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Science and Engineering have the power to change the world we live in!

Introduction

My name is Marcello and I earned my PhD in particle physics at the University of Manchester, in 2013. Since then, I have been working as a researcher for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). 

STFC is a UK government body that carries out civil research in science and engineering, and funds UK research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.

I work in the technology department and I am involved in projects dealing with the building of instrumentation for experiments in nuclear physics. This type of instrumentation is not available commercially because it has very particular requirements. Hence, STFC employs dedicated teams of physicists and engineers to build this type of equipment. And I am one of them!

My experience.

I decided to continue my education after the age of 18 and so enrolled in a bachelor’s degree of physics at the University of Manchester. This decision opened up many opportunities in my life.

I gained an objective view of natural phenomena and increased my employability.

Science and engineering have the power to change the world we live in. These subjects produce the most amazing technology and fuel the economy of many countries. For this reason, the analytical thinking of a physicist is highly valued in the job market.

As a student, I did not always find physics easy to understand and did not like all of its different branches equally. My favorite topic is the interaction of radiation with matter, so I decided to specialize in this area for my masters and PhD.

An education in physics gave me the opportunity to study and work in an environment which is professional, multicultural and at the forefront of human knowledge.

From the neighborhood I grew up in, I found myself involved in international projects investigating important questions about our existence. I spent time in laboratories in other countries to exchange information about my work. During this time, I also made strong friendships and discovered new places.

The knowledge I gained in high-school in mathematics, physics and computer science, has been beneficial to my career.

To summarise, I wanted to include some figures about salaries of researches in the initial and middle stages of their careers:

-  PhD student (22-25 years old): about £12,000 per year. 

-  Post-doc researcher (25-35 years old): from £28,000 to £35,000 per year.

-  Academic staff or senior researcher (35-45 years old): from £35,000 to £45,000.

Salaries will increase even further for managerial positions within Universities or Research Institutes and are generally higher in the private sector.

Further details

Apprenticeships are really good opportunities to boost your experience in science and engineering and I’ve found that it is easier to find apprenticeships in engineering than in science. Engineering or IT apprenticeships are valuable opportunities for aspiring scientists.

https://www.stfc.ac.uk/1485.aspx

Some organizations that help people to enter top Universities.

http://www.socialmobility.org.uk/

Get involved and become a STEM Ambassador.

http://www.stemnet.org.uk/


 

From vascular physiology to student recruitment

by YPU Admin on February 14, 2014, Comments. Tags: careers, PhD, Research, and science

As part of our Thinking Careers section, we explore the non-academic career options taken by those who have completed their PhDs. In this entry, Fiona Lynch discusses how she went from researching vascular physiology to working in student recruitment at the University of Manchester.

 

Introduction

My name is Fiona Lynch and my current role is Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Coordinator in the University of Manchester.  I have always been interested in science and studied Biochemistry in University College Galway, Ireland.  Following this I moved to Dublin and did a PhD in vascular physiology in University College Dublin.  After this I moved to the UK to start my first academic job or post-doctoral job in the University of Manchester.  Originally I was supposed to stay for a three year contract but fast forward 14 years and I am still happily in Manchester, married with three young children.  

 

Current job

I work in the Directorate for Student Experience in the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Team.  My job involves organising presentations and tours for schools who wish to visit the campus and get a taste for University life, organising the university open day and supporting the widening participation and other recruitment activities.  The job has a lot of variety and I am constantly learning new skills and drawing on transferrable skills I used when I was a researcher. 

 

 

My research

My first taste of serious research was during my PhD in Dublin where is studied how our pulmonary arteries behave to changes in carbon dioxide and pH levels as they would if challenged by various  pulmonary disease.  This interest in vascular physiology and a drive to broaden my horizons led me to the University of Manchester to start a three year post-doctoral research position to try and understand the behaviour of the body’s smallest arteries, the resistance arteries, to changes in blood pressure.  I studied human coronary arteries using pressure myography.  This allowed me to replicate very closely the environment these arteries would be exposed to in the human heart.  I was fortunate to be offered further contracts to continue my research and eventually settled into a project studying how the fat which surrounds our blood vessels affects their behaviour.  One of the highlights of this for me was being allowed to witness open heart surgery.  Others included trips to international conferences and the opportunity to convey my research and findings to peers, not to mention the chance to see parts of the world I wouldn’t normally go to.  Low points included experiments not working after endless hours in the lab (although this is par for the course for a researcher!) and grants being rejected (another normal occurrence in academic research). 

