Placement Case Studies

The Value of Work Experience

SEPnet believes there’s no better way for students to gain new skills and valuable insight into the world of work than through a placement. We work with a wide range of employers offering placements in variety of physics-related areas and sectors including aerospace, nuclear energy, information technology, science communication, engineering and research. Students have the opportunity to carry out projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), multinational companies or research institutions.

A number of our students who have had SEPnet placements have been offered graduate jobs with their placement employers and with other graduate employers. All have found the experience invaluable in discovering what they do (and don’t) want to specialise in after graduation.

Read about some of our students’ experiences below…

Student: Holly Stemp, University of Surrey

Host: National Physical Laboratory

Role: Evaluation of non-uniqueness associated with Standard Platinum Resistance Thermometers used to realise the International Temperature Scale in 1990.

Can you describe a typical working day on your placement?

The first half of the placement was spent conducting measurements in the lab where I measured the resistance ratios of Standard Platinum Resistance Thermometers in temperature controlled oil baths, liquid nitrogen and fixed point cells, over a range of 196°C to 232°C.  I also profiled the oil baths to  establish the temperature gradients present within the volume of oil we were measuring.  Based on these measurements I analysed and plotted the data in Excel.  The    results will hopefully form the basis of a publication on Type 1 and Type 3 non-uniqueness.

 How do you think this internship has benefited you for the future?

This placement has been invaluable.  I have acquired new skills, extended my knowledge and experienced what it’s like to work in a research environment. This has confirmed my desire to work in research in the future and shown me the   variety of opportunities available.  It has been a truly fascinating and inspiring experience.

 What skills and knowledge have you learnt during the placement?

I have learnt a great deal about temperature realisation and calibration and developed a range of skills;  from practical lab skills and problem solving to data analysis techniques.  Everyone I’ve met at NPL has been very happy to share their research, so I’ve learnt a lot about metrology/traceability of measurement in general and its importance in every aspect of our lives.

 What advice would you give to an undergraduate student who might be interested in seeking a placement?

I would highly recommend the SEPnet placement scheme to any undergraduate who is interested in expanding their skill set and experiencing the real world    implications of what they are taught in lectures.  Don’t be put off applying if you don’t have a lot of direct knowledge about the placement subject area as plenty of help and support is provided throughout the placement.  The scheme is a great opportunity to extend your knowledge of a given area.

 Employer perspective:

Holly has worked above and beyond what we expected and has completed a substantial amount of work during her placement.  Her dedication and critical thinking has resulted in the collection of a high quality data set and her findings will influence changes we are making to the way measurement uncertainty is evaluated at the highest level.  We would not have been able to undertake this work without the  SEPnet scheme. 

Read more about our students’ placement experiences:

Rowan Curtis – Optoelectronics Research Centre

 Rowan Curtis, University of Surrey

Placement: Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton

Role: Summer Placement Student

“Placements are the best way to work out what you want (or don’t want) to do when you graduate.”

Read More

Sheona Day – Gill R&D

Student: Sheona Day, University of Southampton

Placement: Gill R&D

Role: Student Research Physicist

“The placement is a great opportunity to experience working in a research and development company.”

Read More

Christopher Dowden – TalUPP

Student: Christopher Dowden, Queen Mary University of London

Placement: TalUPP

Role: Data Scientist

“This internship has greatly benefited me as it has accelerated my programming skills to the point where I feel I can pursue other work in this field, using a variety of coding languages …”

 Valeria George – E2E Services Limited

Student: Valeria George, University of Hertfordshire

Placement: E2E Services Limited

Role: Software Developer 

“My internship has really sparked an interest in software engineering, so pursuing a career in this sector is something I am definitely considering after graduation.”

Read More

Jacob Maresca – FAAM

Student: Jacob Maresca, University of Sussex

Placement: FAAM (Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements)

Role: Designing a turbulence probe

“I have learned new skills and developed existing ones. I have gained work- place experience and  a better idea of the types of jobs that are out there.”

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Grace Maxted – Tesla Engineering Ltd

Student: Grace Maxted, University of Kent
Placement: Tesla Engineering Ltd

Role: Magnet Division Project Engineer Intern


“I’ve got a lot of experience now both with industry and in engineering, and I’ve also got a more balanced view of working life.”

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Gerry McGinty – Rezatec Ltd

Student: Gerry McGinty, The Open University

Placement: Rezatec Ltd

Role: Applied Earth Observation (EO) Analyst

“I gained insight into branches of science directly and tangentially related to my  degree, as well as a greater sense of the career opportunities that are out there.”

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Lorna Nolan – MRC Harwell Institute

Student: Lorna Nolan, University of Southampton

Placement: MRC Harwell Institute

Role: Investigating machine learning approaches to counting adipocyte cells

“I have gained so much experience into how real world research works.”

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Rebecca Watkins – Hilger Crystals

Student: Rebecca Watkins, University of Surrey

Placement: Hilger Crystals

Role: Updating and integrating product test data from several sources

“The project required me to be self-motivated, which I thoroughly enjoyed… I improved my ability to communicate with different  members of staff while trying to create a user-friendly database.”

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Sylvain Wear – UK Atomic Energy Authority

Student: Sylvain Wear, University of Portsmouth

Placement: UK Atomic Energy Authority

Role: Camera Technician

“I believe this placement has prepared me for a work environment in the field of professional scientific research”.

Read More