Student Experiences

Many of our past Industrial & Summer Placement students have returned to Sellafield Ltd on the Graduate Scheme. Here, you can get to know some of our Industrial & Summer placement students.

Industrial Placement Students


Emily

Process Engineering

Industrial Placement: Process Engineering

Current Profession: Process Engineering Placement Type: Industrial (Year-long)
Degree Discipline: Chemical Engineering with Nuclear Technology University Attending:  The University of Sheffield

Tell us about your time on the Industrial Placement Scheme..

My placement has mostly consisted of work revolving around effluent treatment. The work carried out by the team is varied and always presents different challenges. Key tasks personally have included the modelling and flowsheeting of effluent systems at different scales using a variety of software, assessing the likelihood of a technical issue and possible mitigation options should it arise, identification and investigation of alternative solutions to give efficiency related benefits, and the review of information used by other teams against a set of criteria.

Each piece of work brings opportunities with it – I have given a presentation to over 50 process engineers at once, been on tours of facilities on site to aid understanding of work I’m involved in, been the sole representative of my team in meetings to specify the scope of a future joint work package, and taken my work through a number of committees comprising senior members of the technical community.

Have you learnt anything during your Placement that you couldn’t have learnt from studying at University?

I would say that the main things I have developed at Sellafield Ltd are professional and behavioural skills. I have given presentations to senior and technical audiences, networked with a wide range of people, and interfaced with regulators and Site Strategy. I would not have had any of these opportunities through university alone. Early in the scheme we took part in an assessment centre style day and were each given Development Objectives to work on through the year based on our performance – these have included written communication skills, presentations, project management, and knowledge of the business.

Crucially for me, working at Sellafield has given me lots of context and motivation which will make a difference when returning to university. University teaching can sometimes seem abstract and hard to apply, but having worked in industry I better understand how to truly apply that knowledge, and the difference it can make in the real world.

What is the community like at Sellafield?

I’ve come to know the placement and graduate community really well through simple things like eating lunch together, and also through regular socials and STEM events. The socials are varied and there is truly something for everyone – there’s been everything from nights out to bubble football! Anyone is able to organise a social or charity event, and lots of friendships are formed which extend beyond formal socials.

What attracted you to apply for a placement at Sellafield Ltd?

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in the energy and the environment – meaning Sellafield Ltd is a great company to work for as I’m involved in the environmental remediation of the site which hosted the world’s first civil nuclear power station, alongside other key nuclear facilities. I was excited by the prospect of directly applying the things I had learnt through the Nuclear Technology specialism I chose as part of my degree, and was also attracted to the idea of unique challenges faced at Sellafield but seen nowhere else in the world.

How did you find moving to a new location to complete your placement?

I moved in with a group of placement students who the company put me in touch with before starting. We were mostly new to the area, and this was a really sociable way to meet people and settle in. I work at the Warrington office and chose to live in Manchester because of all the activities, transport links, and nightlife available – it’s been great getting to know a new city. As well as the benefits of living in Manchester itself, it also gives me easy access to the Lake and Peak Districts, as well as other places of interest like Liverpool.

If you had one piece of advice for future placement students, what would it be?

If you’re considering whether to do a placement or not, my number one piece of advice is that you should definitely go for it! Once you start, I can’t recommend enough that you make the most of all your opportunities, and get involved with as many things as you can.


Niall

Operational Research

Industrial Placement: Operational Research

Current Profession: Operational Research Placement Type: Industrial (Year-long)
Degree Discipline: Physics University Attending: The University of Sheffield

Tell us about your time on the Industrial Placement Scheme..

I have been using analytical techniques and simulation models to help the business make informed decisions. My department have given me the responsibility of being the lead analyst on two projects. This has allowed me to develop my leadership skills and be involved in a variety of work ranging from legacy waste retrievals to resourcing strategies.

Have you learnt anything during your Placement that you couldn’t have learnt from studying at University?

General skills required in a working environment such as good business etiquette, interacting with customers, and personal reviews.

What is the community like at Sellafield?

There are plenty of different activities organised by the graduate comity which you are welcome to get involved in. There are often sports on offer as well as nights out; it is a friendly and welcoming community across apprentices, placements and graduates.

What attracted you to apply for a placement at Sellafield Ltd?

There are plenty of different departments which were applicable to my degree. I found that Sellafield Ltd is involved with some innovative and state-of-the-art projects which were of interest to me. Sellafield Ltd is a large, reputable company which is recognised throughout the industry.

How did you find moving to a new location to complete your placement?

I moved to Warrington, the area is very friendly and is conveniently located between Manchester and Liverpool. Being that close to two big cities there are plenty of places to explore, no matter what your interests are.

If you had one piece of advice for future placement students, what would it be?

Embrace every opportunity you are offered and get involved with as many activities and projects that are available to you.

