15 May 2024. Brought to you by Taya Stankevych.

Katie Farmer

What is your current job / programme of study?

Material Science and Engineering Undergraduate, also employed as an Outreach Officer for Net Zero Wales and Switch on Skills

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do?

Maths, Physics and Chemistry

Why did you chose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)?

I chose a career in Material Science because I have always been a curious person. Sometimes I felt that physics or chemistry alone didn’t answer some of the questions I had about why certain things happen or why materials behave the way they do. But Material Science provided me with the knowledge to look at objects I use in everyday life and understand why they are made of what they are made of, why they look the way they do and to approach new items with the same curiosity and wonder as I did for all of the other materials I have come across.

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course? (If you didn’t do a MSE course which course did you do and what led to you MSE?)

I enjoy the variety of the modules we do. It gives us an opportunity to find something we are passionate about in the field and also allows us to develop interchangeable skills that work across many work sectors to help us with employment after university.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?

One of the coolest things I have done so far was to take a worm cast left on Swansea Beach, cleaned it out (delicately, of course) and then put it in a Zeiss Xrada X-Ray CT. The data from the Xray was then uploaded to SyGlass where I could use Virtual Reality to increase the size of the tunnels and walk through them as if I was the worm that casted them. Pretty cool in my opinion.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I honestly cannot see myself sticking to one material in my career, maybe jumping from fracture mechanics to biomimicry. That is something that I love about materials, it is involved in everything and you can definitely make a career out of what you are passionate about!

What is your favourite material (and why)?

My favourite material (potentially a controversial choice) is chocolate. This is because I watched a documentary when I was younger about how a Cadbury’s flake won’t melt in your hand or if you put it in a frying pan, which clearly caught my attention as I can still remember it almost 10 years later. It is a fitting tribute to how fascinating the world of materials is, because you can have two chocolate bars made from the exact same ingredients but due to the way that it was made, one melts in your palm and one doesn’t.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

My first instinct is to tell myself that everything will be okay. I think there is a lot of stress given to young adults, or even kids, about how the choices that you make are permanent and have a huge and lasting impact on your life, but I find that this isn’t necessarily the case. As long as you follow your passions, what you know and what makes you happy, in my eyes you can never make a wrong decision.