I support a number of projects, so this could include checking technical calculations, pulling together a schedule for a refit project, or talking to people around the Submarine Enterprise about how a management process might be improved.
I studied Physics at Manchester University and decided that I wanted to work in applied physics or engineering. I applied to the nucleargraduates scheme in November of my final year, and after a fairly intense assessment process was selected to be Defence streamed in March 2010.
The Ministry of Defence appealed because I wanted a ‘customer view’ of the Submarine Enterprise (which is the name we use to describe the partnership between MOD and its main industrial partners, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Babcock).
I contacted the graduate manager here through a contact in my previous placement and we looked for a placement to fit my requirements and those of the MoD. We settled on this role as it provides a view of the entire Enterprise whilst offering support to projects vital to the continued operation of our submarines.
As a physicist I feel that nuclear
is sadly misrepresented in the media and this fosters a lack of understanding about radiation, risk and all things nuclear. People are intelligent enough to understand these issues and they deserve better reporting so that they can make informed judgements.
As an engineer I see the part the
nuclear industry plays in keeping the lights on and maintaining the peace and security of the UK. This requires solving some of the most difficult technical challenges in the world: dealing responsibly with the decommissioning legacy left to us, building ever safer and more efficient power stations, designing nuclear submarines more complex than a space rocket.
This industry is full of hard-working people who know their stuff, and it needs a new generation to take on their huge responsibility and move the industry forward to improve safety, security and efficiency.
Defence and the need for it are complex issues, and by their nature not all the information is available to us as individuals to make a complete assessment.
I enjoy being useful in my job. I like getting to grips with a problem, coming up with a solution and discussing it. I also love the variety of experiences I get. I’m working at MOD now and involved with processes and management, but I will be going to Oldbury power station to do maintenance engineering for my next placement, to get a civil perspective on nuclear technologies.
The best thing about the scheme from a graduate point of view is that, if you have the drive and initiative you can do almost anything, from getting a placement in Vienna with the IAEA to setting up community and school activities.
Earlier this year I ran a Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) activity day in a school getting year seven pupils to think about electricity generation and distribution. There were ping pong balls, it was loud and messy, and great fun. It started as just an idea in my head but the scheme supported that financially and with the graduates’ time.
We’ve been on site visits galore, visited Parliament to speak to MPs, presented to senior people within multinational companies, done the Royal Navy’s sinking ship exercise, even had a go at setting up our own business.
Not that there aren’t some downsides. The industry can be quite old-fashioned at times, and pockets of it seem resistant to change. Getting over that barrier is tough.
Our training is very intense and you feel completely mentally and physically drained after the fortnight long training zones. Moving across the country to a new placement directly after that can be a challenge. You just need to remember to take time for yourself now and then.