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Turning your science background into a career in Engineering

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

After being unsure on his career aspirations throughout his time at sixth form and the first year of his degree, Olly entered second year looking to hone his skills that would apply to engineering. Eventually joining Frazer-Nash Consultancy as a summer student civil nuclear engineer, he explains how he turned his science background into a career in engineering.

Olly Bridges HPB (1)

What made you want to work in nuclear and why Frazer-Nash Consultancy?

During my third year, on study abroad, I took a course in nuclear physics. The lecturer for the module was extremely passionate, he saw I had interest in my engagement with the content as well as potential and encouraged me to explore the industry further. After only a short search, you find that a headline of the nuclear industry is setting yourself up with a ‘career for life’, to anyone sensible this is a no-brainer! From looking at the work of nuclear engineers you find that it is an interesting application of STEM to the real world, with real, future-proof impacts.

Frazer-Nash is an industry leader in systems, engineering, and technology, and the company’s core values strongly resonate with my own personal principles. “We deliver success” is a strong commitment, yet confident, something I am myself. The people of Frazer-Nash Consultancy really do care. And as a scientist by background, their focus on the environment and sustainability that forms the DNA of the company is inspiring. Moreover, my first project was challenging but interesting work that made a real difference to a safety critical system, and I was fully trusted to complete the work.

What is your academic background?

I took A-Levels in Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry, which led me into studying Natural Sciences with International Study at University. As part of my degree, I study everything and anything, from biology, chemistry, physics, maths and even some computer science. Module choices take me from quantum mechanics to ecology, physical chemistry to differential equations, bioinformatics to vector calculus, and why not throw some organic chemistry in there too!

What are the skills and attributes that have helped you most in getting into engineering with a science-based background?

Though science and engineering are two distinct fields, they are inextricably linked. Many skills required in engineering are interwoven with those underpinning science. My scientific background primed a strong problem-solving skillset along with computer skills and meticulous attention to detail, which are quintessential in the 21st century. Working under pressure and interpersonal skills are crucial and just one of the ways I continually improve these skills is through part time work along with sports and university work.

Skills not interlinked between science and engineering include commercial awareness and technical knowledge. These skills are something you must develop in your own time through passion and inquisitiveness, which came naturally to me as I really enjoyed delving into the world of nuclear.

Working at a consultancy requires tact, persuasive ability, and presentation skills, all I found were easily developed by putting myself into situations that were initially uncomfortable to me but that my confidence quickly grew with practise.

How was the onboarding process at Frazer-Nash?

As part of onboarding and induction at Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Summer and Year-In-Industry students were invited down to the Bristol office to take part in the Insight and Discovery Day. During the day, there were a mixture of activities including ice breakers, a creative task, and Q&A sessions. But for me, the highlight of the day was the ‘Meet the Directors’ session. This session allowed us to ask directors any questions that we had, to which they openly answered each question with genuine honesty. The directors also sat with us in the lunch hour to have general chats too, which was a pleasant surprise.