CERN @ KB: grad roles & work experience offers

CERN will be on campus on 4th October – full details and signup will be on MyCareerHub

CERN offers tremendous opportunities for the right students to develop their skills and understanding through some of the most exciting and cutting edge projects in engineering, computing and physics.

Research STFC

Come along to this event to get an insight into engineering at CERN, with a talk from a senior CERN engineer on the experiments, facilities & what their work involves. This will be followed by a Q&A for which he will be joined by a representative of the CERN HR Talent Acquisition team who will introduce all opportunities at CERN.

CERN’s Summer Student Scheme and Technical Studentships are being advertised now on the Science & Technology Facilities Council site. Find out more on the STFC website.

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SpaceX & HypED in Los Angeles

Great blog post from physics students Enrique Cervero and Hamish Geddes – members of the Edinburgh University Hyperloop Team (HypED).

Want to know more about the space sector? Check out the Careers Service resource: Your Future in the Space industry

Hyperloop 1

The team working on the pod at the Innspace in Sanderson Building

“We are just back from our trip to California for the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, it’s been an amazing experience. We would once again like to thank the School of Physics for the support they gave us for our trip.

The Edinburgh University Hyperloop Team (HypED) has been working for over ten months to design and build an Hyperloop prototype, a method of levitating transportation propelled along a vacuum tube. Much of our summer was spent at the mechanical lab in Kings Building drawing sketches, tightening bolts and drilling holes with the ultimate purpose of bringing our Hyperloop Pod, Poddy McPodface, to life.

All this work was to culminate at the end of August in Los Angeles, where HypED was invited to by SpaceX to participate in the finals of one of the most prestigious engineering competitions in the world: The Hyperloop Pod Competition II. A total of 25 teams from all over the world were invited to unveil and race their prototypes at the space company’s headquarters, HypED being the only British team and one of four European teams.

The team arrived to LA about a week before the competition. We brought our prototype to a local workshop in Los Angeles, Urban Workshop, where we spent most of the pre-competition days giving the final touches to our design.

Hyperloop 2

The team working on the hydraulics at the workshop in LA

Our main worry before the competition was that we would not finish our pod in time, that there would be something, some flaw or eventuality, that we had not planned for and that would ultimately prevent us from competing at SpaceX. We all worked hard either way, trying to get everything done perfectly to meet SpaceX’s requirements.

When the pod was done, we drove it to SpaceX in Hawthorne, LA, where it was to be tested for safety, systems and functionality before the competition. Out of the 25 teams that got invited to the competition, only 3 would be allowed to test their pod and race it in the vacuum tube. HypED’s prototype was unfortunately not one of the 3 chosen by SpaceX. However, our team was given clearance to test our pod at a speed of 40m/s (144km/h) in the vacuum track, which would have made it one of the fastest Hyperloop Pods ever tested.

Over the entire year and competition, I have learned that real world applications of engineering are never simple and require a level head and persistence to complete: there must be a lot of thought put into a design, many drafts, scraps and failures need to be done before arriving at the finalised product.

I have also acquired a lot of technical experience, how to use industrial machinery, solve real world mechanical problems and work as a team to bring our ideas to life.

The outcome of the competition was also an imperative learning experience for the team which we will definitely use to our advantage in next year’s competition. We will take from our design flaws and mistakes and remove them in our next design, use the advice and knowledge given to us by Tesla and SpaceX engineers, and improve on our design’s advantages.

Hyperloop 3

The team with our completed pod next to SpaceX’s vacuum Hyperloop test track

From CGI to cleft palates, mapping disease to space science & bedbugs!

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STFC is one of seven publicly funded UK Research Councils. With a combination of expertise, facilities and resources, they drive knowledge and innovation in the UK and throughout the world, shaping societies, strengthening economies, building industries and transforming lives. Based across six key sites nationwide, with collaborations around the globe, their teams are a mix of scientists, engineers, technology specialists and support professionals (all 2000 of them) –  harnessing what they know to meet real-world requirements.

Their success stories give a good flavour of what they do – and what you could be doing with them.

Find out more about careers with STFC on their website. They recruit via MyCareerHub too so start following them on MyCareerHub and on LinkedIn to get updates on opportunities.

They are currently focussing on inspiring careers for women in their organisation and have won awards for addressing  gender inequality.

