Janice To

Janice To completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 2016 at Rolls Royce. She went on to present her work at The Big Bang Fair.

Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?

I knew that I wanted to work with in the STEM field, and being able to gain hands-on experience would be a great advantage. My chemistry teacher introduced me to the Nuffield Research Placement scheme. As I was going to be applying for university soon, this was an amazing opportunity! Completing the placement would give me something to write about and be proud of in my personal statement.

What was your project about and did you know anything about the area before you started the placement?

I spent my summer at Rolls Royce (Inchinnan) analysing the oxidation characteristic of the Titanium 6-4 alloy. In other words, the properties of a material used in the compressor blades of a jet engine under high temperatures. I had to measure the alpha case / oxide layer that would form on top of the alloy when exposed to excess heat and oxygen.

After shadowing my supervisors, I was allowed to carry out the majority of the processes in the lab myself. This was a brand new experience for me; I had never encountered anything like this in school before.

Was the placement what you expected it to be?

The placement was better than what I had expected! I never thought that I would be able to touch the machines as they cost thousands of pounds, never mind using them myself!

Did you gain any new skills, both scientific and general work skills, from undertaking your placement?

The skills that I gained in my placement were extremely valuable, especially in my upcoming Advanced Highers where I had to undertake projects. This involved time management, planning and performing the experiments, and analysing the results to produce a technical report.

Has your experience helped you to decide on a career path?

I knew that I wanted to work in science or engineering. Managing to take my placement in an environment which involved both has really influenced me to pursue a career in this area. Chemical engineering is an option which allows me to do this.

What advice would you give to students applying for a Nuffield Research Placement?

Expect the unexpected, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll remember this experience forever. Never be afraid to ask your supervisors for help, they are there to guide you through the placement.

What was it like presenting your work at The Big Bang Competition?

It was nerve-racking at first because I had never competed in a competition in such a big scale before, and those around me had fantastic ideas and projects. I soon settled down and even made a few friends along the way which I hope to keep in touch with in the future.