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Abigail Monkhouse

Graduate Design Engineer

"When looking for graduate schemes to apply to, I was attracted to Nuclear Graduates because of the variety of opportunities that are available throughout the programme."

Studied: First Class MEng Mechanical Engineering at Durham University

Current job title, secondment host and duration: Graduate Design Engineer, International Nuclear Services, 4.5 months

Previous roles, secondment hosts and durations: Graduate Mechanical Engineer, Nuclear Propulsion – Ministry of Defence, 5 months, Graduate Mechanical Engineer, Devonport Site Office – Rolls-Royce Submarines, 4 months, Graduate Manufacturing Engineer, Primary Component Operations – Rolls-Royce Submarines, 8 months

Sponsor company: Rolls-Royce Submarines

What is your current role and what does it involve?

My current role is as a Graduate Design Engineer within an Engineering Design team. Every day I have to use and apply concepts and learning that I gained through my Engineering degree. Most of my time is spent using 3D modelling software to generate designs, from basic concepts through to extremely detailed designs. I have also gained experience in producing technical drawings which are to be sent out to manufacturers, and through this I am able to gain an understanding of how designers and manufacturers interact and work together. Other tasks which form part of the design process include writing functional and manufacturing specifications, and performing calculations to support the designs.

What attracted you to the nuclear sector and the Nuclear Graduates programme?

When looking for graduate schemes to apply to, I was attracted to Nuclear Graduates because of the variety of opportunities that are available throughout the programme. I thought “if I gain a place on this scheme, not only will I be able to undertake a range of placements in different companies, but I will also have dedicated time for training and development, as well as an instant network of contacts across the nuclear industry”, what more could I want?

What is the standout moment from your time on the Nuclear Graduates programme?

A key moment for me was standing at the entrance of Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment on the north coast of Scotland. As part of a Continuing Professional Development trip to Dounreay, I had organised an opportunity for my Cohort to visit Vulcan and participate in several tours of the facilities on site. To get to this point, I had made use of my contacts within Rolls-Royce, liaised with the Chief Engineer at Vulcan, organised 30 graduates into groups and ensured they all had appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, coordinated the submission of security clearance information, and worked alongside my colleagues to deliver a successful trip to the most northern nuclear site in the United Kingdom. Standing there and realising what I had achieved was a proud and memorable moment.

What are your plans for the future?

Following completion of the Nuclear Graduates programme I aim to take up a permanent position within my sponsor company, Rolls-Royce. I am hoping to start my career with Rolls-Royce in Devonport Dockyard, training to become an Assistant Resident Engineer. It will take me two to three years to become qualified and I am likely to spend 5 years at the Site Office before returning to the hub of the business in Derby to further my career. Looking further into the future, I hope to move into a management position. The learning and development experiences I have gained through the Nuclear Graduates programme have put me in a fantastic position to build my management skills in the years to come.

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