Robert Atkinson, MEng Mechanical Engineering

Geography student Samantha Gray, worked with Lancaster based company Simply Ecology as part of the Science and Technology Internship Programme.

What is the qualification and degree discipline that you are studying towards?

"Mechanical Engineering."

What year have you just completed?

"My third year."

Why did you apply for the internship that you are currently undertaking?

"During third year I worked with the company on a 2 week industry-led project as part of the ENGR 445 module. This gave me a good idea of what the company was about, their area of expertise and how they like to operate. So when the opportunity came to work with them further over summer I jumped at the opportunity."

What does your internship project require you to do day-to-day?

"As the project progressed, the main focus and daily requirements gradually changed as most projects do. At first I was mainly undertaking research into sensor technology and compiling the useful information in a kind of literature review. Then with the parts I had ordered a lot of time was invested in setting up the prototype device for testing, after the results were obtained the project has focused on evaluating the results in a report and considering how the full system could be implemented in the real world."

What skills have you learnt or developed as a consequence of undertaking this internship?

"The internship has significantly improved my communication skills in the area of weekly report updates with the company, as business calls are not something that I have really had to do before. The differences between university projects and internship projects like this have shown me how important it is to gain some real world experience."

Has there been anything that particularly surprised you or you weren’t expecting?

"With the increased responsibility of a real project I gained a lot of motivation to dig far deeper into all aspects of the project to really make sure the right decisions were made and everything progressed well."

Would you recommend internships to fellow students and if so, why?

"Definitely, it is so important to gain this kind of experience before finishing your degree, as a good grade alone isn’t enough anymore. On top of that it gives you the opportunity to see the kind of jobs you may be undertaking after university and the best way of finding what you enjoy is to experience them first hand."

"Mechanical Engineering students Tom and Robert have previously collaborated with Harkness Screens on an intensive two-week student team project. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with them individually on two separate 10 week long projects through Lancaster University Faculty of Science and Technology Internship Programme.

I found the experience stimulating, rewarding and intellectually profitable. Both Tom and Robert offered access to personal skills and scientific facilities that are not readily available to small businesses such as Harkness Screens when researching new and innovative ideas."

David Harrison, Chief Technical Officer and Director Harkness Screens (UK) Ltd

"I head up our Rewarding Innovation team at haleys business advisers. One of our areas of expertise is helping our clients find the appropriate input level to develop an idea to the next phase, so they can make informed commercial decisions. Internships are a great mechanism for companies such as our client, Harkness Screens, to focus on the specific tasks which help them to realise a greater strategy.

Having worked closely with industrial partners during my degrees, it feels like I’ve come full circle. I can see the benefit from the company’s perspective and from the students as they continue to develop their technical and commercial skills. As a Lancaster Alumni, I have really enjoyed collaborating with the Engineering Department again. The staff are very knowledgeable and have been incredibly helpful in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable process from start to finish. It’s also great to see that they continue to produce top, quality graduates."

Dr Nilla Karlsen-Davies, Chief Technical Analyst, haleys business advisers