Harry Nolan
29 Oct 2020



From work experience student to apprentice, and now undergraduate…

Harry Nolan in the lab



Harry began his apprenticeship at ISIS in 2014. During the application process, he also applied for a work experience placement, and spent a week with the electrical design team. “My original attraction to ISIS was the fascinating work that happens here, and the large scale of the engineering;" explains Harry, “the work experience placement gave me a chance to look around a bit more, and meet the staff. Seeing how the engineering can be used to support the amazing science projects made me sure about taking up the apprenticeship."

During his apprenticeship, Harry had placements at Diamond Light Source, the Central Laser Facility, RAL Space and even ILL and CERN. During his penultimate placement, he spent time in the electrical design team at ISIS; “I was back in the same desk that I'd been sat at during my work experience!" Harry remembers; “I enjoyed being part of that team, and especially like the design aspect of the work."

When given a number of offers for work after his apprenticeship had finished, Harry chose to join ISIS as an Electrical Design and Projects Engineer. Not content with full-time employment, he wanted the opportunity to keep expanding his knowledge and started a part-time BEng in Electrical Engineering sponsored by STFC, based out of London South Bank University.

“It's intense, but I wanted to push myself" he says; “I spend one day a week in London, with sessions running 9am-9pm, and then also have university work to do in my evenings and weekends. I've also enjoyed meeting the other students, who are from companies including TFL and UK AEA."

Now two years into his four-year degree, Harry has the Covid-19 lockdown to contend with; “I'm trying to keep my normal routine, doing university work on a Tuesday. As most of my design work is on the computer, I'm not struggling too much with not being able to go onto site. Although it's not as easy to talk to people over Zoom as it is in the office, and I miss that!"

He also has exams to sit this summer; “the University has made all the exams Open Book. They will release the exam questions in the morning and expect the hand-written answers scanned in and submitted by the evening. It's a very different way of doing it, but I'm looking forward to exams being over so I can get my evenings and weekend back."

Not all apprentices go on to complete part-time degrees, but Harry knew it was for him; “I knew I wanted the qualification, so I'd rather do it straight away than have a gap between studies. My ISIS supervisor has been very supportive and, in my fourth year, I will be able to use my work at ISIS as part of my Final year Project."

As for the next step, Harry hasn't written off further study, but thinks “it would be nice to have fewer pressures, and just have a normal job!"

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)