Vulcan Laser Sandwich Student - Placement

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
09 Oct 2018
06 Nov 2018
Start Date
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe's largest research organisations. We're trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we're driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering.

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

The Vulcan high power laser is part of the Central Laser Facility situated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK. It is an ultra-high intensity laser interaction facility that provides a service to both national and international university-based research groups, allowing them to conduct experiments in the field of plasma physics. Vulcan is one of the most powerful lasers in the world, and is under continuous development to maintain its world-class status - this includes work in adjoining laboratories.

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

It is envisaged that over the year, time within this role will be shared between development projects and operating the laser or providing support to the laser programme.

Development Project: Vulcan is already a sophisticated and complex machine with many optical, mechanical and electronic sub systems. The post holder will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of new elements into the Vulcan laser system to enhance system performance and testing for Laser upgrades. This may involve constructing optical hardware, characterisation and optical design work and/or software development.

Vulcan Operations: You will join the Vulcan Laser Operations Group as part of a small team working in a friendly atmosphere, contributing to the success of experiments making this a world leading facility. For more information on the Central Laser Facility visit

Some basic knowledge of lasers and optics is required. The ideal applicant would have an interest in this field, and demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level. Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is also highly desirable.

You must be computer literate, having at least a working knowledge of MS Office applications (primarily Word, Excel and PowerPoint). They should be self-motivated and able to communicate easily with colleagues and have the ability to work within a small team.

Shortlisting and Interview Criteria

  • at university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry (S)
  • right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • first two years of degree course in physics, or a closely related subject, with grades corresponding to a 2:1 or higher.
  • A-level Maths or equivalent
  • A-level Physics or equivalent.

  • A-level Computing or further Maths.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • basic optics
  • experimental physics laboratory course
  • experience of standard computer packages (e.g. Office).

  • knowledge of one programming language (e.g. Visual Basic, C++, MATLAB)
  • experience working in a research or laboratory environment
  • knowledge of laser/optical theory and optical modelling techniques/software.

Personal Skills, Qualities and Attributes

  • effective written and verbal communication skills
  • demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • the willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • open minded and flexible in relation to the type of work assigned to them
  • highly motivated and able to work independently
  • good problem-solving skills
  • responsible approach to health and safety.

Special Requirements
  • This role will involve working in tight spaces where access is restricted and will involve standing for extended periods. Successful candidates will also be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves and a face mask

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at .

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people - and more broadly to the world.

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