Matthew Richards from Newbury, West Berkshire, is in his fourth year of the STFC apprenticeship scheme. He currently works in the Software Engineering Group (SEG) in SCD as an apprentice software engineer. SEG is a team of research software engineers, data scientists, system managers and project managers, who work to design, implement and support a wide range of software. Amongst other things, they enable researchers to discover and catalogue experimental data, make links between research outputs and capture analysis workflows.
Describing how he has been supporting the group to accomplish such work, Matthew says, “I am currently developing the backend for a new internal service, DataGateway, which is to be released later in 2021. This is a web portal that allows scientists to access their data produced by facilities such as the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the Central Laser Facility. I am also developing an Application Programming Interface which fetches and updates catalogue metadata such as information about scientific investigations, who performed them and what scientific instruments were used. This is critical to the 'behind-the-scenes' functioning of the DataGateway service."
“As an apprentice, I also spend one day per week studying for my fully-funded degree. I am currently studying a module regarding Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning."
When asked about what attracted Matthew to the SCD apprenticeship scheme, he said, “Instead of following the typical university route, I came to STFC on their computing apprenticeship, as it allowed me to study for a degree in the subject whilst gaining on-the-job experience. Having this real-world experience was important to me as I can appreciate how different classroom learning is to what goes on in industry."
“At the time, it felt like STFC provided a better work-life balance than other companies providing apprenticeships. Looking back, this is certainly true. I feel STFC is a good place to learn, and as an apprentice, I am never punished for making mistakes. Instead, they are turned into learning experiences, which is good for building confidence."
Speaking about his future career, Matthew said, “Once I've completed my apprenticeship, I'd like to continue to be a software engineer within STFC/SCD, working on projects where I can learn new technical skills and continue to improve myself as a developer."
Find more information about apprenticeship opportunities within SCD here.