Placement case studies

Placement students gain valuable transferable skills and knowledge from undertaking a year industry. We hear from students who have returned from a placement about their experiences.

Luke Farnworth, MBDA Missile Systems

After the second year of my degree at Loughborough University I did a placement at MBDA Missile Systems working within the modelling capability of the Warheads department. After a successful year I accepted an offer for a graduate role working within the same team. Throughout my placement I had the opportunity to work on many interesting projects, modelling different aspects of warhead performance using Hydrocodes and Engineering tools. My placement gave me a new found interest in all aspects of modelling; something that I had never considered as a career before and wouldn’t have considered if it wasn’t for my placement.

Jesel Patel, Central Laser Facility, Science & Technology Facilities Council

The Central Laser Facility (CLF) is home to the high-power lasers (HPLs), Gemini and Vulcan - used for particle acceleration, laser-fusion, and wide-reaching research into industrial, medical and scientific applications. This placement role is concerned with advancing current detector technologies for the next generation of HPLs such as the new EPAC project, which will run at high power and high repetition. Working at the CLF was a great opportunity to gain practical experience in a professional lab environment, collaborating with peers from around the world for academic research. Even during the COVID crisis, the placement was engaging and educational, providing the freedom to independently solve practical and theoretical problems, and learn about the fascinating physics of laser-plasma interactions. I can't recommend it more to someone interested in research, it has been a massively formative year for my prospective career and me personally.

Aidan Poynter, Lloyds Banking Group

During my degree at Loughborough University, I completed an industrial placement year as a Risk Analyst at Lloyds Banking Group in Edinburgh. This year gave me invaluable experience in a professional environment and particularly in the financial industry. I developed a wide range of relevant personal and technical skills which enabled me to secure a position as a Data and Analytics graduate at Royal Bank of Scotland. The year was very rewarding in terms of giving me more career direction, confidence, and motivation for the final year of university. I would highly recommend taking a placement to any student considering it! 

Daniel John Barton, Network Rail Birmingham New Street

I did a placement at Network Rail, Birmingham New Street. My job role was in asset management, renewing signalling assets. I spent my time developing railway control software. The most marketable experience I gained was a variety of computing skills. I have developed two different software applications for Network Rail. The year was so successful that I was offered a Graduate Training Programme there.

Kamal Brahim, Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL)

During my degree at Loughborough I did a placement at the Central Laser Facility working with infrared high-powered research lasers. The year was very important in securing the skills and experiences critical to making my professional profile stand out. Before graduating I secured a graduate internship later leading to a permanent job offer with a very competitive ‘Times Top 100 Graduate Employer’. Without my placement and internship experiences I would not have been equally reaffirmed in my decision to pursue a PhD as I am now.

Harry James Allan, CERN

I have just completed my placement year at CERN in Switzerland. Here I worked on the Versatile Link Plus, a high-speed optical data link used to read and control on-detector electronics on the LHC experiments. Taking a placement year has allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I gained at university, while also improving my confidence to work in a team on a real project. I would definitely recommend taking a placement year as an opportunity to learn more about a particular area, and to help you find out what you want to get out of your degree.

Una Davies, Rolls-Royce

During my degree at Loughborough I did a placement year at Rolls-Royce, where I worked as a Nuclear Engineering Intern on their submarine reactors used by the UK Royal Navy. This was a great opportunity to see how the theoretical knowledge I had studied was applied to real life problems. I used computer simulation tools to model the reactors, carried out tests on components to be used in new reactor designs, and helped develop product specifications to send to suppliers. The best part of my placement was going on an operational physics test on the HMS Torbay in Devonport, where I worked with a team of senior engineers to carry out tests on-board the submarine. My placement year was an amazing experience and I came back to Loughborough with an improved work ethic, a new appreciation for the physics behind my studies, and an offer for the Rolls-Royce Graduate Programme. In the end, I decided to do a master's and a PhD instead of going into industry, but the experience working in the nuclear industry sparked my interest in nuclear power and prompted me to research nuclear engineering as my PhD thesis topic.

Saoirse Conroy, The Science Technology Facilities Council

I have just completed my placement at The Science Technology Facilities Council where I worked with the Ultra and Artemis laser groups to help them in the instillation of a new 100kHz infrared laser. During the year I worked on a research project that explored supercontinuum generation, a phenomenon that generates white light from monochromatic light, the hope was that this phenomenon would improve the functionality of new laser systemI also worked with the team to manage the daily running of the facility, such as topping up the liquid nitrogen in the laser systems ready for user experiments. During my time there I gained invaluable experience in research and laboratory skills that I can apply to my masters project. I would definitely recommend doing a placement during your time in Loughborough, you will gain invaluable experience and maturity that will help you better transition from university life to the working world. 

Agnes Wojtusiak, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

During my time at STFC I worked with the research and development section of the Central Laser Facility. My work involved conducting characterisation tests of optical components (such as mirrors and beam-splitters), computational modelling of a design for their next-generation high power laser, and using LabVIEW (a visual programming language) to design software that automatically collects data from 5 different instruments. The latter is even now saving everyone a lot of time in taking measurements, as a result of which 2 papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals, with myself as a co-author.

I learned so much, while also contributing to world leading research! The placement was very challenging, but I had so much support from all my colleagues.