 

Experience

So how do you go from the lab to my present job?  The key message I would give is to develop your transferrable skills.  Crunching stats in Excel and creating presentations for conferences and writing papers are all excellent skills which can be used in many non-academic roles.  While I was a PhD student and Post doc I undertook lots of public engagement activities.  Some just involved going into schools talking about my work and career path, others involved working closely with teachers to develop academic enrichment activities and workshops.  I won funding from The Physiology Society and ran two big outreach events in the Museum of Science and Industry and I became a Widening Participation Fellow.  I also took advantage of all the staff/student development courses on offer and obtained a diploma in management.  When the time came for a career change I knew I wanted to work with schools in some way and continue with outreach work so all of the above helped me secure my current role, which I enjoy immensely.

 

Going Further

To find out more about research and heart disease, click here.

For more information about the world of Physiology, click here.

You can find more information about public engagement activities in the University of Manchester here.

The YPU's previous entry in the Thinking Careers section can be found here.

 

Science and Technology Exhibition for Sixth Form Students

by YPU Admin on September 26, 2013, Comments. Tags: Engineering, science, and technology

Are you interested in Science, Technology and Engineering?

Would you like to meet representatives from some of the biggest companies in the UK?

Then come along to The University of Manchester on Wednesday 23rd October and find out more!

During the event, you will get the opportunity to visit information stands from companies within the technology, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, transport and media sectors.

Companies such as Samsung, JVC, BBC Academy, Network Rail, the NHS, 2Dtech and many more will be at the exhibition.

You will also have the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers on subjects such as ‘Choosing What and Where to Study’, ‘Student Life’ and ‘So you think you know the Sciences?’  Current students and staff from academic schools will be available throughout the event to answer any questions you have about university.

Time: 3pm-6pm

Location: The Great Hall, Sackville Street Building, The North Campus, The University of Manchester

Please register completing a registration survey. If you have any questions, please email schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk.  The registration deadline is Friday 11th October at 5pm.

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

       


 

Minefields of Engineering

by YPU Admin on August 20, 2013, Comments. Tags: Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Engineering, minefields, and science

Introduction

My name is Omar, and I am second year PhD student in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE). I’ve always had an interest in engineering but after finishing my A-Levels back in 2006, I was really struggling to choose one discipline of engineering to pursue. I’ve always enjoyed physics and mathematics which is utilised by all disciplines of engineering in different ways. After lengthy deliberation and discussions I decided to go for electrical and electronic engineering. The fact that EEE is involved in everything we do in modern life was fascinating, not to mention the fast paced development it has been displaying in the last 10 years producing some of the most exciting developments in the last decade or even century.


In Depth

I joined the University of Manchester as an undergraduate and completed a Masters in Engineering (MEng) degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. During my final (fourth) year I was lucky enough to find myself working on an exciting project that was trying to help a charity, Find A Better Way (FABW), develop better tools for detecting landmines in countries affected by wars and previous conflicts. I was then offered a PhD studentship to continue my research upon graduation.


My research

There are currently 110 million active landmines in place that would require around £20 billion and, more importantly, 1,000 years to clear using current clearance technologies. These mines are scattered across more than 65 countries and have been left behind as an enduring legacy of previous conflicts and wars. They continue to kill and maim civilians (particularly children) worldwide, thus the charity was launched with the focus of funding research to develop innovative ideas and technologies to aid the de-mining procedure. 

From left to right: a Candian mine, bullet shell, and a screw

Current demining procedures typically utilise mainly metal detectors to locate mines by interrogating the metal content within a mine. This method displays an imperative weakness as every metallic object needs to be treated as a mine, whether it is a nail, bullet shell, a can or in fact a mine (the picture to the right shows the relative size of a mine, compared to a bullet shell and a screw). In areas of previous conflict this metallic clutter decreases the rate of clearance severely as well as increasing the cost of clearance and risk. Hence, a number of projects have been launched at the University to try and provide the de-miners with more information about the objects detected in an effort to confidently eliminate clutter, speeding up the process and saving cost and lives.


