Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Posts By: Steven Lawrence

Freshers' Week for the mildly awkward

  

📥  Undergraduate

It’s loud. It’s fast. It begins with a tearful goodbye to your parents and ends hungover at 9am in a lecture hall wondering why you didn’t just take a gap year instead. It’s Freshers’ Week, and for some people, it’s far from their ideal week.

Personally, I knew it was going to be a hard week to get through before it started. I’m not a heavy drinker, clubs are a bit too loud for me and meeting so many new people in so little time sounded a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, I still wanted to make friends. I still wanted to enjoy my time. You’re only ever a Fresher once, they say.

Moving in takes place over the first weekend. I moved in early on Saturday, and despite having to wake up at 7am and leave the comfort of my own bed, it was worth the extra effort. Being the first in your accommodation means you can meet people as they trickle in. You have time to settle in and breathe, you can help others with their luggage and you can get to know your flatmates one by one. For someone who’s not as outgoing in group conversations, this was a huge plus. One of my flatmates brought along a few biscuit cans full of homemade brownies to share, and though it didn’t occur to me beforehand, it definitely seemed like a good way to be friendly with your flat without having to utter a single word.

Chocolate, a quick way to anyone's heart

With the weekend out of the way, it was time to get down and dirty. Our Eastwood house consisting of eleven guys (at least the toilet seat’s always up) managed to fill one of our three fridges entirely with beer.  It was a magnificent sight to behold even if my stomach did tremble a bit. There’s a lot to do during Freshers’ week even if you don’t have a hankering for hops though. Every night there are two films shown around campus and on Monday it was Guardians of the Galaxy 2, my favourite movie (I know, I have very refined tastes). Seeing that on a big screen, I wouldn’t miss it for anything, not even ‘the sesh’. ‘But it’s the sesh!’ my flatmates exclaimed. ‘But it’s Baby Groot! I replied and away I was. I did worry that I might’ve alienated my flatmates a bit by missing out on the first big night out, and throughout the week I did make conscious attempts to not be M.I.A or in my room for too long, but ultimately I realised that even if you don’t go out with your flat every night, and you don’t sit down to have dinner with them everyday, they will still like you.

There are a range of activities during the day such as arts & crafts, yoga sessions and city tours. If you can summon up the energy to venture out into the cold wilderness of not your room, you can find something happening on campus at all times, guaranteed. Everything from going around collecting freebies from the Freshers’ fair to going around a second time and hoping they don’t recognise you. The struggle is perhaps not finding things to do, but people to do them with. For most people coming out of secondary school, it might’ve been two or three years since you’ve had to make new friends. Maybe you don’t even remember how your closest friends became your closest friends. Whatever the case may be, tagging them in memes and looking at their Snapchat story just isn’t a substitute for real human interaction, so reluctantly, even the most mildly awkward of us will have to put ourselves out there.

It’s funny how relationships form during the first few weeks of university. Some don’t make it through the initial test as they shake your hand and tell you they’re from Chippenham and you have to nod and pretend you know where that is. Some seem to be just fine until they say the fatal words ‘Oh I live in Quads’ and you can’t look the poor guy in the eye because now you’re just in it for a beanbag. Most don’t turn out to be lifelong friendships you expect to make at university, so if you’re a bit disappointed that your life isn’t like a scene out of Friends, don’t fret.

Once Freshers’ Week is over, you’ll realise that it wasn’t such a painfully awkward experience after all. Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses. Maybe it’s the fact you actually have lectures now (like whaaat?). It might even be, god forbid, because it was actually quite fun and everyone was in the exact same terrifying, unfamiliar situation as you.

 

HPC Supply Chain Innovation Placement Blog- Post 2

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📥  School of Management

Welcome back! My second blog will give you an insight in to the three areas of work I focused on during in my time with EDF Energy in Bristol at the Delivery Command Centre (DCC) for the HPC project. Being present during visits from the EDF Energy CEO, the French ambassador and other VIPs, the newly built DCC is a hive of activity; but this blog won’t just be confined to the office: with my team keen for me to get out and about, I have a few interesting events/visits to tell you about.

International Supply Chain Management

I had the unique opportunity to work personally with the International Supply Chain Lead on the HPC Project. With the French energy giant EDF assuming a 66.5% share and China's CGN having a 33.5% stake, HPC is the definition of international collaboration. I was able to see how the complex global supply networks were formed, managed and developed on a daily basis. The complexity is quite overwhelming at first, but fascinating when you start to delve deeper. The aim of the game was to bring international suppliers in to the HPC procurement process to: increase competition amongst suppliers, decipher previous EPR learning and offer fresh perspectives. I was able to put into practice the soft skills I had developed at Bath that were relatable to the international components of my degree.

