As part of my sixth forms curriculum, I was encouraged to find work experience in a sector relevant to my interests, as this would allow me to experience industrial work and understand it’s day to day requirements. This, in turn, would then allow me to decide whether or not I thought the job was right for me.
I chose to do my work experience here, at the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre (BEIC) at Tyseley Energy Park (TEP), and upon arrival, I was presented with a warm welcome from all the staff, as well as the UOB students who were working on their pending project at the time. A very informative tour followed shortly after, in which I was presented with health and safety procedures and the background of TEP, along with an introduction to all the companies on the site.
This was a wonderful part of the day where I learnt many new interesting facts, key ones that stood out being that many companies, not just one, existed on this land (via lease), and that some buildings, such as the church, had been around for about 150 years! BEIC however, was built in 2021.
During my first day, after expressing a passion for chemistry, one of the staff who were about to go down into the lab, informed me of their intentions and allowed me to shadow them. Presented with my inquisitive attitude, he enthusiastically explained his current project which was to do with extracting rare earth metals. I was given the opportunity to ask many questions and explore my interests, whilst the staff at the institute remained very informative and supportive.
I soon learnt that the BEIC primarily focused on hydrogen fuel cells, along with magnet and battery recycling and thermal energy storage. On a tour with Dr Emily Prestwood, joined by the technical manager Chris Gell, I was allowed access into the machinery room, where Chris then readily explained the uses of each machine. My abundant curiosity was readily answered with numerous, equally enthused, responses which helped my understanding and knowledge of energy develop.
Over the next few days, I was given the opportunity to sit in during meetings, and this gave me a considerable insight into the world of work, and also allowed me to gain greater knowledge of what was happening in my local community.
Being introduced to many new people was, at first, a little nerve wracking however I swiftly overcame that due to the welcoming and friendly nature of all the staff I met on site.
On Wednesday, I was invited to sit in a meeting between ‘Transport for West Midlands and BEIC’; there were about 60 people in attendance, however we split into two groups of 30. I was shadowing Impact Lead Mossen Randeree at the time, and was presented with an opportunity to hone my social skills and confidence, whilst simultaneously learn all about hydrogen buses – of which only 20 exist in Birmingham! I was given the opportunity to speak to the drivers, who then explained the various different parts of the engine. It was, ultimately, a very interesting experience I would not have otherwise been privy to without the BEIC team.
The following day was a community open day, on which I met many new people down at the hosting memorial hall. Here, we, along with many other organisations, advertised the River Cole project to curious volunteers, and then engaged in a litter pick along the Grand Union canal to contribute towards the development of a much cleaner community area. The River Cole project is one that aims to revamp the land around the river, and introduce family-friendly spaces, such as play areas, rest areas and a gym as well. Evidently, the process had started already in Tyseley Park and is supposed to be completed by the end of June. In great community spirit, numerous people aided in this humanitarian event, along with several volunteer groups from companies such as Severn Trent and Canal and Rivers trust.
After learning I had yet to visit the University of Birmingham main campus- Dr Emily Prestwood kindly organised a trip on Friday, where we took a small tour. As my supervisor, and the key person I was shadowing, she went above and beyond in trying to help me to get the most out of my time at BEIC.
Overall, my time at the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre and Tyseley Energy Park was a very enlightening experience, which I benefited from greatly, as all the talks and meetings I attended only strengthened and fuelled my aspirations to enter such a field. I would definitely recommend paying a visit if you are unsure as to what the job entails, as you will leave with not only a great insight into the industry/future of energy development, but also an understanding of the several other tasks taken on by staff in this profession.
I would like to thank Dr Emily Prestwood for giving me the opportunity to be here, as well as Karen, Evita, Chris and Mossen for all their support and encouragement.