As an IET Diamond Jubilee scholar sponsored by British Telecom, I was invited to apply for a 12-week placement at BT’s Adastral Park research and development facility at Martlesham in Suffolk.
I worked with the Mobile division of Applied Research, looking at the use of software defined radio (SDR) for 4G and 5G testing. With little familiarity with the protocols behind the two systems, the project started with a lot of reading Wray Castle training manuals, but I did get into the swing of things. Unfortunately the details of my research are commercially sensitive, so this post will focus on what the experience was like as a student.
A rail trip from Southampton was required to sort out somewhere to stay – I ended up at the former junior doctors’ housing for The Ipswich Hospital at Pearson Road (approx. £95/week including bills but not broadband). It did the job, but was a little spartan! It was a 10-15 minute drive to site.
I didn’t interact quite as much with my team as I would have liked – working somewhere over summer has the disadvantage that many of its employees take leave. I had a ‘supervisor’ with whom I interacted daily, though.
There were around 20 interns, and we all ate lunch together (protip: there’s a Greggs five minutes out the front gate). We had a weekly meeting at which one or two interns briefed the rest on their work, as well as a look around BT’s future comms/IoT showcases. This was really nice from a professional development perspective. The occasional trip down the A14 to Felixstowe for fish and chips after work was pretty lovely too!
As an employer?
BT were great. Martlesham was a great place to work, being surrounded by a load of bright engineering minds. I definitely got a lot out of my placement, and am actually looking at something 5G-related for my third-year individual project. BT seem to really value their people, too: unfortunately I had a few health hitches over summer but my line manager was really flexible and had no issue with me attending appointments as required.
I’d definitely recommend a placement with BT (the pay’s pretty generous too compared to other technology firms).