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Engineering Intern
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I decided to do a placement for several reasons. Probably most importantly, I am convinced that gaining practical experience is key to increasing one’s employability in the highly competitive field of engineering. Furthermore, I was really keen to finally get to test my skills when dealing with a real life challenge rather than textbook problem. From an educational perspective I wanted to practice all the soft skills, which I don’t necessarily get to use in a university setting. On top of that there are also other reasons which influenced my decision to do a placement at NuScale specifically. Having chosen a master’s degree in the very specific field of nuclear engineering, I wanted to make sure that this is actually what I want to do in the future. As far as nuclear goes it is hard to find a company implementing more novel and interesting solutions than NuScale. Finally the fact that the scheme offered by NuScale meant working in a new environment and experiencing a professional culture of a different country was also a factor when making my final decision.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Careers fair

Application process

The application process for NuScale is incredibly simple as it only requires submitting a cover letter, along with a CV and recommendation letter.

Main responsibilities

At work I was undertaking a project which resulted in producing an engineering study, which was to be used in the company’s future design activities. I was working directly with my supervisor. My responsibilities included:
- Performing a literature survey in the field of thermodynamics
- Writing computer codes to perform thermodynamic analyses
- Working with the Mechanical Engineering Group to establish details of the analysed designs and retrieve the required information
- Taking part in meetings with supervisors to update on progress and receive feedback
- Suggesting and modelling design changes. Assessing their impact and providing recommendations for design changes
- Meeting with external partners to discuss the project and its future development
- Preparing documentation

Typical day

My work at NuScale was mostly desk based. I would spend most of my time performing thermodynamic calculations and analyses using designated software. I would also spend a lot of my time learning, as my job required some very specific knowledge. I would meet my supervisor nearly every day to discuss update him on the progress and receive help in dealing with the challenges I have faced. He often spent more than an hour explaining engineering concepts to me or discussing possibilities to improve my code.
About once every two weeks I would participate in the engineering development program meetings were renowned experts in the field would deliver lectures and facilitate discussions about various aspects of nuclear engineering. These included among others: energy storage for peak demand, nuclear safety analysis, nuclear safety systems and system scaling.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

Overall the experience of NuScale was incredibly rewarding and very enjoyable. There were two aspects of my experience with the company, which I particularly enjoyed. The first was the working culture of NuScale and the attitude of executives and supervisors to other employees. Everyone in the company was incredibly respectful and polite. Everyone’s work was valued and credit was given for good performance. I found it very satisfying that upon arrival I was introduced to several executives including the CTO and CNO (Chief Nuclear Officer) and later had the opportunity to talk to them several more times.
The other aspect I really enjoyed was the attitude of my supervisor. As he explained to me on the first day the primary goal of my placement was learning and developing new skills. This meant that both him and several other employees would do their best to help develop my potential and improve my understanding of concepts fundamental for the NuScale SMR design. They would spend time explaining the both the details of engineering concepts and their role in the company to give me a good understanding of what nuclear engineering is all about.

Challenging aspects

The most challenging aspect of the placement was the fact that I was solely responsible for the work I was doing and had to make several key decisions regarding it. While my supervisor was very helpful and provided a lot of guidance at the end of the day it was my responsibility to make the final calls regarding my project. This was a very rewarding experience but often quite challenging and requiring taking a certain amount of risk.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

As my placement was technical I had to apply a lot of the skills I learned at university. As the nature of my work was analytical rather than design oriented I used most of the thermodynamics theory and application I covered in my university course.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

The placement has definitely been a very important experience in terms of helping me choose a future career path. It helped me understand how work at a real engineering firm looks like and what nuclear engineering is really about. It definitely helped me understand what are some of the things I would like to do in the future and conversely, what are the paths I rather wouldn’t take.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

My first, most important piece of advice for other students - take part in a placement! I can say with confidence that during my 13 weeks at NuScale Power I learned more useful things than in my whole first year of university.
Doing a placement really helps to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses. It is also very helpful in deciding what career path to choose after graduating.
While already on placement it is really important to be inquisitive. Other, more senior employees are usually willing to help and share their experience, but they won’t do it if you never approach them and ask.

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Form completed: 02 Sep 2017

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