“I am researching the design and manufacture of spinal implants called Total Disc Replacements.”

NCUB’s National Campaign Talent 2030 have introduced “a day in the life of” series to give young people a better idea of what a career in engineering might look like but also how varied careers are within the industry. We spoke with University of Birmingham’s Naomi Green who is currently completing her PhD in the school of Mechanical Engineering. 

I am Naomi and I’m a chartered mechanical engineer with 10 years’ experience in industry and academia. I graduated from my undergraduate degree in 2004 and worked at Arup, an engineering consultancy, for 6 years before deciding I wanted to become a biomedical engineer and return to university. I am currently completing my PhD in the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. I’m part of the biomedical engineering research group and I am researching the design and manufacture of spinal implants called Total Disc Replacements. They are designed to replace damaged intervertebral discs in the spine. I am inspired by the idea that my work will help to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic back pain.

Morning:

I usually wake up around 8 am and often find it hard to get out of bed! I usually jump straight into the shower to wake me up and then have breakfast. I’m lucky that I get to wear what I want to work so I usually dress in jeans and a nice top. I have an easy 15 minute drive to university and I normally arrive at the laboratory at 9.30 am.

Work mode:

“I am inspired by the idea that my work will help to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic back pain.”

Being a PhD student is quite different to being an undergraduate student, you don’t have any lectures and spend 3 years carrying out a research project. You have to develop or find something new, which is really exciting but also quite daunting! Sometimes the results of your experiments won’t be what you expected and you have to try and work out why. My day is very flexible and I can work the hours I want to, either in the lab or at home. Having spent time in industry I usually do a normal working day in the lab because it is what I am used to, but it is nice to have the flexibility when you need it. Every day at university is different, I can be in the laboratory doing an experiment, teaching undergraduates, or sitting at my desk analysing results and writing journal papers.

“I’m lucky that I get to wear what I want to work so I usually dress in jeans and a nice top.”

Lunch time:

I usually bring a packed lunch to work and eat it at my desk if I’m in the middle of something or with my friends in the coffee area we have in our lab. We all get on very well and help each other out with our research. We are all working on individual projects but they often overlap and we can bounce ideas off each other and teach each other how to use pieces of equipment.

Winding down:

I usually leave the lab at around 6 pm, although sometimes I need to stay later to finish an experiment or because I’m so into what I am doing I don’t want to leave! I am a keen singer so twice a week I have choir rehearsals to go to straight after work, which are usually followed by trips to the pub for a drink and dinner with my friends. On a Friday after work everyone in the lab goes to the university staff bar for a drink and a catch up before heading home for the weekend.

“Every day is different, I can be in the laboratory doing an experiment, teaching undergraduates, or sitting at my desk analysing results and writing journal papers.”

Home time:

Once I am home I’ll cook dinner and then settle down to watch some TV and chill out. I get into bed around 10.30pm and read a book for a while. I am so passionate in my research that I often have ideas running through my head so it is good to read and clear my mind before I fall asleep. I loved the Harry Potter series so I’ve just started reading JK Rowling’s detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Talent 2030 is an ambitious campaign to encourage more talented young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering – including software development. Talent 2030 is particularly focused on inspiring more girls to consider careers in these sectors, working jointly with business and universities to undertake outreach into schools and colleges. For further Talent 2030 updates follow them on Twitter @Talent_2030.