Name: Mike Priestley.

Time in lab: 12 weeks (June - September).

When not labbing: PhD student researching atmospheric chemistry at the Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Manchester.

Gosh that’s a bit of a mouthful. What are you doing in the lab if you’re as busy as that sounds? I’m here to learn about cutting edge technology and working practices in a place that fosters a forward thinking approach to work.

Alright keep your hair on, nobody likes a teacher’s pet. No seriously, the lab isn’t only creating cool and useful tech, it’s showcasing how an informal, holistic approach can be more productive than traditional working environments.

Interesting, why do you think think that? It massively improves communication which has a huge effect on the speed and quality of work. Sitting at the communal table is sometimes like watching a tennis match as ideas get passed back and forth - very swiftly a plan formulates and everyone is reading from the same page, ready to work.

Hmmm, that does sound quite good. It helps that the team are genuinely enthusiastic about what they’re doing and get to share that excitement with each other through the many different activities they’re involved in. Their can do attitude is infectious. Prior to the lab I would be way more conservative about how far I thought I could take my technical abilities. Now I’ll think, ‘yeah I can give that a go’.

Oh they do sound like a nice bunch. Now who’s a teachers pet?

Ok ok, how did you fit in then? Using lots of complicated PhD stuff you’ve been doing? Not at all. My time here has been spent helping build the augmented reality sandpit and coding a job logging web app! I had 0 experience of these things prior to my internship. The lab aren’t interested in qualifications when they take on interns, they’re after anyone with a bit of nous, an appetite to learn and the want to make cool stuff. In my short stay, I have met 9 other interns ranging from university undergraduates studying sciences, maths and design - to high school students who have only just chosen their GCSEs.

That sounds great! Maybe I should be a lab intern? Yeah why not? If you do, I think you’ll get the closest to a truly integrated, cross-discipline experience with a chance to explore the bleeding edge of design, science and tech.

Describe the lab in three words:
1. unorthodox.
2. pragmatic.
3. intelligent.

Best bits:
1. Peeling back the onion layers of web app development.
2. Seeing Ronnie the Rhino lit up in full glory for the first time.
3. Conversations with the lab on subjects as varied as bad flags, drumming robots, the objectivity of art and good curry.


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