Describe a typical day as a Nuclear Graduate:
I like to live close to work and save time on the commute. So I jump on my bicycle regardless of the weather and change at work. I have only worked in a regular office environment, and only visited the occasional site. At ONR, I wrote-up nuclear site inspection information and reviewed whether EDF had satisfied ONR’s civil engineering design assessment findings for Hinkley Point C. In all secondments, I primarily use Microsoft Office on a daily basis for stakeholder management, contract management, preparing for meetings and producing internal documents. At Arup I used GSA Finite Element software to analyse the forces in structures and produce reinforcement details in calculation reports. I worked on design for an attenuation tank on the Thames Tideway Sewer. I also worked on the HS2 rail project, where I produced a preliminary analysis on the settlement of bridges, overlying the proposed railway tunnel. At USNC, South Africa (an advanced modular reactor company) I performed a design basis analysis on the concrete reactor building to investigate the effect of transient heating of the concrete walls during a loss primary coolant and core cavity cooling. I used Python code and verified my results with finite element software. The frequency of meetings in BEIS and ONR is much higher than Arup and USNC, where most decisions were made through discussions at-desk.
How has the training provided by Nuclear Graduates helped with your professional development?
The two major benefits of Nuclear Graduates are; firstly, learning from different companies and being able to experience a wide range of things to establish what you enjoy and what you are good at. Secondly, there is excellent networking potential for you to build long standing relationships with people in the industry; mainly on the scheme but also at the many training events and conferences. The bonus is that you are able to do a secondment abroad, if you can organise something which benefits your development.
What is your magic moment in your time on the Nuclear Graduates programme?
On my first week at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, I was able to accompany the Hinkley Point C nominated inspector to site to review site safety procedures during construction. I was able to tour the enormous footprint of one of the largest budget construction projects in the world. The scale of the HPC, which will supply a significant proportion of the UKs electricity, left a great impression me.
What advice would you give a future Nuclear Graduate?
Look to secure secondments which broaden your own horizons and add value to your sponsor. This can mean dealing with uncertainty and managing peoples’ expectations, but you rarely get the opportunity to direct your interests like this. Working remotely from your sponsor and employers means you need to keep up constant communication so they are aware of your situation and you avoid any misunderstandings. Be ambitious and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zones in placements. But, always be diplomatic.