Since 2004, EPSRC has provided year-long placement opportunities for a number of Year in Industry (YINI) students. The YINI scheme is run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) which helps to place pre-university and university students in all areas of engineering, science, IT, e-commerce, business, marketing, finance and logistics. As this year’s YINI students come to the end of their placements, we ask for their perspective on what it was like to work at EPSRC, and what they have achieved.
The YINI students
- Alice Mitchell - Peer Review
- Carla Huynh - Healthcare Technologies
- Christopher Norris - Digital Services
- Tim Bradley - Building Leadership
- Helen Money-Kyrle ICT and Quantum Technologies
- Louise Munro-James - Accelerating Impact, Balancing Capability and Universities and Business Engagement
- Melih Manyera - Communications
- Xavier Crean - Mathematical Sciences and Living with Environmental Change (LWEC)
- Jacob Botterill - Performance and Evaluation
Team: Peer Review
Intended undergraduate degree: Biological Sciences, Durham University
Peer Review is at the heart of EPSRC’s business. All of our funding decisions are based on its principles, so getting involved with the EPSRC College, whose members are involved in Peer Review, has been a significant opportunity.
As part of the project to review the Peer Review College, I was tasked with creating a new college training package. EPSRC’s college training helps us to give advice on our policy, processes and best practice for our College members.
I enjoyed managing this challenging project in which I had to learn how to use new software. This software will allow EPSRC to manage the training in-house in the future to keep it up to date and timely, as well as delivering a cost benefit. I also took into account feedback from the existing training course to ensure an improvement in the usability and content of the new training.
Thank you to my team for giving me extensive responsibility this year. It has really given me the opportunity to develop my skills and, I hope, deliver valuable results.
Team: Healthcare Technologies
Intended undergraduate degree: Geophysics, Imperial College London
I’ve really valued my time at EPSRC; the amount of responsibility we’re given has been hugely beneficial for my personal development and I now feel so much more prepared for university and my future career. I’ve felt like a respected member of the Healthcare team and thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
A large part of my role this year has been producing data analytics for the Healthcare Technologies Strategic Advisory Team (SAT). This has involved looking at how the current health portfolio aligns with our newly launched strategy, identifying strengths and gaps in the Healthcare Technologies research landscape and has been utilised in our SAT Balancing Capability sessions. A particular highlight for me was presenting the results of a strategy dipstick I had been working on to the deputy CEO and Healthcare SAT (which includes highly respected university professors).
Team: Digital Services, Communications
Undergraduate degree: Environmental Science, Bristol UWE
During my placement, I worked with the Digital Services team who are responsible for formatting and uploading content to the EPSRC website. This involved assessing the site against corporate style guides and resolving errors.
I was also involved in an interesting project to build a new grants database for the Engineering team. I worked with colleagues to extract information from 1,300+ grant entries, and used Grants on the Web (GoW) to code them according to the equipment type used. Merging this information into a database then allowed us to produce a series of pivot tables using the data.
This database will be a useful resource for the Engineering team, allowing them to pull out trends (such as equipment distribution by University) which will be used in the ‘Roadmap for Infrastructure Investment’ report. After completing the database, Melih and I wrote a series of case studies about EPSRC-funded facilities such as CUBRIC, CLEVeR and CEIGR.
Team: Building Leadership
Intended undergraduate degree: Mechanical Engineering and Management, University of Manchester
My year in industry has been an incredible experience that has helped me develop both personally and professionally. I’ve developed an array of useful skills and (most notably) significantly increased my confidence in a working environment.
Studentships were included in the Balancing Capability project for the first time in 2016. I helped co-ordinate the coding process of these studentships, providing theme contacts with regular updates on progress, maintaining the tool used to code students, and improving data quality by ensuring as many records as possible had enough information for us to code them to internal research areas. This has had a direct impact on the Balancing Capability strategic goal, as it is now possible to directly address whether a research area has met it’s reduce, maintain, or grow target.
Many thanks to all of the staff at EPSRC who have made this year a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me – it really has been a pleasure!
Team: ICT and Quantum Technologies
Intended undergraduate degree: Materials Science and Engineering, Imperial College London
As a funder of research EPSRC wants to attract the best researchers possible, from the widest pool of talent. This year I’ve been looking at equality and diversity within the ICT research community, as well as being involved in EPSRC-wide projects to make sure that our processes are fair and inclusive.