When a last minute opportunity arose to attend a Team Building event in Paris between EDF UK, EDF France and EDF China, I couldnt believe my luck. After quickly scrambling an overnight bag together, I found myself in Paris listening to how the HPC international supply chain can learn extensively from the two ongoing EPR projects close to completion in France (Flamanville 3) and in China (Taishan). I got the chance to visit FA3 recently (see picture below) and in my next blog will divulge the details.

Taishan, in China, taking shape

Me (left) with my mentor at Flamanville 3

Similarly, I accompanied the HPC International Supply Chain Lead to the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017, organised by the UK Government Department for International Trade. The two day event took place at a London hotel hosting international delegates, industry experts, politicians and CEOs to promote the revival of the UK nuclear industry. It was particularly interesting to appreciate the perspectives of the Japanese and German delegates/companies, given their recent abrupt scale back in nuclear production. Seeing the other side of the debate is always worthwhile, whether in agreement or not.

Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox delivering a key note speech at the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017

Contract Management

During my time in Bristol (and London) I worked in the field of Contract Management across three varied contract formats.  I helped roll out newly developed contract management software in the Project Management Office team, giving me an oversight of how the HPC project was managed from a resource perspective. I also worked on a high value Balance of Nuclear Plant contract, helping with the day to day management of the contract. Towards the end of my placement, my team leader sent me to London to spend time with the Institutional Contract team to observe how the institutional contracts between NNB and EDF Energy, EDF, CGN and UK Government are arranged, governed and managed on a daily basis. Developing a deeper understanding of how the international stakeholders relationships are structured, gave substance to the strategy, organisation and culture modules undertaken during my first two years at the University of Bath.

A few stats about HPC

Financial Management

Aware of my interest in the Financial Management of the HPC Project, my manager arranged for me to spend time working with the financial controls team in London. Working with the financial tools and models used to manage a project of this magnitude was an eye opening experience. I was immediately struck by the sheer financial complexity of the numbers behind HPC, testament to the years of dedicated hard work from all relevant stakeholders. This area of work was probably the most relatable to the modules I have completed at Bath (and during academic exchange in Mexico) such as: Project Finance, Corporate Finance and International Accounting for Managers.

French

Before heading  out to Paris for 4 months on an expat traineeship, EDF Energy provided me with private French tuition for 4-6 hours a week (within office hours) to help with work place integration and life outside work in Paris. French isn’t required to undertake the work in Paris, but is certainly useful. This is an example of the way EDF Energy is keen to invest in all employees. For me personally, being given the opportunity to learn a second language in my placement year was a real bonus.

Next time I`ll be talking about my 4 month expat assignment working for EDF in their Procurement Division for Nuclear Engineering in Paris, including work trips around France. À bientôt

 

HPC Supply-Chain Innovation Placement Blog

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📥  School of Management

First things first

Currently writing from Paris, in the midst of a`canicule` (French for heatwave), this blog aims to give students a flavour of what working in the fields of supply chain management/complex project management entails. Similarly, I’ll be providing a unique insight into my EDF Energy Hinkley Point C (HPC) International Placement year to raise awareness and promote the different job opportunities available with EDF Energy, in light of the new partnership with the University of Bath.

The bulk of my blog posts will be focused around my role for EDF Energy on the HPC project,  high profile events I’ve attended, the international aspect of my placement and how the modules I’ve taken during my first two years at the University of Bath (and during my academic exchange in Mexico) have helped me along the way. With blog publications every couple of weeks, why not read for a glimpse into a placement year that has truly ticked all the boxes.

A little about me

I`m a 3rd year BSc (Hons) in International Management student at the University of Bath with a desire to pursue a career in the low carbon energy industry after graduating. Initially, I applied for placements in the renewable energy sector in Europe (solar and wind predominantly), without considering nuclear. However, when the chance to work on the world’s largest low carbon energy investment arose, it was an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse (all will be revealed in good time).

I had already secured an academic exchange at ITESM in Mexico for semester one, therefore I deliberately tailored my modules to the work I would be doing for EDF Energy upon my return: supply chain management, project finance, logistics and Spanish (maybe not so useful considering I am now based in Paris).

What is HPC?

Now you`re probably thinking `Okay, but what is Hinkley Point C`? Well, you can find out here. Or, strain your eyes below on the artist’s impression of the multi-billion nuclear construction project of two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) on the coast of Somerset. HPC will soon be the largest construction site in Europe. More photos can be found on the @hinkleypointc Instagram account.

