Research Support Officer – Environment & Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter

Universtiy of Exeter Internships, UoE Internships, SCP, SBP, GBP, A2I

What were your main duties and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

I was assigned a single large research project, which loosely interlinked with a broader initiative being built and managed by four other GBP interns, however I was very much trusted to work independently. The outline of the idea – which involved prototyping new environmental monitoring methods to be used by the Institute as well as agencies like the Environment Agency – was presented to me by my supervisor, and I was essentially just told to try and make the project work and get a full working example system up and running which we could showcase to potential stakeholders. This meant a large amount of self-teaching of new practical skills – especially computer engineering at all levels – in order to make progress with the project.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

I rapidly taught myself a variety of new programming languages as well as some moderately complex electronics, which given my background as an evolutionary biologist / ecologist was very much out of my comfort zone.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I extensively explored the potential of the new hardware we were experimenting with, and certainly stirred up interest in potential collaborators such as the Environment Agency, however I was not able to complete the project to anything like the level we initially envisaged, and have had to leave the work half-way through completion.

Did you encounter any problems during the course of your internship and if so, how did you overcome them?

The core problem was trying to do what amounts to electrical and software engineering in an institute which is both very young and has no background in this work. As such, there was not the necessary space and equipment necessary for this type of creative prototyping, where rapid access to components was available in order to test what would work and could then be ordered in bulk. Unfortunately despite my best efforts, setting up something of that ilk was outside the control of a temporary intern.