European Space Agency: my summer internship experience

Tara is a final year student here at Edinburgh. She wrote her first blogpost about applying to the European Space Agency (ESA). Here is her second blogpost where she talks about what she did and what she learnt about the job, the ESA, the people – and herself.

“With my traineeship at ESA slowly coming to an end, it’s time to look back at the many memorable experiences made and interesting people I met. In the 2 months that I stayed in Darmstadt, a 20 min train ride from Frankfurt, I learnt about the professionalism in the agency and how important good communication between colleagues is. I learnt what it’s like to work independently besides one of the best mission analysts in the world and also receive constructive criticism once in a while.

My job at ESA was to improve an orbit determination software called DITAN, which was used for low-thrust trajectories such as the mission BepiColombo to Mercury in 2018.

tara-esa-satellite

Artist’s impression of BepiColombo in front of Mercury. Credit: ESA – P. Carril

Naturally as an Astrophysics student I was afraid that my programming wasn’t up to scratch but luckily I could pick up the most common routines  fairly quickly (so many nested if loops!). With the help of my very patient supervisor I learnt how to make code more elegant and use as little of it as possible. When I wasn’t debugging the Fortran 5000-plus-liner (yes, in the space sector everything gets recycled, including ancient programs from the 70s) tea breaks would take up second priority, as many staff would joke. The canteen was the meeting place of different sections, ages and nationalities.

Besides work, other topics of interest such as politics (Brexit more than once) and even personal bests at the last triathlon as part of ESA’s sports clubs were discussed. Similar to all the societies and clubs Edinburgh University offers, ESA has a smaller range of activities to make different nationalities feel at home. During one of the after-work wakeboarding events I noticed once again that ESA really supports a good working atmosphere and also emphasises positive and open thinking whilst not forgetting to be critical as well.

Sharing an office with 4 trainees and contractors from Hungary, Belgium and Germany also gave me an insight into their work, although some of their French conversations as one of ESA’s working languages surpassed my 6-weeks taster course level. Nevertheless, on multiple occasions we helped each other with technical issues or generally exchanged ideas and experiences. It was astounding that even though they had come from totally different walks of life their technical knowledge and the art of communicating this in an easily comprehendible way was exceptional. Not only in my department did I notice the conscientious and composed way in which trainees and staff would listen and respond.

As most of the staff are international, ESA hosts intercultural events such as the annual fun run, running 5 or 10 km with or without a costume as well as a BBQ, which is themed after a different country every year. This year they chose the UK and Northern Ireland, which the organisers claimed to have chosen before the Brexit campaign started (or they were testing all the British staff’s humour). Costumes ranged from business men, to green leprechauns or simply tea bags and was, besides the roasting temperatures that day, an all-round fun activity. The BBQ didn’t disappoint either and offered all sorts of traditional cuisine, alcoholic beverages such as Pimm’s and a performance by Scottish country dancers and a bagpipe player. And there was me in Germany, thinking I could escape the ever-present bagpipe-melodies known from Edinburgh.

tara-esa-group

Credit : ESA – Stefano de Padova

Another insightful event was the informal ‘space dinner’ with guest speaker Rolf Densing, director of operations at ESA, who spoke about the future in space and invited all guests to have a chat with him during the German dinner. Surprisingly his predecessor and German Astronaut Thomas Reiter made an appearance too. Although I missed my chance to speak to him, I overheard a story of him at the dinner table when he was sipping his morning coffee and let it drop in mid air still thinking he was in space! These little stories besides many others were exchanged during the meal and made the company even more enjoyable.

At the establishment I work at, the European Space Operations Centre, Security takes an important role since million-euro heavy satellites are operated from here. This meant I was obliged to wear a badge with my name and picture at all times and was checked every morning by the international security guards, who I’m sure knew everyone’s nationality off by heart and greeted them with “Guten Morgen”, “Buongiorno”, etc. Equally the staff returned the good deed with respect and a bright smile.

Possibly whoever is reading this thinks I’m exaggerating my appraisal for ESA, but with a 100% success rate for all its launched missions, its expertise is world leading and I couldn’t have imagined a better placement with such a lively and proactive vibe to it.

If you can, I would always recommend gaining some work experience in the summer, since it not only gives you a head start in job applications but also teaches you a lot about if the job is right for you in the first place. That said, I’m considering a career in the space sector more than ever before and could imagine working as a trainee for ESA or in the space industry after graduating. Equipped with my new-found motivation to pursue this goal I’m curious which challenges await when I return to Edinburgh!”

