Laurie Winkless

National Physical Laboratory (NPL)

Industry sector

Research and development

What I do on an average day?

I tend to split my day in two – half is spent in the lab and the other half in the office. The lab work involves analysing samples with different bits of kit, making measurements, going through the data, and noting any interesting observations. The office work involves reading relevant journals, books and articles, or writing reports or papers as part of a project. I often have meetings, either about science or project management. I also spend a couple of days each month doing science outreach.

How I got here

When I was little, I was always very curious as to how things work, so I think deep down I always knew I wanted a technical career. I also love to write though, so I did consider that path too and thankfully my writing skills have come in rather useful in my scientific work!

My favourite part of my job

I just love the fact that every day is different – you just don’t get bored! Frustrated when experiments don’t work, yes, but bored? Never. I also like that most of my job involves playing around with bits of equipment, electronics, tools – it's fun! I get to travel a lot with work, to meetings and conferences, and that is a big draw.

The future

In the short-term, I want to complete my PhD (due to submit 2014) and write as many articles as I can. I love science outreach, so I want to get better at it. In the long-term, I’d like to finally pick my career – the thing about science and engineering is that they open so many doors! There are a few paths I could see myself taking, but I would like all of them to lead to working in the space industry.

What is engineering?

Engineering, to me, is the application of great science. It’s turning research into something tactile, something useful and real. Engineering and science can only co-exist, we’d be no good without each other.