Scientific Software Engineer at Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Placement Year (10 Months+)
Harwell South East
Review Date
£16,000 - £17,999
Computer Science Physics

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The Role



The Role

Role Description

Maintain and add features to the Neutronic/Muonic data analysis software 'Mantid'

1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?

This is a really interesting site to work on, with a lot of really incredible work going on all over the campus. I got to work on a very well organised bit of open-source software which allowed me to understand some of the science and research that happens on campus.


2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?

Ideas for fixing problems in the software were always up for discussion, even if they weren't necessarily the best option for the job; which made me feel valued as a colleague.


3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?

The management system at ISIS was very relaxed and usually you can just talk to your line manager at any time, sometimes a meeting with have to be organised but this was still very informal.


4. How busy were you on a daily basis?

The deadlines for software fixes where quite flexible, on the off-chance that a deadline HAD to be met, there was enough support there to get it done on time.


5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?

I feel as though the work and responsibilities that I was given were tailored well to my experience and skills, such that I was never too far out of my depth.


6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

The skills I developed while working at ISIS will definitely be useful throughout my career as a Software-engineer. I found that the approach that was adopted by my team for a new starter was very good, it was essentially a week of training and then thrown right into some easy fixes. This allowed me to get to grips with learning some new languages (C++, Python, XML etc) and also understand a bit more about what service Mantid provides as a piece of software.


The Organisation

7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?

I think the atmosphere in the office was quite normal for a team of software engineers. There were a lot of times where the office was very quiet due to every one focused on separate tasks, however it didn't have to be that way and people often talked among themselves without any bother from the rest of the staff.


8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?

It could have been smoother, however I don't believe that this is the STFCs fault. Most of the administration for the company is done by an external body and so the process of setting up a new placement student was drawn out a bit longer.


9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

There are lectures about the specific areas of science on site that are given by leading researchers that you can attend to gain more knowledge about the field that you're working in.

A lot of the training and development that I participated in was voluntary, obviously some people don't want to be a part of this process so they can opt out. But as far as the training you could opt in for, I was very impressed.


10. What were the perks on your work placement?

  • Flexi Time
  • Subsidised Canteen
  • Sports and Social Club
  • Subsidised/Company Gym
  • Company Parties/Events
  • Above 25 days holiday

11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?

The prospects for future employment are very good. There is a 2-year 'Graduate Scheme' at the STFC for after you have finished your Degree (and masters) which, in most cases, results in a permanent place at the STFC.



12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?

I found that the social experience outside of work was mainly based on where you lived. I was quite some time away from the other placement students, which meant I couldn't participate in as many out-of-work activities as other students. However, in work, everyone was very friendly and you could talk to any of the placement students. (We're all in the same boat afterall)


13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?

Unfortunately living in Oxfordshire was slightly more expensive than I had anticipated (previously coming from Manchester). This was compensated somewhat by the pay from the job however, rent was still very expensive.


14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?

If you're looking for a decent night out then unfortunately you may have to travel into Oxford city centre as many of the surrounding villages/towns are filled with local pubs. However, if that's you're thing then I can recommend Abingdon as being a good place to live during the placement.


15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?

The Recreational Society at ISIS is very good at providing activities and events outside of work and there is always something for everyone. If you don't think they cater for your needs, then you can set up your own club for the activities you like to do.