The NDC hosted senior Ellon Academy pupil Lewis Jack on a work placement programme for half a day every week for six months. In his blog Lewis explains how he found out about the NDC and what he has learned from his time here.


  1. Tell us about yourself.
  • My name is Lewis Jack and I am currently an s6 pupil at Ellon Academy. I study Maths, Chemistry, Geography and French. After my time at school, I am hoping to continue my education by studying Chemical Engineering at university.
  1. Explain why you wanted to do your work experience with the NDC?
  • I wanted to spend time at the NDC after seeing a presentation at a careers evening by Dr Karen McArdle. The presentation caught my attention and made me aware of the facilities and research going on here at the NDC in Newburgh. Seeing as the work here is similar to my future plans, I thought it would be a good idea to try set up work experience at the NDC.
  1. What have you learned (or what have you have been working on) so far at the NDC?
  • During my time at the NDC I have been working on the Underwater Laser Cutting project. I have seen how the laser is operated and how the engineers must come up with quick solutions for any problems that may arise. I’ve been able to help Dr Keith Jackson (research engineer) with making sure the laser is centred and with controlling the positioning of the laser head to get it to the correct cutting coordinates. When speaking to the other researchers at the NDC, I’ve learned about the different dilemmas they have when trying to decide which method for decommissioning is the most effective taking into consideration the cost, the effect on the environment and the wider economic impact. I have also seen how using simulations and code can aid the research behind making better and more informed decisions.
  1. What has been the best part of the work experience?
  • My favourite part of the work experience would be watching the test runs of the laser cutting underwater.
  1. What have you found most useful?
  • Speaking to the researchers to gain a better understanding of why decommissioning is so important has been very helpful as I now have a better understanding about the subject matter, this will help me look at things from multiple perspectives when problem solving at university.
  1. What have you found the most challenging?
  • The precision and care required when swapping out and cleaning the lens of the laser.
  1. What has been most beneficial from your work experience for helping you decide on your career after school?
  • I found seeing what each person does in a regular workday to be very useful in helping me realise what I want to do after further education.
  1. What was your highlight this week?
  • Speaking to Dr Shahin Jalili and Dr Lawrence Wilcox about the research that goes into making decisions on what method to use to decommission a rig and to what extent a rig needs to be decommissioned. Also looking at the processes of making green hydrogen by potentially repurposing oil rigs.

Notes for Editors

PublishedThursday March 21st, 2024