On my gap year (before starting university) I got a job through Year in Industry with an engineering company called Sterling Hydraulics. I also worked there during the summer holiday after my 1st year at uni. In the summer after 2nd year I worked on a research project at the University of Bristol.
University of Bristol
I am doing a PhD (a 3 year research project) looking at how to use the heat from the sun to make things cold
People have got used to having fridges in their houses, and being able to switch on the air conditioning when it gets hot outside. The process that makes things cold is called a refrigeration cycle and needs to be connected to electricity to work. But in some parts of the world, there is not much electricity available, and these parts of the world often are hot places too (for example Africa). So my project is looking at how we can use the heat from the sun to power a refrigeration cycle, so that everyone who needs a fridge or air conditioning can have it.
One of the other benefits of using the sun instead of electricity is that it is a renewable source of energy and doesn’t cause any pollution. So even in places where there is a lot of electricity, solar refrigeration could help us to pollute less, save money, and fight climate change.
However, solar refrigeration is quite a new idea so lots of people are researching how to improve it. My project is looking at how to test the cycle more easily in a small laboratory before it can be developed into a real fridge.
My Typical Day
It varies depending on what I feel like doing, and what needs doing.
As I am doing one big research project (a PhD), I get to decide what I do and when. My project is split into three main parts:
Find out what progress other people are making with solar refrigeration. Mostly I do this by reading journal articles (like write-ups of their experiments that get published in engineering magazines);
Design and run some experiments to test how well solar refrigeration works. I am only given a little bit of money to do this, so I have to make sure my experiments aren’t too big and expensive.
Make a computer model of a system using solar refrigeration. I use a computer program to model how well solar air conditioning cools down a building, for example a school classroom in Africa. This modelling part of my project is important so that people can easily find out how well solar refrigeration works in different situations without having to spend lots of time and money doing lots of tests.
So each day I get to choose how I spend my time.Some days I stay at my computer trying to get my model to work properly, other days I go down to my laboratory and make the equipment for my experiments. Soon I will be spending more time in the lab running my experiments (that’s the bit I am really looking forward to!)
I have a supervisor (like a teacher) who makes sure I am not doing silly things and that I am working hard enough. In my office there are a few other people researching solar refrigeration, and a lot of people researching other things, so it is interesting to talk to them and find out what they are doing sometimes too.
What I'd do with the money
I would give it to my local school so that they can take part in international student conferences about climate change.
My local school are working with other schools in Europe to look at how climate change is affects the students. Each year they will have a conference for the students in one of the schools. During the comference, all of the students can talk about climate change and how it might affect them, and come up with ways of minimising the negative effects.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Quiet, considerate, indecesive
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Designed a winning vending machine as a project at university
What did you want to be after you left school?
I couldn’t decide between lawyer, psychologist and engineer until after my GCSEs, but now I love eningeering
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Spend a year studying in France
Tell us a joke.
Why did the urchin blush? Because the sea weed. (I know – I’m not very good at jokes)