Longstanding partners TWI and Brunel University London have together helped more than 50 students begin their careers with leading science and technology companies.
Through the ground-breaking Brunel Innovation Centre (BIC), established in 2009, the two organisations have been able to forge a conduit between academia and industry. Work placements give students real-world experience that enables them to make the transition from able researchers and investigators into young professionals, who have been sought out by top organisations including Rolls-Royce and QinetiQ.
Unsurprisingly, given TWI's focus, students at BIC predominantly come from engineering disciplines. Most come from Brunel, with a handful from the University of Surrey, as well as a small number of internship students from mainland Europe.
Students at BIC spend their placement year at TWI's Cambridge headquarters, where they often closely collaborate with Plant Integrity, a subsidiary of TWI and specialist in long-range ultrasonic guided wave testing. They have been instrumental in industrialising the award-winning guided wave technology used by the company, which has seen applications across industry sectors including oil and gas, power generation and transport.
Students typically enter a one-year contract with BIC as project technical assistants, and then have the opportunity to work on BIC, Plant Integrity or TWI research projects, determined by the needs of industry. They work alongside a project team, where they are immediately given responsibilities and assume a key role.
In addition to working in a professional, corporate environment, where they experience office culture, attend meetings, present results and run experiments in state-of-the-art lab facilities, students get to contribute to research output through industrial and academic publications, giving them credibility and valuable experience at a very early stage of their professional development.
At the end of their one-year work placement, students return to university to finish their undergraduate programme. When they graduate, they are ready to face the challenges of industry, and already have a better idea of what they would like to do next.