Success Stories

ScotGrad and Belford Research Ltd

Sean Taylor, 24, is just over halfway through a 12 month ScotGrad graduate placement where he is working as an assistant laser engineer for laser damage test house Belford Research Ltd (BRL).

Published: 29/07/2016

After completing a BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree at Heriot Watt University, Sean applied for a graduate placement after hearing about ScotGrad from his university careers service.

Sean grew up on a farm in north east Scotland, and enjoyed maths, computing and science subjects at school. This led him to study electronic engineering at college before continuing to study the field at university. 

Sean Taylor 

After a successful application and interview process, Sean was placed with Belford Research Ltd, a laser damage test house based in Dalkeith, outside Edinburgh, which provides a quality control service to laser manufacturers and optical coating suppliers.

BRL is expanding its service, and looked to ScotGrad to recruit a skilled electrical engineering graduate to assist in a high power optics evaluation project. 

On his placement, Sean works with the team at BRL to research alternative methods for laser damage testing in the near and mid infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Sean also assists with the running of the laser damage testing facility and has responsibility for extensive sensing and electronic equipment in the labs.

Laser damage testing is a new topic for most graduates leaving university, but Sean received full instruction and supervision on a one to one basis. 

Sean said: “Before I started my placement, optics and laser physics were relatively new to me. Since joining BRL, I have learned so much, very quickly due to the hands-on practical experience which has helped me effectively fulfil my role.

“As well as a more in depth knowledge of laser damage testing, I have also learned a lot about general office duties and the roles within a laboratory environment. These are vital when working on research projects in a highly specialised market.”

Sean says that his biggest achievement to date was being able to contribute towards a project in a field he had little experience in when he started. He added: “This placement has opened my eyes to all the technical and academic aspects of a research project and how the results and procedures constantly develop based on new information. 

“Thanks to my degree, I was also able to implement a number of the skills I obtained at university such as the ability to assess an issue and consider what may be causing it, and why. This has proved to be the most valuable skill I acquired as I have been able to apply this to any situation I have encountered and successfully solve the issue.”

Looking forward to the next five months of his placement, Sean is hoping to continue the success of his placement and hopes to make use of the contacts he’s made in the sector. 

“I hope that I will be able to utilise the contacts I have already made through my ScotGrad placement to develop professionally within the fast moving and technical industry. I would also like to continue to train in different disciplines to become a well-rounded engineer and expand on what I am currently learning and ultimately secure a full time role.”