Being a computing student at ISIS facility
06 Jul 2011



STFC hires many early career staff each year and several spend their time in ISIS. Here are the views of some of our alumni of their time with us.




Mark Tomlin (Computing Division student, 2021)

My time as a placement student at ISIS has been a very enjoyable and valuable experience for me. Although due to the pandemic I've had to work remotely for the entirety of my placement. The amount of industry experience, skills and training I received has made this time truly worthwhil​e. And that's mainly thanks to all the friendly staff and support I've received. That has helped to organise my remote working setup to be as an ideal of a working experience as to being in their actual office.

The amount of improvement I've seen in my programming and professional skills over the short amount of time has been astounding. And will without a doubt help me when I return to university to complete my dissertation. Overall I'm incredibly glad I took this opportunity with ISIS and would highly encourage any other student to do the same.              ​

Harriet Brown (Junior Software Scientist, 201​9)

I joined the Mantid team as a junior software scientist almost 2 years ago, In that time I have felt more valued here than anywhere else. ISIS has offered financial support for my relocation. The have also offered a great deal of flexibility in my working hours with the flexi working scheme that let me move my hours around to give me time on Fridays to catch a train up north, and on top of that they have supported me further when I decided to move up north permanently making sure that I would be able to work remotely without any issue. 

During my first year they paid for me to take an Open University course to cover aspects of software design that wouldn’t be gotten from a science background. Through ISIS I have opportunities to take on other development on management and I have still been able to continue science outreach.  

I feel like my opinion is valued and my development is supported. This program was a fantastic opportunity for me to move into software development and I would whole heartedly recommend it to anyone in science that finds satisfaction in programming. ​

Richard Waite (Junior Software Scientist, 2019)

The JSS scheme offers a unique opportunity to employ your scientific knowledge in a world class facility at the same time as training to become a software engineer with a mix of on the job training and an Open University course. The JSS scheme gave me the big picture of software engineering theory and practice, as well as the technical programming knowledge I needed to become part of a collaborative team of software developers and scientists. The development team and scientists have been hugely supportive in terms of my training and the JSS role, I feel the scheme has given me the technical knowledge and confidence I needed to become a valued member of the team. ​

Tianyu Wang (Summer student in Facilities Computing group, Summer 2018)

This 9 weeks summer internship is my first proper work experience, it’s really valuable to me, and I have learned a lot.
Here is a list of most useful things I learned here
  • Get experience of professional work environments
  • Agile work flow in Practical
  • Git/GitHub in Practical
  • General knowledge of structure of web (front end/back end/IIS/Payara)
  • web form
  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript
  • Basic knowledge of what Jenkins do​

Muktar Attah (Summer student in Experiment Controls Team, Summer 2017) 

One of the main reasons I decided to pursue a summer vacation student was I wanted to experience how software development could be applied in different fields of work, Being a member of the ISIS control systems team has enabled me to see software engineering in a research field of work. It has been a wonderful experience that has been challenging but also very rewarding. As a member of ISIS I was giving responsibilities that I could only dream of having and was made to feel like a real part of the team despite only being around for a short period, I felt my contribution were valued and the code that I got to write would one day be able to aid some ground breaking research. I am thankful to my supervisor for giving me this opportunity that has enabled me not to only grow technically but has also developed my soft skills that will prove very useful when I return to university for my final year. I'm looking forward to applying for the graduate scheme and experiencing more of what STFC has to offer for me. 

Amritpal Singh (Work experience student in Business Applications Team, Summer 2015)

During my work experience placement, I have covered a wide variety of topics in a relatively short period of time; the many skills I have gained will undoubtedly be of great use to me, whatever I choose to do in the future. Learning to use new technologies is immediately followed by their application, resulting in a far more engaging and rewarding experience than is possible at school. The team was also very welcoming and friendly, and the fun work environment has made my time at RAL especially enjoyable. I would highly recommend this great opportunity to any others looking to undertake work experience.

Simon Titcomb ​(Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2014-2015)

Before I came to STFC I had no idea of how professional software development was done and my skills were more than a little bit unrefined, especially since I had no experience of working within a team for a long period of time. A year on I can confidently say that I’ve learned more here in one year than any amount of years of studying at University. I think it’s incredibly important to have a practical experience; theory can only take you so far. The fact that I’ve learned so much so quickly and in multiple areas is all down to the fact that the entire team is excellent. It’s an easy-going, supportive and friendly environment which naturally breeds creativity and encourages productivity. I’m extremely grateful to everyone here and for everything they’ve taught me, the entire experience has confirmed exactly what I want to do in software development, and ideally in the future I will also get to work with such a good team. Taking this placement year was the best decision for my career and education, not to mention that I had a great time working here with everyone. Thank you all.

