A number of our students choose to complete a placement within industry. In this video, three of our Undergraduate students discuss their placements with companies including Rolls Royce and Airbus. Please note: Students are required to organise their own placement. 

Industry Placements

Three Undergraduate students discuss their placements in industry work, including Rolls Royce and Airbus.

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Cornelius Carlsson - ABB (2020)

An image of Cornelius

Cornelius completed a 10 week placement at ABB over the summer of 2020.

 1. How did you arrange the placement? 

My contact with ABB started over a year before the start of my internship. In the summer of 2019, I found several interesting job adverts via LinkedIn as a result of an expansion taking place at one of the company’s research centres. I reached out to an HR person asking if they foresaw the hiring round continuing into the following year, expressing my interest to join the materials team there. I was turned down due to the company’s reservation to only hire graduates, and then again a second time in the autumn when ABB came for a career visit at Imperial. However, by establishing direct contact with a professional with whom I had a mutual connection, I was able to have my CV sent around to several research scientists at the facility. One employee, who would go on to become my colleague, found my skills and interests aligned with an ongoing project and so forwarded my application to another employee, who would turn out to become my supervisor. This led to 2-on-1 interview, followed by an attractive offer for the summer.  

2. Why did you want to complete a placement at ABB?

My goal for the summer was to intern at a large company because I wanted to get a taste for corporate life and how I would fare in a fast-paced, profit-driven environment. ABB stood out to me, because, although being known for their power electronics equipment and machinery, they also had a strong foundation in materials research and development. This meant I could look forward to building on the theory I learned at university and apply it toward the development of a commercial product, which I found very exciting. The industry ABB is in also appealed to me, because I took a strong liking toward all my modules dealing with semiconductor physics and electronics, and had developed this interest by recently joining the Imperial College Robotics Society. Furthermore, being Swedish and having lived in Switzerland, the heritage and values of the company spoke to me on a personal level.  

3. Can you tell us about your main responsibilities during the placement? 

What made the work truly exciting, is that I was contributing to an end-use product, which unfortunately also means that my work was under NDA. What I can say, however, is that I spent most of my time dealing with heat flow optimizations inside of electrical vehicle charging connectors. The majority of my days were spent working with simulation and data processing tools, while also getting the chance to benchmark some of my designs in a thermal testing lab. Alongside this, I also conducted critical design reviews and made project-specific literature searches for my team. 3D printing custom components, mechanical tests and carrying out electrical resistance measurements were some of the specialized tasks that would also require my assistance from time to time. Overall, it was a highly interdisciplinary experience that got me involved in many aspects of the project and its objectives.  

4. What did you learn? 

The most practical skill I learnt was the operation of engineering software. I used COMSOL to model heat transfer, but the same workflow applies for electrical, mechanical and acoustic analysis, so I’m happy to have learnt how to use such a versatile simulation tool. Aside from this, I also verified and built on my knowledge of SolidWorks, Python and was pleased to find my work tying in with many (which I previously thought were quite distinct) theoretical courses taught at university: polymers and composites, continuum mechanics, electrochemistry etc. Equally valuable was the insight into ABB’s business model, the electric vehicle industry as a whole, and the gate-stage process in bringing new technology to market. My interaction with my supervisor and other talented researchers and project managers also taught me how to push productivity both individually and in a team, as well as deliver effective presentations for staff across various departments.   

5. Do you have any highlights from your experience?  

The people I worked with made all the difference. Due to a strong internship community at ABB, the small struggles we figured out together made the experience even more worthwhile – spending an hour trying to find a working pair of cooling fans, or trying to get the visible light microscope to work was actually great fun. Outside of work, the other interns and I would often play basketball (not that I’m any good at it), and as a whole project team, we also went to the lake for a swim once and another time for a fondue dinner! To add to that, one of the senior scientists founded a brewery side business, so we also got free beer from him, which was nice.  

6. Has the placement helped you with your degree or outlook on a future career?  

Absolutely. What I proved to myself is that I really do care about understanding the fundamental physics and chemistry behind new technologies but also am most driven when I work on developing a commercial product. As a result, I assured myself that pursuing a further Master qualification in applied physics is the right choice for me. ABB also showed me that the management side of a project does not have to be, and should not be, separated from the underlying research that pushes it forward. Therefore, a managing or business development role for when I gain more practical experience is something I now view more favourably. With this internship under my belt, I also feel more industrially aware and in a stronger position to find an interesting job after graduation, even if it’s a few years down the line.   

 

Emmeline Poole - Dyson (2020)

A photo of Emmeline PooleEmmeline completed a 10-week placement at Dyson over the Summer of 2020.

1.  How did you arrange the placement? 

In the Autumn term of my third year, I researched materials science/engineering companies and contacted them directly, asking for opportunities to undertake a placement with them. By the end of February 2020, I had secured a placement with an Advanced Materials Company through this method. Unfortunately, this company was then detrimentally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to cancel my placement. Since it was already April and, with most companies either having filled their quotas for summer placements or cancelling their programmes as well, it seemed unlikely that I would be able to secure a new opportunity. 

Despite my exams approaching, I devoted time to applying for new opportunities and making further contact with companies I had approached/noted down prior to gaining my original placement. I had to balance my time extremely well, working hard on my applications whilst still revising and undertaking my exams. At short notice, I became aware that Dyson had reopened their placement scheme for applications and successfully undertook their recruitment process. Dyson confirmed my placement just 3 days before the deadline to confirm a secured opportunity for extra degree credits in my final year! 

