About CSci

  • Robert Sampson
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Robert Sampson
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
South East
First Degree: 
Materials Science & Engineering.
Inorganic Materials Specialist
Works For: 
Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
B.Eng in Materials Science from Bath
Pet Hates: 
People who are late
X-ray vision
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
An Architect, I was good at drawing
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
It’s true what they say, good teachers do inspire people. For me it was probably my Secondary School Science and Design & Technology teachers
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Warhead science & technology is genuinely fascinating. As our previous Chief Scientist used to say at his lectures “it’s not brain surgery but it is rocket science”
What would you change? 
People’s attitudes towards nuclear power, it has a great deal to offer
What qualifications did you take at school? 
9 GCSEs A levels in Biology, Chemistry and physics and A/S level Mathematics
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
Materials Science & Engineering. It was my intention to read biochemistry but when I went for the induction interview I was so inspired by the Professor and Bath University that it was the only option for me
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I did my degree before it was a pre-requisite to have a Masters Degree for accreditation. My varied work experience has helped me gain my Chartership. The majority of my work colleagues over the years have had PhDs, the work is such that a high level of knowledge is required
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
Thermonuclear weapons scientist …. only joking, I normally lie and say I’m a professional footballer
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
The British Nuclear Deterrent is incredibly complex, it has evolved to penetrate the most developed counter measures. There is also an increasing aspect of national nuclear security
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
One hopes that my endeavors safeguard civilized society
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Working with world class scientists and engineers, they don’t always see eye to eye
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
Degree, Metallurgist with Rolls Royce working on nickel super alloys for blades and discs in aero gas turbine engines, chemical engineering developing protection systems against chemical biological radiological and nuclear threats and my current post as Inorganic Materials Specialist
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
I need to be able to liaise with engineers, physicists and chemists at a high level. I also occasionally get my hands dirty at the bench
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
I joined part way into my career so am unsure about starting salaries but AWE has treated me well
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
A greater move to national nuclear security and nuclear power is likely to become more important
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Some of the problem solving aspects come from no-where and can be very engaging
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Probably my recent promotion but the key is continuing development
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Yes, it is one aspect that AWE actively promotes
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They always say it sounds interesting; they may just be being polite?
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Cycling is a brilliant sport. I joined the works MTB club for regular evening and weekend rides and I now enjoy racing at a number of events in the UK
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
Chartered Scientist is somewhat overshadowed by Chartered Engineer but as my work is and will continue to be science biased it is the obvious choice. The decision to have to continually re-apply and demonstrate competence my up its kudos
What is the value of professional bodies? 
For me it’s about staying connected with my piers and furthering my learning and understanding
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
The importance of continuing professional development cannot be underemphasized and I am fully in praise of grade revalidation, it brings the system up to date
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
If you’re interest is in science and technology I thoroughly recommend a career in the nuclear industry
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
I am currently both a mentor and a mentee. I am professional mentor to a PhD student who is working towards chartered scientist status and I have a personal mentor not only to further my development within the company but also to act as an independent point of contact
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Having the skill and ability to complete the job in a timely and efficient manner
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I’d have to say I’d have done a company sponsored PhD straight after my first degree but there is no way I’d have thought that the way forward at the time
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
My professionalism and character
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