Consulting Fellow: Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Alumnus Edward graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 1998. Edward has held a number of senior positions in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and has a developed a real passion for promoting diversity in STEM.
I chose to study at Loughborough because its mathematical sciences department was known as a centre of excellence in applied mathematics, an area which particularly interested me (and still does!) A supplementary factor was that as someone who grew up in rural East Anglia, the green spaces on the campus and in the surrounding Leicestershire countryside were less intimidating than some city-centre universities.
The breadth of applied mathematics covered by my degree were an excellent preparation for my work as a scientist in the public sector. The modules studying the mathematics of areas like fluid and solid mechanics, relativity, quantum, cosmology and neural networks gave insights into subjects like engineering, physics and even biology, this has meant that I have been able to move easily between specialist and generalist scientific leadership roles with, at the least, some language familiarity.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Only study it if you have a real passion for mathematics and its applications, and if you do decide to study maths then do embrace the links between mathematics, other STEM subjects and even the arts.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
I was vice-president of Loughborough Students’ Ballroom Dancing Society and met my now wife in this society. We still enjoy taking to the dance floor at weddings and similar events!
I work for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which brings together the defence and security S&T community, including industry, academia, wider government and international partners, to provide sensitive and specialist S&T services to the Ministry of Defence and wider government.
I joined Dstl’s predecessor organisation as a mathematical modeller on graduating, and as the modelling was of materials I was sponsored to study a Post-Graduate Diploma in Materials for Engineering Applications at the University of Surrey. I subsequently became a staff officer to one of Dstl’s directors, essentially helping them plan their time, taking minutes of their meetings, preparing presentations and organising events.
I then became an operational researcher, and led both near term research supporting UK forces on operations and more long term research to support major procurement decisions. I then became a team leader, and spent four years leading two teams of operational researchers that provided support to the UK Military in procurement decisions. I was then appointed Programme Manager for Air Enabling Capabilities and Technologies, when I led all of the MOD’s scientific research into aircraft safety.
Finally, in my current role, I am leading elements of the Dstl strategy to use UK S&T capabilities more effectively and efficiently by building partnerships and better ways of working.
I love the breadth of my current job, one day I will be discussing electronic engineering facilities and the next could be discussing ships that are used for maritime trials. I also get to travel both in the UK and occasionally overseas, which adds variety to life. I am an enthusiastic mentor and love this aspect of my work, listening to more junior colleagues and encouraging and enabling their development.
I expect to be carrying out my current role for at least another year, then I hope to get another role that plays to my strengths in leadership and building S&T capabilities through partnering. I have recently been asked to join Loughborough University School of Science’s Industrial Advisory Board, and I have also been asked to speak in the Mathematical Sciences department about public sector careers in maths, and am looking forward to spending time on campus and rekindling my Loughborough links.
I was awarded the Iraq Medal for a three-month deployment to Iraq conducting operational research for UK forces based in Basra.
I hold Fellowships in the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Royal Society of the Arts, and I am a Chartered Mathematician and Scientist. Outside work I am a non-executive director and trustee of an arts-based charity and a Governor and non-executive director of the University of Winchester.