"My placement provided me with more than I could ever have expected. I am now certain on pursuing a career in science, and I feel much more confident in my ability to study my chosen subject at a higher level."
Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?
I applied for a placement as I have always had a keen interest in chemical sciences. I was at the stage in my school career where the time to decide on a career path was fast approaching. Without any experience in industry, I saw a Nuffield placement as the perfect opportunity to experience and explore the world of science outside of school.
What was your project about and did you know anything about the area before you started the placement?
My project involved evaluating the use of an alternative type of carbon for use in GR Advanced Material’s black inks. The main aim of my project was to help the organisation reduce production costs, since the new material was cheaper than the existing carbon source. Before I started the placement, I had no background knowledge of the chemistry behind inks at all; however, thanks to the excellent instruction I received from my supervisor, I was able to quickly pick up the necessary lab techniques and make a real contribution to the team’s research output.
How did your supervisor help you with your project?
Throughout my placement, my supervisor was fantastic. He provided me with the perfect balance of support where I was able to work independently and use my own initiative, whilst never being stuck or unsure on what to do next. I was given great support from day one which allowed me to maximise on my experiences over the entire six weeks.
Did you gain any new skills from undertaking your placement?
My skills in using my initiative, being independent, working in a team, carrying out scientific research and solving problems have undoubtedly improved. Having seen the industrial processing of inks from start to finish, I now have a much better understanding of how chemistry is put into practice. My experience of working alongside scientists and technologists will, without a doubt, help me in my future career.
Has your experience helped you to decide on a career path?
Before my Nuffield placement, I was interested in a career as a chemical engineer and after completing my research project I felt more confident studying the discipline at degree level. I will be starting a BEng in Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University in September 2014.
What advice would you give to students applying for a Nuffield Research Placement?
The only advice I would give is to definitely apply: you have nothing to lose but so much to gain. You will learn a great deal from a four to six week placement; not only about science and its applications but, ultimately, you will discover things about yourself, too.