One aspect of my role has involved analysing and presenting diversity data for the ICT Theme. This has been an interesting challenge, as the data we have available on applicants’ protected characteristics is often incomplete with a high proportion of
not disclosed submissions. The main challenge was applying an appropriate level of analysis which involved considering the suitability of different statistical tests from which to draw my conclusions.
I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with new people this year, and to develop a range of skills, whilst gaining a valuable insight into science and the research landscape in the UK.
Team: Accelerating Impact, Balancing Capability and Universities and Business Engagement
Intended undergraduate degree: Medicine, Cardiff University
As a YINI student at EPSRC the opportunity to experience new things and be involved in exciting and impactful work is always on offer. Working across a variety of teams has allowed me to contribute to many of EPSRC’s strategic goals, and to work on a number of cross-council projects. I have also been able to experience the research landscape from a range of different perspectives and meet researchers from Universities across the UK.
Mainly, this year I have been producing data and information to support future strategic decision making, for example, I have presented a detailed analysis of our portfolio of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships to help guide decisions about how funding may be best directed in the future.
I have very much enjoyed my year here and I really appreciate all the hard work that EPSRC’s staff have put into making this placement as diverse as possible for me.
Undergraduate degree: Information Technology Management for Business, Loughborough University
My year within the Communications team consisted of a variety of different projects including an Engineering database project, article write ups and the co-ordination of events and presentations.
One of the main projects that I have been involved in is the EPSRC Future Film project, which is a film used to promote EPSRC and show how the organisation as a whole contributes to the future of our society. As part of this project, I was required to collaborate with other colleagues in order to generate creative ideas to be included into the film.
My year at EPSRC has provided me with opportunities to gain experience in a real life working environment and develop my business skills even further. Many thanks to everyone at EPSRC who has made this possible.
Team: Mathematical Sciences and LWEC
Intended undergraduate degree: Physical Natural Sciences, Durham University
As part of my year in industry at EPSRC, I participated in three engagement workshops for the Mathematical Sciences: two in Birmingham, for pure maths and Mathematical Physics, and one in Leeds, for Applied Maths.
The workshops were run as part of the evidence gathering phase of Balancing Capability (one of EPSRC’s strategic aims) and because of this the Mathematical Sciences theme needed to obtain as much information from the cohorts of mathematicians as they could. The weapon-of-choice was sticky dots and the technique-of-choice was facilitation (literally meaning the act of making something easier). With an array of posters and thoughtfully designed sessions, the Mathematical Sciences theme effectively procured information while allowing the mathematicians to express their own opinions clearly.
It was a fantastic opportunity to improve my personal skills and meet some of the most influential British mathematicians. For this, I am very grateful. Thanks to everyone who made this year great especially the Mathematical Sciences and LWEC themes.
Team: Performance and Evaluation
Intended undergraduate degree: Natural Sciences, University College London
I have worked in the Performance and Evaluation team who aim to transform data and information into evidence and understanding. After meetings with themes across EPSRC, it was identified that there was a need for a clear international benchmarking resource to assist themes when looking to evaluate their research areas. My role was to research international benchmarking and draft a report ready for further discussions with themes. This resource helps themes identify the key questions which need to be answered by the benchmarking exercise and advises them of the most appropriate approach. The intention is that themes will consult this document and the wider evaluation toolkit when evaluating and reviewing their portfolios.
Over the last year I have learnt more about UK science policy and have found the areas of science which I am really interested in. This unique experience has not only informed my degree choice, but has given me the technical and soft skills necessary to excel in my future career.
Benefits to EPSRC
Why does EPSRC employ people at such an early stage of their careers? As demonstrated above, the YINI scheme is a way in which EPSRC can access talented, hardworking employees with fresh perspectives and ideas to make a valuable contribution to the organisation. These placements provide a springboard for young people to pursue their future careers, giving them the chance to get valuable work experience, develop new skills, and to gain a unique insight into the latest developments in the engineering and physical sciences.
Run by EDT, the YINI scheme scheme is the leading provider of UK-based work placements with over 300 top UK companies every year.