Bristol-based AgriTech company, LettUs Grow, recently welcomed Sam Brooks, a Bristol University PhD student, for a three-month placement in their organisation. Ben Crowther, LettUs Grow CTO and Bristol Graduate, shares his thoughts on the scheme.
A new initiative launched by the Bristol Doctoral College is inviting organisations to participate in the Bristol Industrial PhD Placement scheme. This involves sending Doctoral Researchers on funded three-month science and engineering placements in a range of sectors – from startups and SMEs to larger companies, government bodies and policy organisations.
As University of Bristol graduates, we were particularly keen to get involved. LettUs Grow was set up by the three founders – Jack Farmer, Charlie Guy and myself – whilst still at University. We wanted to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the planet: global warming and food security. By combining our backgrounds in engineering and biology, we found innovative ways of using aeroponics to help indoor farmers scale up their operations to compete with traditional agriculture.
It has been a pleasure to travel full circle and support an internship after completing a number of them myself whilst studying at the University of Bristol. This internship programme has cemented the University as a key source of future talent and we look forward to working with more doctoral researchers in the future.
This year we welcomed Sam Brooks, a doctoral researcher in the field of thermodynamics, onto the LettUs Grow team. Sam was a crucial member of staff during his time here. His wealth of experience, unique skills and fresh perspective were invaluable to a number of our projects. During his placement, he helped us build one of Europe’s first vertical aeroponic farms in central Bristol, an incredible achievement.
The placement wasn’t just great for us, Sam had a fantastic time too. Here’s what Sam had to say about the experience:
“Working for a small company meant that I was exposed to all areas of the business. LettUs Grow was keen that I should try everything from manufacturing products to harvesting crops, so I could understand all aspects of the business. The work was incredibly varied, and no two weeks were the same. One week I might be doing complex calculations and the next I could be building an indoor farm from the ground up. Academia often feels quite slow, but at LettUs Grow there was something new happening every week.
“The placement opened my eyes to a whole new area of research and career opportunities that I would never have considered before. Even with a project so far removed from my field of research, it was impossible not to notice crossovers. It has given me confidence that I can adapt and be a useful asset to a company. Having work experience during your PhD is incredibly useful on your CV. It shows that you have the soft skills to succeed in all types of work.
“University research can be very solitary, so it was great to be back working in a team. It was a pleasure working with everyone at LettUs Grow. They were all incredibly fun, supportive and welcoming. I would recommend it to anyone!”
[Updated 31 March 2019.]
Interested in boosting your own career prospects through a funded placement?
Our Industrial PhD Placement Fair (2 April 2019) is a chance to meet and mingle with representatives from start-ups, SMEs and large organisations. To book your free place, visit the Eventbrite page.