Artist`s impression of Hinkley Point C when completed

 

Me enjoying my weekends in Mexico

Participating in an induction day at ITESM, Puebla (Mexico)

Introducing the ‘EDF Energy HPC International Placement’

An exciting new research partnership between EDF Energy and the University of Bath, School of Management has now been established – The HPC Supply Chain Innovation Lab. EDF Energy naturally want to offer placements to University of Bath, School of Management students. I am the inaugural BSc in International Management (BIM) student, so here’s a brief overview of how my International Placement was set up.

The competitive recruitment process consisted of a cover letter/CV, followed by a 1 hour interview with the Commercial Director of the HPC Project Ken Owen and a senior member of his staff. After successfully being chosen for the role, I subsequently went to meet Ken again in July 2016 to organise the details of my placement before heading to Mexico.

Ken made it very clear that the sheer size and complexity of the project meant a placement student would be able to choose from a variety of business/management disciplines to work in: supply chain management, procurement, contract management, finance, human resources, law and the list continues.

You won`t find many Commercial Directors willing to engage with a placement student on such a personal level, showing the high level of attention he has for all young people wanting to join the field of supply chain/contract/project management. We decided to split my 8 months by locations and areas of work to suit my specific interests:

Bristol/London (3 months)- Contract Management, International Supply Chain Management & Finance
Paris (4 months)- Procurement
Bristol/London (1 months)- International Supply Chain Management and Finance

Until next time

I hope my first blog provided a clear introduction into the HPC project, the link between University of Bath and EDF Energy and the EDF Energy HPC International Placement. My next blog will give you an insight in to my day to day work during my three months in Bristol/London. Specifically, working personally with the Head of International Supply Chain on the HPC Project, helping to roll out contract management software for multi-million pound contracts and analysing a multi-billion pound project using complex financial models. Stay tuned.

 

Exploring “The Edge” at Roche Continents ‘16

  

📥  Faculty of Science

Agnes Wong, one of our MPharm students, has just returned from taking part in this year’s Roche Continents project in Salzburg, Austria.

The project aims to bring together 100 top students from across Europe to give them the opportunity to explore sources of inspiration at the intersection of science and art, as well as the creative processes that drive innovation. 

Agnes has written a short blog about her experience


The journey did not start in Salzburg, nor at W.A. Mozart Airport, nor at Stansted airport… It all started with the application form.

The Roche Continents program was a pivotal moment in my three years as an undergraduate pharmacy student. After being nominated to attend the event, I was directed to the application site where I was to put on a different thinking cap after a long time since studying Theory of Knowledge during my IB days. “What does ‘The Edge’ mean to you?” This question was not an easy one to tackle but it definitely set off my personal expectation for Roche Continents 2016 – it was going to be an exceptional experience.

Roche Continents ’16 group photo. Photo credit: Roche

Roche Continents ’16 group photo. Photo credit: Roche

This year’s theme was “The Edge” and broadly speaking, we were meant to challenge the boundaries of our thoughts across the arts and sciences – two subjects at both ends of the area of knowledge continuum. Throughout the week, we had the privilege to listen to talks by renowned speakers on various topics such as astrophysics, evolution, cancer and genome sequencing as well as musicologists and Salzburg artists on the evening concerts we were to attend. Another brilliant experience I had was when we were given a task to present an artistic concept representing “a billion” which had a mix of science and art students. This was definitely an eye-opener for me as I had the opportunity to explore the mind works of scientists and artists.

Me outside the Mozarteum where the works of Cerha, Schwetsik and Gruber were performed.

Me outside the Mozarteum where the works of Cerha, Schwetsik and Gruber were performed.

Intriguing talks, evening concerts, sumptuous food (yes, we had waffles for breakfast) etc, but personally my best bit of Roche Continents was the opportunity to listen to the stories from my fellow friends from across 29 nations. During the week, I met some of the most inspiring personalities and creative characters who are courageously pursuing their passion in different fields, some of which I have never heard of such as theoretical chemistry. The individuals I encountered were bubbling with so much enthusiasm when they spoke of the work that they do, be it producing compositions using African polyrhythms, doing a PhD in Wallerian degeneration or even organizing Roche Continents for the nth time; these special people have certainly helped deepen my understanding on what it means to be Passionate about something. Over the course of six and a half days at Salzburg, this group of strangers became a group of friends whom I seemed to have known for six and a half years.

The Roche Continents experience has taught me a lot about passion, to never lose the willingness to explore the unknown and last but not least, to continuously push my “Edge”.  It has been a pleasure to have been part of the journey. Thank you, Roche Continents and thank you, DPP!