Hamish Clark, SCI Bristol and South West Group prize winner

1 August 2014

As part of my 4 year MSci degree in Chemistry with Industrial Experience at the University of Bristol, I have spent the year on an industrial placement at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). During the project I have been working in a team focussing on materials assessment, and I have undertaken research investigating the use of ultrasound to evaluate the thermal ageing of high density polyethylene (HDPE).

My time at AWE has been an exciting and very valuable experience. Working in a diverse research environment with highly qualified scientists has exposed me to a range of new ideas and radically transformed my perception of experimental science. The most valuable aspect of the experience for me has been the daily interactions with team colleagues. By engaging in technical discussions and listening to others’ experiences of research, I have developed generic problem solving skills, and the art of experimental design for testing hypotheses. From a technical perspective I have been studying ageing, which causes a proportion of the crystalline phase in HDPE to change, as shown using Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). With the assistance of my supervisor and a team of engineers at AWE, I have developed an ultrasonic testing technique to monitor the corresponding change in Young’s modulus, which provides a measure of the proportion of crystalline phase present. The final objective of this work is to optimise this technique to a level where it is possible to measure in-situ the change in crystallinity of HDPE with thermal ageing.

I’m delighted to have been awarded the SCI Bristol and South West regional group prize after my presentation about my work was awarded the highest mark in the Synthetic chemistry section of the University of Bristol Chemistry Department Mike Rothwell symposium, an annual event at which all students who have returned from a year in industry placement deliver a talk about their experience. I look forward to applying the knowledge and skills I have gained on my return to Bristol for my final year. .

Hamish Clark, SCI Bristol and South West Group prize winner
University of Bristol

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