 


Harry

Technical Process Support

Industrial Placement: Technical Process Support

Current Profession: Technical Process Support Placement Type: Industrial (Year-long)
Degree Discipline: MEng Chemical with Environmental Engineering University Attending: University of Nottingham

Tell us about your time on the Industrial Placement Scheme..

For my placement I was based in HALES Technical, providing technical process engineering support to the Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage plant. This is generally more of a hands-off placement than others, my role mainly consisting performing calculations and authoring reports to support and improve the operation of the plant.

As part of this role, I was seconded to National Nuclear Laboratory to provide operational support to a non-active test rig to resolve a site-critical commissioning issue on Evaporator D. This involved some technical work, such as troubleshooting issues on the rig; but also a great deal of practical work as well, such as performing rheological tests on potential simulants. This was a highly time-sensitive project, and I was given a lot of responsibility to ensure its delivery.

Have you learnt anything during your Placement that you couldn’t have learnt from studying at University?

Being based in a technical support team, I was working with some very experienced chemical engineers and was able to pick up several tips & tricks for applying things I’d learned in university. For example, while I had of course used Microsoft Excel quite a bit at university, I am now fairly handy with the VBA coding language which allows me to program Excel to automate repetitive tasks and even build rudimentary modelling programs.

What is the community like at Sellafield?

There is an excellent community of graduates & students at Sellafield. Socials are roughly every month, including hikes, climbing trips, go-karting, and trips to the pub. On top of that, things like the local boxing club and 5-a-side football often attract a fair few graduates so there’s something going on most nights.

What attracted you to apply for a placement at Sellafield Ltd?

Sellafield has good ties to the University of Nottingham so my interest was piqued early on by some visiting Sellafield Engineers, who gave us a presentation and a design project as part of my second year.

Following this I spoke to a few previous placement students that I know from my university. They all said that Sellafield has one of the best placement schemes, involving proper chemical engineering experience and great employment prospects for the future.

How did you find moving to a new location to complete your placement?

Moving up to Cumbria was fine. You’re assigned a placement buddy – a current placement student that acts as your first point of contact and can help with suggesting places to live. I also had the benefit of knowing a couple of prior placement students at my university who did a good job of describing the pros and cons of the area so I knew what to expect.

If you had one piece of advice for future placement students, what would it be?

Get involved with as much as you can – as a placement student you’re given a lot of freedom to go on things like short secondments and plant tours (something my line manager was very jealous of), so take advantage of this while you can.


Matthew

Process Engineering

Industrial Placement: Process Engineering

Current Profession: Process Engineering Placement Type: Industrial (Year-long)
Degree Discipline: Chemical Engineering University Attending: Loughborough University

 

Tell us about your time on the Industrial Placement Scheme..

I spent six months seconded to the AGR Storage Programme, working on some of the challenges involved with storing spent AGR fuel in the THORP ponds for the coming decades. Simply put, my work involved finding a way to effectively isolate a spent fuel container with contents that both expand/contract with temperature fluctuations as well as release hydrogen. It’s rewarding as an industrial placement student to be given real responsibility and know that your work has importance on a national scale.

Whilst seconded to AGR Storage Programme I was given the opportunity to lead several presentations in optioneering workshops. This experience was really useful when I successfully applied to become a Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Scholar earlier this year.

I became a STEM Ambassador and been involved in several activities during my placement, including a day-long event at Old Trafford as part of an international conference. The opportunity to get out of the office and support local students is something I have really enjoyed during my time with Sellafield.

Have you learnt anything during your Placement that you couldn’t have learnt from studying at University?

I have learnt a lot about what chemical engineers are required to produce at each stage of the design process, and how they interact with other disciplines. Little things like learning how to best layout a calculation or technical report are skills you don’t think about but you pick up really quickly.

What is the community like at Sellafield?

There is a large cohort of industrial placement students who are all in the same position as you, so it’s easy to meet new people. There are ‘Lunch and Learns’ for students to share what we’ve been doing with each other. The Risley based graduates arrange nights out in Manchester, and there are some activities which get advertised around weekly.

What attracted you to apply for a placement at Sellafield Ltd?

I had been interested in a career in the nuclear industry since school and so a placement at Sellafield seemed the best way to spend a year getting to know the industry and seeing if I liked it. As a chemical engineer, the challenges being tackled at Sellafield are completely unique so I knew I would get some good experience.

How did you find moving to a new location to complete your placement?

I live in Warrington, which is conveniently within walking distance for work but can be a problem if you’re getting back from Manchester or Liverpool after a night out. It’s cheaper than living in the city though, and I’ve been able to save some money that way.

If you had one piece of advice for future placement students, what would it be?

One of the greatest things about Sellafield is the extensive knowledge/experience that the people working around you have, so you can learn new things just by talking to them. Make the most of your time during the year – it goes so fast.