For the last two weeks myself and another natural sciences student (although I guess I’m about to be a graduate!) have been caught between the airflow of two overworked fans as we struggle to keep the physics lab at a bearable temperature. Over the course of July we’ve been tasked with designing modules for the upcoming STEM foundation year programme due to start for the first time this September. More specifically we need to design a physics laboratory skills module, and a module introducing programming and electronics. This involves everything from ordering and testing equipment, to writing module documents and thinking of clever ways to introduce different concepts. On the programming side we’re using Arduino microcontrollers, which provide a great open-source platform to program sensors, motors, and much more.
It’s a really different experience being on the other side of the fence, and actually pretty enjoyable – getting paid to write programs/construct circuits is great! Having the freedom to design experiments and programming sessions how you would have liked to be taught is interesting to really think through, and the first drafts of a large majority of the work are just starting to take shape. Another strange feeling is the lack of stress that’s been part of the last four years in doing a degree. Everyday we go in, work on what we think needs to be done and leave at five, with evenings and weekends kept completely free!
Beyond this, the rest of summer is even now beginning to look short, as I’ve been sent preliminary work for my upcoming PhD in September, though this has also brought with it the exciting reality of moving onto something completely new (but not before a music festival or two!).