2. Why did you want to complete a placement at Dyson? 

If I am brutally honest, it was originally because I needed any placement!! The credits I mentioned in the previous question come from a report and presentation submitted in October to the department. This contributes 10% of the marks for the fourth year and provides extra credits so the degree then also becomes ‘Bologna Compliant’. Secondly, I am the Kingsbury Scholar for the Imperial College Faculty of Engineering 2021 Cohort. To retain this scholarship each year, I have had to undertake summer placements in industry. So, to get my credits and funding, I really needed to complete a summer placement. 

However, that being said, once I got through the initial online application stage and began to research Dyson more, I realised how much I did actually want to work for the company. Compared to the companies I had previously completed summer placements at, Dyson has a larger base and is global. Therefore, it would give me a different perspective of the engineering/manufacturing industry. They are also an extremely innovative company, with their core values being Different, Authentic and Better – which really align with my own personal values. I decided to study materials science and engineering because I want to improve things and solve real-world problems, and Dyson seemed to be exactly the type of company that wants to do this too. They also heavily encourage and support women in engineering which really resonates with me. 

3. Can you tell us about your main responsibilities during the placement? 

Due to the non-disclosure agreement in place, I cannot disclose the exact details of my responsibilities during my placement. I can say that I was an RDD (Research, Design and Development) intern in the Personal Care department. My main project involved completing technical research and testing to support the writing of test methods. For this work, I had to write up a full report at the end of my placement and give a presentation to the personal care team on what I had achieved. I was also set other tasks throughout the placement, including small research tasks to aid other projects, as well as helping to set up analysis equipment that had been purchased just before the first lockdown in March 2020 and figuring out how to use it to obtain meaningful data. 

4. What did you learn? 

I learnt how to be more confident in my ideas and explanations. Dyson's working environment has a very ‘start-up’ feel to it, which is something I really liked – everyone listens to your opinions and takes on board your points despite the “hierarchy” that is in place; your ideas really are valued even if you are just an intern! I also became more confident in talking to different people in the business whose job I was interested in. I got much better at networking without feeling awkward or anxious about starting a spontaneous conversation with someone new. I also learnt how important it is to make your data easily digestible by all stakeholders – especially when there is lots of it! 

5. Do you have any highlights from your experience? 

Lots of the other interns were students from Imperial who I probably would never have met without doing the placement. I have definitely made some friends for life with the other interns, so that was a really nice highlight. I also really enjoyed the independence; I was living in a new place (Gloucester), and I had my own car for the first time. All of my previous placements had been close to my hometown, so I always lived with my parents over summer. It gave me an experience of what having a graduate job might be like – and I really enjoyed it. A highlight from the placement itself was personally thanked by the research director for the work I completed. 

6. Has the placement helped you with your degree or outlook on a future career? 

Not with my degree really, but I have been offered the opportunity to return to Dyson in September 2021 as a Graduate Research Engineer which I have accepted and will be the first step in my career!

Laura Lain - Siemens Magnet Technology (2020)

An image of Laura LainLaura is half-way through completing a year-long placement at Siemens Magnet Technology.

1. How did you arrange the placement? 

I found out about this opportunity through LinkedIn in late December of 2019. I applied online in January 2020, and a couple of weeks later, I received an invitation to complete an online test. A few weeks after that, I was invited to an assessment centre day on-site in March, which involved an interview and group exercises with other candidates. That week I was made the job offer, and the placement started in July 2020.  

2. Why did you want to complete a placement at Siemens Magnet Technology? 

Siemens Magnet Technology focuses on the production of MRI magnets, which use principles of superconductivity to produce magnetic fields. This was really interesting to me since I quite like materials physics, and I wanted to get a taste of what a job in engineering would be like. I also like that it’s in the healthcare industry where I can contribute to having a positive impact on people’s lives, and I find this is one of the reasons why the job is fulfilling on a personal level.  

3. Can you tell us about your main responsibilities during the placement? 

I am working as part of a team which focuses on the process engineering of the newest models of magnets. I have been working on several projects in parallel with the aim of increasing production efficiency by reducing labour time and reducing risks to production.   

An example of a project I am currently working on is the implementation of a coating on a bonded part. It was identified that a certain step of the process could be removed if the surface treatment of a part was modified. Therefore I carried out research into different surface treatments and did tensile tests on bonded models of the part to understand which surface treatments yielded better results. During the testing phase, I was involved in meetings with other engineers to discuss different options for the tests and to set success criteria for them. Once I completed the tests, I collated the data into a report and presented the findings to the team, proposing one of the coatings for use on production magnets. The team agreed to this solution and I am now at the stage of managing this change into production.   

4. What have you learned so far?  

Every day has been a learning day during this placement. I have not only been able to gain technical knowledge about the principles behind MRI magnets, but I have been able to experience first-hand how process engineers work, from planning to meetings and different ways of problem-solving. I would say I have experienced most growth regarding “soft skills”, and I feel very grateful to have excellent examples from team members to learn from.  

I have also been trained for the use of cryogens, acids, cranes, and forklifts, which has been quite fun!  

5. Do you have any highlights so far from your experience?   

I really enjoyed a training session I took for working in areas of high magnetic field. I got to hold pennies in my hand inside the bore of a magnet, which was a bit scary since you can really feel the force of the coins trying to leave your hand, and we also waved an aluminium ruler inside the bore, which made the air we were moving it through feel like butter!  

6. Has the placement helped you with your degree or outlook on a future career?  

This placement has given me a clearer understanding of the possibilities there are after graduation, and it has given me ideas on which career path I would like to follow. I have also gained a greater drive to complete my degree as I have a clearer goal in mind now of how I might be using my skills and knowledge for my next job.