Matthew Roberts

Alpha Specialist Support

"Sellafield understand the importance of the graduates and appreciate their unique outlook on problems."

Degree: Physics (MSci), University of Birmingham.

Profession: Technical and Strategy

Job Title: Alpha Specialist Support

What is your role on the graduate programme?

I am currently working within Remediation dealing with the plutonium contaminated material waste stream. My team provides technical support to operations in receiving, storing and processing of the waste drums. We consider many different aspects of the waste from radiometric measurements and physical and chemical composition to the operations of the plant or building where the waste has been sent from. Compiling all this, we decide whether the waste can be super compacted and processed for eventual storage in a geological disposal facility.

It provides a good overview of lots of areas on site, while allowing me to utilise technical knowledge gained from my degree. The job has a healthy balance of technical report writing and analysis as well as plant interaction and operations support. I have worked with many operators across site and have produced work for the NDA as well as liaised with AWE.

I am also spending 6 months on secondment in the Special Nuclear Materials Strategy and Technical team looking at strategic tolerances on the long term storage of plutonium at the Sellafield site. This will give me a fresh view of other sections of the company and allow me to develop in areas outside of my base technical knowledge.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I appreciate how vital young scientists and engineers are to the development of not only the company but the nuclear sector and country, so I became a STEM ambassador to help the growth and development of young people. I have attended the Big Bang fair in Birmingham as well as running and supporting several classroom activities in the local area.

In my spare time I have started to make the most of the unique geography of Cumbria, taking part in the charity Cumbrian Three Peaks challenge as well as completing many walks with other graduates. I also play for local sports clubs and have set up my own dodgeball club for the local area.

How did you find moving to a new area after University? 

I found moving to Cumbria somewhat daunting. Having grown up in close proximity to Bristol and then spending 4 years living in Birmingham, Cumbria provided a very different area very far from home. Despite this, Sellafield provided good support to me and other graduates moving from far afield. 

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is very strong at Sellafield, providing lots of support and advice as well as encouraging everyone to participate and join in with social events.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate programme?

To be successful it takes someone who goes beyond their basic tasks providing innovative and varied solutions to problems as well as searching for work beyond the initial basic workload. It also takes someone who is keen to understand the workings of the company and seizes any opportunities that are presented to them.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

The unique and broad types of work attracted me to Sellafield. The problems and challenges we face from being a historic facility are fascinating. The work also gives direct and clear benefit to the country.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

My advice would be to take every opportunity you can whilst on the scheme. Sellafield understand the importance of the graduates and appreciate their unique outlook on problems. Also, don’t be afraid to speak your mind; don’t assume your ideas have already been thought of.

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