Wednesday, 16 March 2011

State-sponsored research: AWE

Who? The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) provides and maintains the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Established in 1950, AWE is now operated under a government-owned/contractor operated system – managed for the MoD by Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin UK and Serco. It has around 4500 employees and 2000 contractors

Where? AWE’s two main sites are located close together in Berkshire: Aldermaston provides advanced research, design and manufacturing facilities; and Burghfield is responsible for the final assembly, maintenance and decommissioning of warheads.

What? The Materials Science group looks into the behaviour of materials to determine component life-span and support requirements. This includes materials ageing and testing, stockpile surveillance (analysis), and metallurgy. Specific examples of recent projects can be found in their scientific journal Discovery.

Are they recruiting? With a degree in chemistry, the recommended areas of business are Assurance, Chemical Technology, Materials Science Research and Plasma Physics. Science roles have a 2-year graduate programme, joining a specific department; while Assurance roles gain experience in a wider range of business areas, such as health and safety, major hazard assessment and more.

With 28 days annual leave and a final salary pension, the graduate starting salary is £21k, plus an additional £2.5k package to cover expenses on joining. Graduate applications are accepted throughout the year. Over 100 jobs are currently listed for experienced hires, with the following likely to be of most interest to chemists: Analyst (£16.5-21k, degree not required); Polymer Materials Specialist (£33-43k); Radiochemist (£20-34k); and Team Leader of Analytical Sciences (£33-43k)

Next up: The Met Office

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