Monday, 31 October 2016

Extended work placement student Olivia Jackson - Student Case Study

My name is Olivia Jackson and I go to Woking College. For my AS I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, though I am dropping Biology this year. After A-level I would like to do a degree in Physics and/or Chemistry and go on to do a PhD. If I am not sick of universities after that I hope to continue doing research and teaching lectures.

I applied for a SATRO research placement as I wanted to do something over the summer that helped me become a better scientist (and also got me out of bed). As well as this, an extra benefit of the SATRO research placement is that it also looks great on applications for university and can help prepare you for undergraduate learning.

I worked with the Advanced Technology Institute at Surrey University and Altro, a flooring and wall company, to develop a method in order to print electronics onto flexible floor and wall tiles for future developments in sensing for hospitals and homes. The issue with printing using traditional methods such as inkjet printing with rough substrates is that often the adhesion is very bad and the so the printed electrics aren’t reliable or long-lasting. For my project I printed with conductive ink using screen printing and then tested the conductivity of the prints before and after extreme stress testing. Because the method had not been explored much there were lots of problems initially such as how to make templates and clean the screens. However, after experimentation and some research these were overcome.

My research placement helped me to develop a lot of skills such as report writing, analysis, and quick thinking. It was particularly useful for showing me what working in science is like on a day-to-day basis and how researchers often face unforeseen problems which they must overcome.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Extended work placement student Jaimee Kerven - Student Case Study

I currently study Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics with the hope to study Biomedical Science when I go to university. For a career, I would love to be involved in research especially either for drugs or genetics. I decided to apply for a placement with SATRO as it was not only a research focused assignment, it also gave me to opportunity to complete a CREST award with their support.

I was excited to find out that I had been selected and was told that my placement would be with the University of Surrey working with their Nutritional Sciences department. In the first week I was set preliminary research to familiarise myself with my project: the effect of weight on Vitamin D levels. As well as the research I was also helping my mentor with her work too which showed me how my research was relevant and how it was progressing in a real life context. My mentor gave me a data set that some student had collected so I picked out the variables I wanted and then produced graphs to analyse.

It was a great opportunity and something that I will definitely mention when applying to university. During the placement I had access to many resources such as their library, scientific journals and talking to scientists and PhD students. The experience benefitted me as I had real life application of the work that I do in school which will prepare me for the future.

- Jaimee Kerven

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Extended work placement student Grace Tribe - Student Case Study

My name is Grace Tribe and I study Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Art at The Tiffin Girls’ School. I am aiming to go to university to study Broad-based Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. I applied for a placement because I wanted to try to see the world of work and what an engineering job could involve.

My placement was at a company called KBC where I worked with the chemical engineers and focused on the distillation processes. I was asked to update their existing correlation which helps shows their clients how much energy their site consumes. This involved learning how to use their simulation software and upgrading the old models to the latest versions. I then compared the results and modified accordingly to match the results. A client of KBC asked if a synthetic crude could be applied to this correlation. My next task was to test this and come up with a presentation outlining the results.

I have benefited greatly from this experience because I had the opportunity to talk with both chemical and mechanical engineers at the company for an insight into their work. It was interesting to see how the team worked together as ideas bounced off each other and how they didn’t know what task they could be working on next. I think this is a great chance for any prospective scientists and engineers to get a taste of the workplace and the area of study which they are interested in.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Extended work placement student Dominic Birn-Pratt - Student Case Study

My name is Dominic Birn-Pratt.

I am currently studying at Strode’s College in Egham, where I am taking A Levels in Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics. While I have no specific plans for a future career, I know I would like to continue working in and studying maths. I hope to go onto a good maths specialist university or a Russell Group university.

I applied for the placement because I wanted to gain experience with mathematical modelling and help me determine what kind of job I wish to do in the future. In addition, I applied in order to help widen my mathematical understanding. While I have previously taken in part in similar extra-curricular Maths events, I have had little practical experience of applying my mathematics skills and knowledge in a work context.

 I spent my three week work placement with Jacobs Engineering, where I was tasked with developing a model to forecast the cost of maintenance of railway stations in Greater Manchester. I had to research various methods of simulating asset degradation, before deciding which best suited the available data. In the end, I succeeded in creating both a linear and an exponential degradation model, which could be transferred and applied to the various assets.

I feel this placement has not only helped me understand some of the more practical aspects of mathematics, but also it’s help me understand the importance of clear, high quality data. If you do not have the information needed, then you are very limited in the models available to you. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Extended work placement student Ambreen Muhammed - Student Case Study

Extended Work Placement Summer 2016
Case Study

Name: Ambreen Muhammed
School: Tiffin Girls’ School
Areas of study: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths
Future University, I am applying to:

  • Oxford 
  • Imperial
  • Kings College London
  • St George’s University
Career hopes:
Medicine- Cardiology or Paediatrics

Why I applied for the placement:
As an aspiring medic, I applied for a SATROclub research placement, as I am thoroughly fascinated by how living organisms work at a molecular level. I wished to channel my creativity into a challenging but rewarding project over the four weeks, as while I am keen to study medicine, I sincerely felt that it would be beneficial for me to determine what type of medicine I would like to be involved in.

