Nicola Sweeny: BSc Sports Science and Physiology

Industrial Placement working at QinetiQ

"I worked within the Human Protection and Performance Enhancement Business Group. The facilities within this group include thermal chambers, a centrifuge, biomechanics and motion/vibration labs and a hypobaric chamber. As a student we are officially placed in one group, however, we have the opportunity to get involved across the different facilities.

Shortly after joining I had to complete a hypoxia run. This involves taking the hypobaric chamber to an altitude of 25,000ft, removing the oxygen mask and completing an easy task sheet. It takes about 2-3 minutes for you to struggle when performing simple arithmetic or writing your own name and address. It's a really good experience, however, incredibly important for pilots or those working in the chamber to be aware of their own symptoms if they are becoming hypoxic due to a leaking oxygen mask or inadequate oxygen supply.

Although this placement is not directly related with my degree programme it involves a lot more practical work which I have found useful in terms of laboratory equipment and practice.

A lot of the work that QinetiQ does is with the MOD so I have been able to have a look around some fast jets and get kitted up in all the gear! I also spent a 5 week stint in Germany working on a project, so had a few free weekends to experience the local area!

If I had the choice to do it again I would still take this year out. Although it has been a big change it has also been fun and I still get to go back to the student environment next year.

If you decide to do a placement and know other students are also doing a placement at the company you have applied to, think about trying to live together. I’m living with 3 other students and it’s such a bonus as we’re all in the same boat. Also find out where people from your work tend to live as it makes it makes it so much easier for social activities!"