What can I do with Physics? Guitar valves to fluids to polymers to image analysis

Ewan shows how a degree in Physics can take you in interesting directions.

engineer canon medical

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.

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Success for Chloe: Ogden Trust Outstanding Intern Award AND IOP Teach Physics Scholarship!

chloe Ogden trust teaching internship

Chloe was recognised as one of the Ogden Trust’s Outstanding Teach Physics interns for 2017 and received her award from Professor Arthur Trew, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh. You can find her blogpost here.

In 2017, 55 students were awarded Teach Physics internships at 36 schools in England & Wales. For most, it had only been a few years since they had left school themselves so it was interesting for them to taste school life from the other side of the (interactive) whiteboard!

Interns were asked to write a reflective diary, noting their observations about teaching styles, behaviour management, responses to learning and school administration, recording their own successes, and paying attention to their less successful moments. You can find their diaries, including Chloe’s award-winning one  here

Chloe got in touch in June to say:

I was also successful in applying for the IOP Teach Physics scholarship and in September I will begin teacher training in Science with Physics (PGCE) via Durham SCITT, a programme recommended to me by the staff at Bishop Barrington School, my Ogden Trust placement.

In  terms of advice for other students, the most helpful thing I can suggest is just to say ‘yes’! If an opportunity presents itself don’t let insecurities or worries stand in your way, just go for it. It might just help you figure out what really makes you happy. 

Also, read the emails you get from the university and the Careers Service! That’s how I found the Ogden Trust internship and I can say with no doubt that it’s changed the course of my life (for the better, of course).

Broad advice, but that’s what I wish someone had told me!

Featured employer: MThree Consulting & technology jobs in Scotland

MThree Consulting offer an interesting route into working in tech with supported training.  They say:

We understand that taking those first steps into your career can be daunting. With so many different opportunities and routes into employment in front of you, it’s hard to know how to navigate. Within our Alumni Programme we are currently looking for Graduates who enjoy problem solving and coming up with creative solutions to join our firm.

They use words like “flexibility”, “stepping stone to your future”.  If this sounds like something you want to know more about, find out here:

Alumni By MThree Job Advert

They are currently recruiting for jobs in Glasgow and Bournemouth and they are have an insight networking event in Glasgow on Thursday 14th June. More details here.

You can also read Tim’s blogpost to find out what it’s like for a physics graduate with MThree

 

From Physics grad to EY consultant

Huge thanks to Gemma King, physics graduate, for this insightful post on how she uses the skills gained from her degree and extra-curricular activity in her current role.

Despite loving studying Physics at University I determined fairly early on I wasn’t destined for a career in academia.  During my degree I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study Technology and Innovation Management, and it was this class that attracted me to business and the opportunities to transfer my scientific skills to this setting.  Engaging with my University’s Careers Service, I attended presentations run by professional services organisations and industry focussed companies to gain an understanding of the potential roles I would be suited to.

Consulting really stood out to me as a career route due to the need for a diverse skill-set and the emphasis on continuous learning, whilst enthusiastic presentations from EY attracted me to the company, coupled with its focus on people and development.  I was therefore delighted to join EY as a Performance Improvement Consultant in March 2017.

Whilst in my day-to-day role I’m not applying my technical Physics knowledge, I do rely on a number of the skills that I developed in my degree: a methodical approach to data, being able to systematically analyse that data and draw key conclusions, as well as the ability to succinctly convey these results to the wider team.

Positively, I’ve also been able to draw on the skills I developed through extra-curricular activities.  Serving as a Class Representative and President of the Grad Ball Committee gave me a great opportunity to work as part of diverse teams allowing me to develop my communication skills as well reinforcing managing tasks whilst working toward a common goal.

Gaining professional experience was also a valuable learning opportunity.  Between my penultimate and final year of University I undertook an internship in banking which allowed me to consider where I would like to focus my professional career.

Studying Physics has allowed me develop numerous transferable skills that have strongly supported me so far in my professional career.  Reflecting back on my own final years at University, I believe the most valuable advice I received that I would pass on is to engage with individuals working in the field you’re interested in, seek out opportunities to learn more and broaden your skill-set, and definitely do not see your Physics degree as a limitation to success in business.

From Astrophysics to Data Science at First Derivatives – Edinburgh grad profile

Henry Noonan

Thanks to Henry Noonan, an Edinburgh astrophysics graduate, for this great profile

I recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh in July with a degree in Astrophysics. Following the completion of my time at university I began my professional career at First Derivatives. First Derivatives (FD) is a consulting firm based in Northern Ireland specializing in their high speed database technology, kdb+. This technology is used in a number of different fields including finance, pharma, F1 racing and even the space industry.

However in my opinion, the most appealing part of working for FD is the ability to travel around the world and work on these interesting projects. Almost all of the Data Scientists I entered the company with back in August have been deployed around the U.K. and the world (including New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong).

After joining in August, I was sent to New York in September to start on a surveillance project with a hedge fund. I am in a technical role, which for the moment involves testing a wide variety of the back-end code the team has developed. This project has not only helped develop my technical skills but has introduced me to the financial world, specifically to that of U.S. equities and options markets. Working at FD is a great opportunity to get into and experience the financial world, even if you did not study any finance at university.

How physics helps

Studying physics prepared me well with what I have faced in the professional world so far. Specifically, the coding modules (like computer modelling) and statistical analysis courses I took at the UoE helped me with the coding that I am doing on the job. Completing my senior honours dissertation (amongst other projects) helped show me how to balance time in a long-term project as well as deliver a professional result, all while effectively communicating with my supervisor. Communication is a big part of working with FD; you are expected to be able to interact in a professional setting with clients (it is not just sitting at an isolated desk coding!). This balance of a technical environment mixed in with face-to-face interaction is something I was looking for when I was searching for a job after university. FD has certainly delivered with regards to this.

Application process

In terms of applying to First Derivatives, the application process was quite easy, easier than other jobs I applied to. I found FD through the UoE’s career services website and applied online. I had three interviews: a phone call, a skype call and finally a technical “shared screen” interview on skype where I had to demonstrate some basic coding abilities in a windows command prompt terminal. Following these three interviews I received an offer.

Advice to UoE students

Start early. I started my job search back in October of my final year and I am so happy that I did it then. Many of my friends waited until the summer of graduation and regret waiting so long. Additionally, a lot of the grad-scheme applications close by January so starting on the job applications early is highly beneficial. I know there is a lot of work in the final year of the degree; finding a good balance between university work and the applications is important. My last piece of advice is to understand what role you are applying to. What I mean by this is know what the job entails before you apply for it, especially if you get invited for an interview. All in all I would say that it may seem daunting applying for jobs but know that there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to flourish in.”

First Derivatives are currently recruiting for graduate data science roles & other roles .  Closing date 30 November