During his Chemical Physics degree, Will Jamieson spent one year on a placement in the Materials Characterisation Lab at ISIS. This was the fourth year of his five-year integrated Masters from the University of Edinburgh; “my course required me to complete and write up a stand-alone project, which I did by synthesising and analysing a series of potential multiferroic materials," he explains.
“Almost all of the investigation techniques were new to me, which meant I learnt a lot during the placement. I also got to meet the users who used the lab, and collaborated on some of their projects." Will was even able to get his first publication based on work completed during his placement.
From the interview stage (which involved an overnight sleeper train from Edinburgh!) the placement caught his attention; “I find my skills are best applied when I have a lot of variety in my work, and the placement in the ISIS lab seemed the most interesting and varied of those I applied for. This was definitely the case – during the year I enjoyed working on many different user-led projects."
Will especially enjoyed seeing the mix of academic and industrial users come into the lab, and ISIS more generally. This encouraged him to look for industrially focussed PhD positions, and he began his EngD studies in 2014 at the Industrial Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE), based out of Edinburgh.
The CDT saw him complete training modules for the majority of the first year, and work with an industrial partner for the remainder of the four years. “My project involved developing composites for wave energy systems at Zyba Ltd.; it was very much more like being in a company than a university. My placement gave me a good understanding of how companies work, and made me much better at managing my time, which was particularly helpful in dealing with deadlines for commercial projects."
“I was also able to look back on the experiments I'd seen being done at ISIS involving stress and strain measurements, and link these to the work I was doing. This really helped to put my work in context." He adds; “my time at ISIS was probably the first time I'd done any proper data analysis. I developed this during my EngD, and it's now really useful in my current role."
Will now works for the Energy Saving Trust as an Insight and Analytics Consultant. “I work within a team on a variety of projects, looking at how individuals, businesses and other organisations can reduce their emissions, maximise their energy efficiency and ultimately help deliver a more sustainable society. Having worked almost exclusively on the generation side of things during my EngD, it's good to be working on projects looking at technologies that are, or will become, a direct part of our everyday lives." Despite missing the lab, Will admits that computer-based working has its advantages during lockdown, as he can continue almost as normal.
“As well as technical skills, my placement gave me valuable experience in learning patience, and using diplomacy to work with others. I was very grateful for having an excellent manager, who I still keep in touch with." While at RAL, Will joined the Rec Soc Aunt Sally team, the Abingdon hockey club and Oxford University orchestras. The placements students got to know each other, and have met up a few times since; “It's interesting to see where everyone has ended up – the placements at RAL can lead you anywhere!"