Kallan, Graduate Scientist

How long have you worked at AWE?
3 months

Why did you choose AWE?- what attracted you?
AWE is a very respected and reputable establishment. It offers a wide range of potential placements for STEM graduates and allows you to move around the company in such a way that you can really garner experience in areas you’d like to try. I had a friend that did a placement year here, and only had good things to say about his time. That set the bar pretty high for me when I started work, and I’m very happy to say that AWE has surpassed my expectations!
Being a physics graduate, the work that AWE does fascinates me, and there’s vast opportunity to work on things you might never get a chance to do at any other company in the country.  I’ve had a long-standing interest in science (since secondary school) and I find my work here fulfils that passion.

Tell us about your time at AWE?- What do you do?
Currently I’m working on a project which will contribute towards Nuclear Threat Reduction. I’ve been doing a bit of mathematics and coding, and a good amount of statistical analysis too. I’m really happy with where my project is going and it’s starting to look like I’ll have a great result by the end of this placement.

What’s the best thing about working in the STEM industry?
For me, it’s the constant challenge it presents to my brain. I never find myself sitting bored when I’ve got a difficult problem to wrap my head around, and although I end some days feeling a little “brain fried”, the satisfaction when you solve a puzzle or finally understand something new can’t be beaten in my book.

Who inspired you to have a career in STEM?
I watched a lot of science documentaries when I was younger, some of the most fascinating of which (to me) were the Brian Cox documentaries “Wonders of the Solar System/Universe”. That pushed me to initially try out some physics, and the more I studied and learnt, the more I loved it. My family were incredibly supportive and are very proud of where I’ve come.

How do you see your career progressing?
I’d love to settle properly into an area at AWE and begin progressing up the ladder once I’ve finished my placements. I think it’d be an incredible feeling to become knowledgeable and experienced in my given area and be able to use this regularly in the work that I do.

Why are events such as British Science Week so important?
I found my interest in science through seeing the work that others were doing, and the discoveries science can make. I think that events such as BSW are very important for showcasing STEM, what the field is capable of and the hard work of the people within it. One thing I feel lucky to have had is a lot of role-models in STEM when I was growing up. I think it’s important to carry that on to the next generation, especially for groups who are currently underrepresented in STEM.
I know through my collaboration work,  how important it is to get different perspectives on things. Often, I might not see the best solution to a problem simply because I’ve not noticed or identified everything I needed to. Having a diverse range of perspectives is so important, and therefore it’s vital that we have a diverse workforce in STEM.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in STEM?
Push yourself and keep going. STEM can be very difficult at times, and I think one massive difficulty I struggled with, is how closely related two subjects can be to one another. I love physics, but always found maths a little more difficult. Pushing myself to achieve well in maths wasn’t easy, but it got me to where I want to be and I’m very proud of how hard I worked to get here. Everyone has their difficulties at times, the important thing is to work hard and keep your mind on your destination!