I learned a lot about programming, intellectual property, business models, workplace motivation and responsibilities, the space industry, professional report writing, giving presentations, communicating with investors and more
I undertook an industrial placement with a satellite software company. I was given the task of exploring the benefits and disadvantages of Fountain Coding over lossy signal channels. This required a lot of maths (mostly linear algebra and statistics) and some programming ability. I found the project very engaging and thought provoking. I was lucky in that it aligned well with the aspects of my MPhys Physics degree that I really enjoyed, and I ultimately produced a functioning encoder and decoder. I then demonstrated that the conventional coding protocol is over 65% less efficient than the protocol that I implemented, and wrote a number of scripts which allow an end user to optimise the various parameters for their specific mission. This research has potential applications in a number of earth observation missions, such as the European Space Agency's SeaHawk mission, as well as satellite communications, such as the global Outernet project. After the 6 week placement, I was kept on as an employee. During my time I learned a lot about programming, intellectual property, starting a business and different business models, methods of workplace motivation, workplace responsibilities, the space industry, professional report writing, giving presentations, communicating with investors, and much more. I am very grateful to both the company and The University of Edinburgh for providing me with the opportunity to undertake this internship. My advice for anyone thinking about undertaking an industrial placement would be to think very carefully about the project, the environment and what exactly is expected of you. Be bold and try things, but don't be afraid to say you don't know or that you've made a mistake. If the subject matter of the project is right for you, go for it and you'll probably have a challenging but rewarding time.