Future Plans

Throughout my study at university I have gained vast knowledge and developed vital skills that will hopefully help me when looking for a job. During my undergraduate and research  degrees I was able to learn about the world of EEE, opening the opportunity to pursue a career in some of the most exciting firms that are involved in technological developments around the world, from Apple to Jaguar to Airbus. Engineering naturally helps to develop an analytical mindset and heightens your attention to detail: values that are sought out by employers in every sector. I have also developed my team working skills, as well as problem solving abilities, through the numerous projects I undertook during my undergraduate degree. So, hopefully, with these recent additions to my skill set, I am looking to pursue a career in consultancy and engineering. The fast paced nature of consultancy and the broad exposure you get for the sector is an attractive aspect; however, a departure from the engineering world still seems like an upsetting prospect so I will also be looking for opportunities within it.  In a way, that is the beauty of engineering; the fact that you can always pursue it as a career path but, if you feel like moving to something different, all other industries are keen to employ you as a result of the unique set of skills it nurtures.


Going Further...

For more information about EEE at the University of Manchester, visit the department's webpages

If you would like to find out more about Find A Better Way (FABW), the projects it funds and the work it does to help communities affected by mines, click here

The Institute of Engineering and Technology will help you discover more about EEE and its career prospects. You can also find out more about study and careers in Engineering through the Brightside Trust's Bright Knowledge pages


 

The Barometer

by YPU Admin on July 22, 2013, Comments. Tags: earth and atmospheric science, podcasts, and science

Introduction

Set up and run by researchers from the University of Manchester, the Barometer podcast aims to inform the listener about the wonders of Earth’s atmosphere and climate. The podcast team is made up of scientists working at the Centre for Atmospheric Science (CAS), who produce regular episodes on a wide range of informative and interesting topics.


The Barometer Podcast team


Whether discussing meteorological phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes, examining public health issues such as air quality and pollution, or light-heartedly debating the origins of weather folklore, each episode aims to enlighten and educate in equal measure.


Highlights

Recorded podcasts

Most podcast episodes lean towards topical, as well as interesting, points of discussion. With the help of several internationally renowned weather experts, the team investigated the destructive power of hurricane Sandy in November 2012, as well as the more recent Oklahoma tornadoes in May of this year.

The more light-hearted features also utilise this approach of informing the listener through well-articulated debate and discussion. For example, in the latest episode, the Barometer team makes a bold forecast for the rest of the summer based upon some ancient weather folklore.


Outreach events

As well as informative podcast episodes, the Barometer team also aims to promote the cutting-edge research being done at the University of Manchester through various outreach activities.

In 2011, as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the podcasters ran a live interactive episode that involved panel discussion and demonstrations in front of an adult studio audience, focusing on the differences between weather and climate.

In 2012, again as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the team designed a set of interactive experiments geared towards school children that illustrated the importance of science in our everyday lives. This work laid the foundation for the National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) in March 2013, when over 850 local school children from years 5-9 visited the University of Manchester and participated in experiments. The Barometer podcast set up an interactive stall, demonstrating the basics of cloud formation using only a bottle of water and a match! During their time at NSEW, several podcasters caught up with the pupils to find out what they thought of the stall, and how they’d been inspired by what they’d seen and learnt.  


Future events

Over the coming months the Barometer podcast team has big plans to continue their expansive outreach programme, with a third consecutive appearance at the Manchester Science Festival already booked for autumn 2013. This will double previous efforts and incorporate both an hour-long live episode on 29 October, and an afternoon of interactive and engaging weather-related experiments on 2 November.

In the meantime, with the forthcoming 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the focus of the team will be on climate change. A summary of the physical science basis of the report is published on 27 September 2013, with an episode planned to discuss its findings and implications. Tied in with this, several podcast members will be attending the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine conference on 26July, hoping to explore historical perspectives on climate change and discuss previous assessment reports of the IPCC with experts from a diverse range of disciplines. Podcasters will interview these distinguished speakers, providing background and context before the release of the next report.

Shorter, fortnightly to monthly episodes will continue to cover interesting weather events from across the globe and to explore the vagaries of weather folklore. If there is a topic that you want covering or a weather myth that you want busting, please let us know so that we can help out!


Links to other resources

Link to the latest episode or post

Archive of all episodes

Official Facebook page

Official Twitter account

Podcaster Will Morgan’s blog

The International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine runs from 22-26 July 2013. A timetable of the public events is available here