Insight and inspiration

Building the nuclear skills pipeline

MoltexFLEX was pleased to host two engineering undergraduates as interns during the summer – here, Siddharth Mahala talks about his experience.

What are you studying and where?

I study Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Manchester. I just finished my third year of my undergraduate course and am about to start the final year, which will see me gain my Masters as it’s an integrated course. I came to Manchester in October 2020 from Rajahstan; I’ll be going back to India at some point but at the moment after the course my options are open. 

What area of materials science are you hoping to go into? Are you looking for a career in the nuclear industry?

I’m interested in a broad spectrum of sectors, but I’m really interested in energy storage (and energy in general). I’ve learnt a lot about nuclear energy at MoltexFLEX that I wasn’t aware of previously. It makes me realize how necessary it is for the future as we can’t depend on wind and solar. Also, nuclear is something that can really boost the economy of developing countries. My internship has really given me a better perspective. 

What drew you to MoltexFLEX for an internship?

Initially, it was energy storage rather than the nuclear aspect – I thought GridReserve was something really interesting in terms of conceptual design, and I was really curious about how it worked. But it’s really made me think about nuclear; if I was given the chance to work in the sector, I would definitely consider it.

What sort of things have you been working on while you have been here?

Mostly I’ve been working with the team on corrosion – I’ve mostly been checking the test alloy samples, doing scanning electron microscope analysis and other work to understand the corrosion behaviour, and how the materials behave with different salt compositions. 

What was your favourite part of your internship?

The team discussions – working in ‘scrums’ has been something I really enjoyed. I’d heard of agile working before, but this was the first time I’d ever taken part in it. It’s definitely useful as a skill to have; everyone here is welcoming, and during the meeting it’s good to know what specific tasks other team members will be performing, It’s really good from a communication point of view. The morning meetings set you up for the day, whereas the ‘retro’ meetings are a good way to review things and learn from them.

What will you take away from your time at MoltexFLEX – and did you enjoy it?

For me, it’s definitely given me a lot of skills – for example, speaking skills and people skills, and seeing how people work in a fast-moving environment and learning from it. But in simple words: I definitely enjoyed it!

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