors as diverse as healthcare, food and drink, security and defence, with new applications aimed at diagnosing Alzheimer’s, searching for cures for cancer and detecting chemical weapons.

M Squared’s contribution to scientific discovery has been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and the Institute of Physics Innovation Award. M Squared’s excellence in innovation has also been recognised by Deloitte Technology Fast 50, The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and Export Track 100, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards (Innovation) and the Amazon Growing Business Awards (Innovation).

Founded in Glasgow, M Squared has offices throughout the UK, Europe and the USA, serving its international customer base. The company’s talented team includes more than 85 scientists, engineers and software developers as well as commercial experts; over 90% of its staff are educated to degree level or above.

Success for UoE Undergrad Physics team

IBM UBC Physics team cropped

The IBM Universities Business Challenge (UBC) Worldwide is the world’s longest established and leading undergraduate simulation-based competition designed to develop employability and enterprise skills. Supported by the UK’s leading universities and graduate employers, over 25,000 students have benefited from taking part in the UBC Worldwide Challenge since 1998.

Brokered by the Careers Service and facilitated by Susan Bird, link Careers Consultant for the School of Physics, the School submitted two teams, one team making it through to the IBM UBC semi-final in Edinburgh on 3rd March.  After a keynote introduction from Shelagh Green, Director of the Careers Service, the teams did a series of intensive, timed business simulations culminating in a 60 second innovation pitch.

I am proud to announce huge congratulations to the Physics team – students Imran Marwat, Fidel Elie, Ziyi Zhang, Adamos Spanashis and Brandon Christman – who not only won 2nd place at the semi-final – and a guaranteed place in the final in London on March 24th – but also won Best Business Idea on the day – beating 19 other teams from other UK universities.  The Physics team were also the only team on time with their 60 second pitch.

In recognition of the achievement, the School is funding the team’s travel and accommodation expenses to the final in London. The team is being mentored by Mike Ross from Standard Life Investments and supported by Susan Bird, the link Careers Consultant for the School of Physics – a good example of how the Careers Service works with Schools & industry partners to support the employability and professional development of our science students.

Here’s how team member Ziyi Zhang reflected on the Challenge:

 “Thank you for being at the competition and supporting us throughout this experience. I realized studying physics not only made us “book smart” but also taught us critical and logical thinking which can be applied beyond academics. Combined with creativity and hard work, physicists can be successful in any field of our interest. I have met some of the most talented people in physics, and we should all branch out to areas outside of our textbook, and explore our hidden potential.”

We wish them luck for the final in London!

http://www.ubcworldwide.com/

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

Just send that email

Some good advice on making direct approaches to employers (and academic supervisors?) from Bella in our Information Team

The Careers Service Blog

Making a speculative application isn’t as hard as you may think, says Isabella Hughes, Careers Information Adviser

Towards the end of my second year I thought it was a good idea to start thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation. With three months of summer ahead of me I wanted to fill it with useful experiences to help me think about where I saw myself working. An area I’d often considered was working in museums. As an anthropology student I was curious to see what possibilities lay in museums in the anthropological field. After a quick Google search I found that Cambridge had an anthropology museum. I identified contacts from its website and got in touch with the collections manager of anthropology and asked whether they had any opportunities for work experience during the summer months.

Making a speculative application can sound intimidating but it is simply a…

View original post 317 more words

Selling your experience – The Edinburgh Award

Are you involved in MathsBuddies, Physics Pals, volunteering or doing any part-time work/planning summer work? If so, find out how doing an Edinburgh Award alongside can enhance your experience.

The Careers Service Blog

 

Lizzie Mortimer explains how the Award helps you add value to your summer work experience or volunteering

The summer vacation presents myriad opportunities to students; relax after the pressures of a busy academic year, catch up with friends and family, go on holiday, lie in….relax.

But, this is a Careers Service blog, so of course I’m going to talk about work. It probably isn’t news to anyone that the months between one academic year to the next are a gift to the student who has one eye to the future and wants to get some work experience. And I hope that is a lot of you.

Work experience is pretty amorphous; we could be talking about a summer job in your local cafe, a volunteering opportunity anywhere in the world, an internship, and more. All of these things develop you as an individual and as a professional. By getting…

View original post 220 more words

Volunteering opportunities with the Royal Meteorological Society

The Scottish Centre of the Royal Meteorological Society meets in the Geography Building on Drummond St once a month during the autumn & winter, with a guest lecture each time. They need volunteer ‘Student Ambassadors’ to help with maintaining the branches’ website and to live tweet during lectures as well as potential for more if you are interested.

Volunteering as a Student Ambassador helps promote meteorology as a science, profession and interest, while improving your employability skills and boosting your CV.

The post is totally flexible around your academic studies and you will  get free Student Membership with the Royal Meteorological Society.

They ask that you commit around 2-3 hours each month. Closing date 1 May.

Please see attached for the RMetS Student Ambassador leaflet, which explains more about the Ambassador role and how to apply.

rmets-student-ambassador-guide-scotland