Whilst also being able to develop my teamwork and communication skills, I had the opportunity to carry out an independent `research project and develop on my knowledge of cardiology through being able to ask questions to consultants and PhD fellows who are very well equipped with the knowledge to inspire me to pursue medicine in the future.
As a recipient of a bursary I was lucky enough to have all my costs and travel expenses funded which was amazing!

My Project:
My project involved researching the increasing issue of sudden cardiac death in young elite athletes. While it is known that in general, black athletes face a 3 times greater risk to sudden cardiac death compared to their white counterparts, the risk posed to mixed race athletes are at a relatively understudied, with no studies describing how their hearts differ electrically and structurally. Despite this, an increasing number of mixed race athletes are participating at every level of sport which makes it extremely dangerous not to know how great the risk that they face is.

In order to answer these question, I collected data regarding the ECGs and echo-cardiograms results of over 1000 athletes. I then data based these results and created graphs to allow easier comparison between the 3 cohorts (Black, Mixed race and White). I compared come of the known risk factors of SCD using data from the cohort to conclude the risk faced by mixed race athletes relative to their White and Black counterparts.

How I benefited from the placement:
Throughout this placement I have developed my teamwork and communication skills whilst also being able to learn a lot about how the heart develops in response to exercise and the factors which affect SCD, as well as how to interpret ECGs and echo-cardiograms to identify cardiac abnormalities. I have also learnt how important good time management skills are in completing a research project.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Extended work placement student Abigail Muller - Student Case Study

Abigail Muller – ATI, UniS

Details about me: I attend Rosebery sixth form and I am currently studying maths, further maths, physics and geography at A Level. When I finish school, I hope to study Maths at university.

Why I applied for a placement: 
I applied for a placement to gain experience working in a field of research.

Brief Description of the placement and research involved: I was tasked with producing a series of learning resources for Undergraduate Electrical and Electronic Engineering modules. I created a series of informative 'How to' videos on a range of skills taught in first year lab sessions including: how to solder, how to use a digital multimeter and how to use a cathode ray oscilloscope. To produce the videos, I had to research the topic, write the script, film and record audio and edit. 

How I benefited from the experience: I experienced the day to day life of a researcher, learnt how to produce and edit videos and saw a lot of interesting technology in use such as a 3D printer. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

STEMalive! Blog post by Elaine Hickmott

Salt and Vinegar Science
By Dr Elaine Hickmott, Development Director, EH Enterprises
When you hear the word science what is the first thing that comes into your head?  Whatever it may be, I bet it’s not the image of a bag of your favourite potato crisps.

While speaking to the excellent Rachel Melvin of McLaren Automotive at SATRO’s recent volunteer event, our conversation turned to the wonderful world of manufacturing.  As we chatted about just how much we both love it, we began discussing the BBC2 series, Inside The Factory; in particular the episode about crisps.  Oh my word, the STEM involved in producing, packaging and distributing these popular snacks is quite amazing.

With these thoughts in my head and our science-themed STEMalive! event on 16 November fast approaching, there was nothing for it; a blog post about science and crisps was most definitely in order.  So let’s take a look at some examples of how science is an essential component in a pack of our special snacks.

Add in biology to...

... ensure the core ingredient is the best.

It may be the star of the show but not every potato can make a crisp and with thousands of varieties world-wide, selecting and growing the most suitable ones takes more input than you may first imagine.  Before we even get to the manufacturing site, farmers are growing the potatoes.  For them to achieve the yields, textures, characteristics and storage profiles needed, the biologists have to lend a helping hand with selecting and breeding suitable varieties of potato.  Biology obviously plays an important role in taking our spuds from soil to snack.

Add in physics to...

...give the crispiness and crunch we desire. 

In Alex Babbs’ physics careers blog post about physics and food, John Bows, Technology Innovation Manager at PepsiCo Europe R&D explains how physics is critical in the production of a perfect crisp.  It enables manufacturers to understand more about how potato slices behave when they are cooked.  These insights include understanding the surface tension of potato slices and looking at how processing affects their structure.  Cooking potatoes on an industrial scale in a way which brings us crisps with the crunch we expect certainly requires physics to play its part.

Add in chemistry to...

... create the tastes we know and love.

Flavour chemists are working hard behind the scenes creating a huge variety of tastes and flavours to satisfy our diverse palates.  They blend a range of chemicals and extracts to safely produce the taste experience we expect when we dive into our packet of crisps.  Working with parts per billion here and parts per billion there, these flavours not only have to satisfy us, they must also withstand the manufacturing process and storage.  Our everyday snacks certainly require chemistry to help pack a punch when it comes to taste.

Next time you’re tucking into your favourite bag of crisps remember it is brought to you by those three special ingredients, physics, chemistry and biology. 

- Elaine Hickmott 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Engineering Still Needs More Women!

Not enough students, schools and teachers realise that science subjects and engineering careers are a feasible option for girls.

The percentage of men working in a STEM job with some college, an associate's degree,bachelors degree, or master's degree is triple or quadruple that of women with the same degree.

Below is a link to the online version of 'The Female Face of Civil Engineering' which includes our STEMX Manager, Keisha Smith and her experiences. Her dad suggested doing a degree in Civil Engineering to give her a broader background in engineering, which it did!