Our summer research placement students

Each year the Nuclear Energy Futures CDT invites applications for its undergraduate summer research placement scheme. Hosted at one of the five participating universities, these placements give aspiring nuclear professionals the opportunity to learn more about academic research and the real-world challenges and opportunities in the nuclear sector. 

Below you can learn about the experiences of our successful placement students. If you're interested in applying, please visit our application webpage. 

2020 

Tom Butler

Tom Butler, a graduate of the summer placement schemeI completed a summer research placement to gain an insight into the life of a researcher and to complement my studies in Mechanical Engineering.

During my project I investigated computational modelling for thermal fracture of nuclear fuel using an emerging fracture methodology. Over the summer I was provided with access to high performance computing resources, exposed to novel research and worked closely with high-profile academic groups.

Following my placement, I have continued to model nuclear fuel fracture for my masters thesis. I have found that many companies are interested in and highly value students with research experience. I will be graduating in 2021 and am pursuing a career in the energy sector. 

 

George Riley

George Riley, summer research placement graduate

The summer placement put me in a research setting working closely with academics over a period of time much longer than most university projects, so I think it gave a really good taste of what masters or PhD work or even industry projects are like. I was very unsure of what I wanted to do right up until the end of my degree, so I found summer placements really useful for this reason. 

During my placement with the University of Bristol's Interface Analysis Centre I looked at the kinetics of the hydriding of uranium with respect to tritium storage for nuclear fusion. Due to Covid the project was turned into a literature review, but this was actually really informative for me since it showed me that a really good literature review doesn't just summarise what's been studied before, but it can bring together data from different sources to reveal wholly new scientific findings.

 I've recently started the Jacobs' Physics Graduate Scheme working on new advanced nuclear reactor designs. In particular, the U-Battery Small Modular Reactor project whose design offers autonomous operation with passive safety systems to provide ~10MW of locally generated nuclear energy. The Nuclear Energy Futures CDT Summer Placement undoubtedly helped me make it through the thorough application process successfully. 

 

Ed Saunders

Having seen research in other contexts before, I wanted to experience real research in a university setting, and to see how academics work with each other day to day.

During the placement I worked on a new phase field model for stress corrosion cracking, with the aim of using the model to demonstrate how a phase field approach can recreate crack initiation – specifically the cracking of long term nuclear waste storage vessels. The internship took place during the first COVID-19 lockdown and so was by remote working, but that didn’t stop the Wenman Group from welcoming me and including me in the weekly catch-up meetings – which were probably my favourite experiences of the internship

Following the placement I’m about to start a nanoscience PhD in Cambridge, where I hope to continue to work on energy materials.