Jobs in space

Great post from my colleague Matt Vickers about jobs in space. If you are keen to know more about Optics in Space, the June issue of Physics World has a good supplement on Optics & Photonics. Physics World has a series of supplements focussing on different areas of physics. They introduce you to the main players, academic and industry, often working in partnership in these areas. The articles and adverts give you a good idea who is working in these fields so great for making speculative applications.

The Careers Service Blog

Many thanks to my colleague Matt Vickers for this blog post which gives an overview of jobs in the space sector and details of an event taking place next week – Rebecca

From the 11th-17th July 2016 the famous Farnborough International Airshow takes place in Hampshire, England.  This biennial event (it alternates each year with the Paris Airshow) combines both a public event and trade show – both on a huge scale.  According to organisers, the 2014 Farnborough show attracted orders and commitments worth US $204 bn.

Focused on the aerospace sector and its supply chain, the trade show includes significant presence from companies and organisations involved in the global space industry.  The show’s trade website includes pages specifically covering the space industry, and shows the infographic below.  If this gets you excited about jobs in space and you want to find out more about the organisations behind the numbers, use the searchable exhibitor list to…

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European Space Agency internship – UoE student success

Tara Bruendl is a 4th MPhysics student here at UoE who, despite failing first time round, has now successfully gained a placement this summer at the European Space Agency (ESA).  Over the summer she will be a guest blogger, telling you about her experience. Her first post is all about how she got the placement.

How did I find out about it?

Since developing an interest for space my dream to work for the European Space Agency (ESA) was created. After being rejected for an internship 2 years ago, I decided not to be disheartened and successfully applied to work placements at other space-related institution, namely the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research in 2014 and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in 2015.

Learning from the specialists in the field of solar system research equipped me with better analytical and practical skills as well as broadened my understanding of the research. The gained experience was very useful when being invited by my then supervisor from DLR for a Space Situational Awareness conference at one of ESA’s nine establishments.

By engaging in conversation with industry partners as well as an ESA employee and expressing a genuine interest in their field of expertise, it was possible to exchange contact details, which were the first stepping stone to securing the internship.

What did I have to consider when applying?

After an extensive email exchange discussing my experience and the proposed project, a formal application needed to be submitted to the HR department  which needed approval. Besides the usual formalities such as a detailed CV and a cover letter, the application asked for past experience and projects as well as my future intentions for undertaking a placement at ESA.

Especially important at this point was to show the relevance of the other work placements to this summer’s internship and emphasise how I completed given tasks and can apply the learned skills to their organisation. Working for the biggest and most influential space agency in Europe is an honour and I am very curious and excited for this journey to start.

Find out more about the European Space Agency

Find out more about the  ESA Academy Gravity-Related Research Summer School. Apply now – closing date 2 May 2016

Space scientist and science communicator

You may recognise Maggie Aderin-Pocock as she is a familiar face and voice on television news and science broadcasts. Maggie’s first role was with the Ministry of Defence, combining knowledge from her first degree in physics with her doctorate in mechanical engineering. She returned to academia to work on building an instrument to bolt on to the Gemini telescope. She is currently working in both industry and academia as a space scientist and science communicator.

 

Opportunities for physicists – labour market news

Good Insider News report highlighting some employers who target physicists. These include:

  • Elekta Ltd (radiotherapeutic clinical products)
  • Astrium Ltd – – now Airbus Defence and Space  (satellite technology, space transport )
  • EDF Energy (energy-renewable, nuclear, gas, coal)
  • Physics World (scientific publishing)
  • Met Eireann (weather forecasting)
  • Selex Galileo (defence systems)
  • CCFE (fusion energy R&D)
  • De La Rue (currencies, passports, driving licences,trying to beat counterfeiters through holography, crystals, printed electronics.)
  • Deloitte (financial services)
  • Rebellion (computer gaming)

De La Rue said they “prefer physics to maths because, physics grads are MORE then numerate, they can manipulate numbers in ANY setting” and that “approx 75% of vacation students get taken on at graduate level” – so that shows the benefits of getting known at undergraduate level.

Find out more about about what they do and how you can get summer placements and graduate vacancies here