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June/July 2017 - Diary of a 40-year-old placement student

Unfortunately, the reality of juggling extra commitments alongside a placement and family life, means that occasionally something has to take a back seat. On this occasion, a rather comprehensive work schedule (as well as some long overdue decorating) left me little time to complete my blog.

The most intense period of work to date

As some of you may remember, my last diary entry mentioned an upcoming test milestone. Well, that milestone came around, bringing with it the most intense period of work so far and the steepest learning curve I have faced since my first week on the job.

Until now, the majority of my placement has been based around the daily practicalities of running tests and writing test reports. However, for this milestone, my responsibilities branched out to; coordinating and overseeing support from other departments, understanding and completing official conformity documents, and scheduling and managing a very tight programme of work. All this while hosting a senior Moog colleague from the USA, who was here to observe each step of this test milestone on behalf of the customer.

Well, I am pleased to report that, thanks to a substantial amount of planning and some last minute support from an outstanding bunch of colleagues, we managed to successfully complete this portion of the test. With our overseas colleague leaving safe in the knowledge that all of our testing was being done to the letter, we were free to begin the next test phase.

A big difference between university work and industry

One thing which prospective placement students will do well to keep in mind, is that while university work is generally set out in advance for the whole of the academic year; on placement, work schedules can change with very little notice, depending on the needs of the business. In addition to this, also be aware that, despite being there predominantly to learn, you may be asked to take charge of projects, rather than just support them.

Due to the intensity of this last test milestone, other projects had taken a back seat for a few weeks. However, just as I was about to pick these back up, another project came in which automatically took priority and having recently completed some similar testing, responsibility for running a new set of tests for this project fell at my door. This opened up a new opportunity to expand my knowledge, as this involved understanding and analysing how factors, such as manufacturing processes, can affect material properties.

Until this point in my placement, my working day had stayed within standard office hours. However, as this test required manual input at 2-4 hr intervals for several days at a time, my colleagues and I devised a schedule of out of hours cover, with us each having responsibility for particular timeslots.

Preparing my final placement report

As I only have six weeks of my placement left, I have also started preparing my final placement report, which I will need to present to my university in September. As well as evidencing how much I have learnt and how I have applied that knowledge, this is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on how much I have developed, both professionally and personally since starting my placement.

On the subject of university, one thing I will need to do over the coming weeks is revisit my lecture material from last year, as this will give me the best possible start to the year by not having to spend the first few weeks getting up to speed. To ensure this is as effective as possible, I will concentrate on my weaker subjects first, as these are likely to be the deciding factors on the final classification of my degree.

Great news to share!

Before I go, I have a brief addendum to my last diary entry. When I stated that we looked set to double our target of £1,000 for Promise Dreams, I did not imagine that we could have exceeded it by the amount we did. When Promise Dreams came in to count up the grand total, we were amazed to hear that we had raised a staggering £2,700!

We were also extremely proud and humbled to hear that our money was being used to purchase two specially adapted trikes for twin boys who had suffered brain damage at birth. Once again, thank you to those of you who supported us and made this possible.