Sean Ashiru (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team 2014-2015)

Being with the business applications team had been a huge blessing for me. I was able to work in a team where everywhere was always eager to help and support, and at the same first trust that you can take on responsibilities effectively. With this being my first professional job, I have been able to grow in technical and professional skill, and also in confidence. I am surer now than ever that my degree at the university is well suited for me, and I am going on to complete the degree with the knowledge that I could potentially have a career in a sector I actually enjoy working in, thanks to my experience with the Business Applications Team at STFC.

Will Mustoe (Work experience in Business Applications Team, Summer 2014)

During my placement I learnt the principles of OOP and the HTML Dom, coming in from a non-programming background this was quite a learning curve however it was made enjoyable and easy by the helpful and engaging team I was placed with. It was not long until producing and delivering acceptance tests to the benefit of the overall department’s projects. The placement was thoroughly enjoyable and I would highly recommend it.

Matt Williams (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2013-2014)

When I started my placement with STFC I could not have dreamed about being put in a better, more approachable and easy-going team. It was an incredibly supportive environment and has undoubtedly allowed me to learn as much as I have throughout this year. The incredibly wide variety of technologies I was exposed to across all stages of the development life cycle has given me a real insight into what professional software development is like and reassured me that what I am doing at university is what I want to do and that it will set me in good stead for when I graduate. I cannot be thankful enough for the amount of responsibility I was given as a placement student as although it was a trial by fire at first, the effect it has had on both my development as a person and software development has been profound. The decision to undertake a placement year, especially with STFC, has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Daniel Pope (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2012-2013)

I chose to study Computer Science at Bath because it’s one of the few universities that really encourage their students to go out on a year-long placement. It was a great decision to choose to go out on placement, and I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to work for ISIS. I have been introduced to Subversion and Jenkins, among other technologies that I was never exposed to at university. Working in a small team meant I was given the same responsibilities as everyone else. Visiting other areas on site has rekindled my interest in science and technology, and helped contribute to a well-rounded placement experience. The placement at RAL has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn so many new things which will be of great benefit to me in the future.

Marcus Noble (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2011 -2012)

Spending my placement year at STFC has been the best choice I have made. I have learnt so much more in this one year than I ever could have at university. I have learnt many new technologies and how to apply them to business needs in a way never touched on at university. My skills in Java, C#, ASP .NET, web technologies, system analysis and application design have been vastly improved. Aside from the technical skills I have also been able to develop a lot of communication and personal skills, particularly prevalent when supporting our many users. Working at RAL has also given me the opportunity to learn a lot more about science and technology in ways I never thought I'd experience. My interest in science has never been higher after seeing the work being done here. The success of my year here was pivotal in my decision to return as a graduate in 2013. I highly recommend undertaking a student placement at RAL!

Daniel Thatcher (Work experience student in Business Applications Team, Summer 2012)

I learned a lot of valuable skills while working at RAL that will help me even if I do not go into computing, and will certainly prove helpful in later life. A relaxed and fun working environment made the experience very enjoyable, and helped me to realise what a career in IT could be like.

Jack Rice (Work experience student in Business Applications Team, Summer 2012)

Best part? Learning to work independently to solve problems and learn how to do basic coding skills."

Rustin Nourshargh (Work experience student in Business Applications Team, Summer 2011)

Best part? A combination of the project itself and the extra activities such as lectures and talks. Enjoyment value:5/5. Educational value: 5/5. Easy to understand: 4/5. Explanation of tasks: 5/5. Recommend to a friend? Yes. I have really enjoyed the whole experience.

Jessica Robinson (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2010-2011)

"I have really enjoyed my time as a sandwich student at STFC. It has been interesting to see how large systems are developed and managed by many different people, as well as helping me to better understand a lot of the things I learnt at university by putting them to practical use. One of the best parts of my time here has been being involved in all parts of the software development process, from requirements and design to implementation to testing and finally maintenance. I have also enjoyed learning about and using lots of technologies that were new to me, such as Glassfish, Oracle databases, C#, Google Web Toolkit and Enterprise Java Beans. It has helped me feel a lot more confident in my abilities as a programmer, especially in Java. Working at RAL has also given me a chance to learn about other areas as well as computer science by offering tours around the facilities here. "

Avani Mahendroo (Sandwich student in Business Applications Team, 2010-2011)

"Being at STFC as a sandwich student has been a wonderful experience. I have been able to pick up a lot in different fields of communication and programming. I have been able to improve my communication as well as academic skills. While pursuing my bachelors in Electronics and Computer Science at Aston University, I developed a keen interest in the development of different kinds of software. Working with ISIS computing group as business developer has given me the experience of the real world programming systems using technologies like UML, SQL, CSS, C#,, SharePoint and Ajax. The experience has helped me understand the multi – tiered systems and databases wonderfully even when the technologies were absolutely new to me. Working with the computing group has helped me to widen my knowledge of object oriented programming and bring the theories I did at university to real life.  As an international student, I have definitely discovered a lot about the rich English culture and have appreciated different aspects of it. Being a part of RAL has been an amazing experience on the whole. I would always want to be a part of an organisation with such an inspiring work culture."