Rob's profile

Rob Garner graduated with a Physics with Space Science and Technology MPhys (1st class) in 2014. The interview below was taken with Rob at the end of his fourth year.

So - which degree did you do?

When I started in first year, I was studying on the BSc Physics program - but after a few lectures (across the whole range of different flavours), I decided I wanted to specialise in Physics with Space Science and Technology instead; and it was a simple affair to change course.

What else have you got up to during your time here?

rob-garner.jpgI spent a lot of time involved with the Astronomy and Rocketry Society in the department. I was the President of AstRoSoc in the 2013-2014 year, and Chief Rocketeer for the previous two years. It looks great on my CV, and I also got to meet lots of likeminded people and go to some great events.

This last year, together with UKSEDS (UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space), AstRoSoc hosted the National Student Space Conference at Leicester, which saw many of the greatest space companies, academics and organisations in the UK come to the University to talk about  current projects and career opportunities. Over 200 students from across the country attended the weekend and watched lectures given by representatives from Reaction Engines Limited, the UK Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space.

Did you live in halls?

During my first year, I lived in John Foster Halls. Living in halls was a great way to meet a group of people in similar circumstances to me, from a range of backgrounds and courses. I could live independently, whilst still being able to ignore cooking and paying bills. After that, I lived in rented student accommodation in Clarendon Park Road. This is about 10 minutes from the University, and a large number students live here. Queens road hosts takeaways, bars, shops - and there's a large Morrisons close to the University (they do great meat!).

How about projects and work experience?

My 4th year Specialist Research project was on ‘Networks of Environmental Sensors’. Quite different from space science (it's possible to do projects from any degree flavour), but it gave me some great experience, was enjoyable and led to some work experience in the summer of 2014. In fact, I’ve managed to do some work experience every summer I have been at the university.

The first two times I did this by approaching a member of the faculty directly, something that is easy with the department’s open door policy. Last summer I was selected to go to the Center for Space Nuclear Research in Idaho, USA (expenses paid) to work with a team from all over the world on a business plan for Nuclear Thermal Rockets. This led to presenting our work at a conference, ‘Nuclear Emerging Technologies for Space’ in New Orleans, and hopefully at the International Astronautical Congress in Toronto in September – one of the biggest space engineering conferences in the world. This work experience stands out on my CV, and is also something to talk about in interviews.

In your opinion what are the best things about the department?

My favourite things are the common room and the open-door policy. The former is a great way to socialise with other students within Physics and Astronomy, not just in your year, and I’ve also used it for studying during exam season. The open-door policy means that you can knock on the door of any member of staff, and ask them about any problems you’re having with the course, or if you are interested, their research interests. This is also a useful way of making contacts for research projects in the latter years of the degree course, and sometimes work experience opportunities.

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