Physics Alumna Moira Mason (1998)
Moira Mason (1998 Physics) - Environmental Safety Engineer at British Energy
I enjoyed science at school and although Physics wasn't my strongest subject it was the one that made me most curious, which is why I went on to study it at University. In my role it's not immediately obvious that I use much of what I learnt in my degree, but having a Physics background is extremely useful in a technical support role in the nuclear industry and I find the methodical and analytical approach that comes as second nature to a scientist to be the most useful skill.
My time at Strathclyde gave me a good degree from a University that's well recognised and that helps a lot for getting a job. Looking back now I probably remember the people most of all - I met some of my best friends at Strathclyde. I was also lucky to spend my third year studying at Michigan State University in the USA, which gave me so many opportunities personally and academically, and it has probably had the biggest impact on my life.
After Strathclyde, I joined British Energy (then called Nuclear Electric) as a Graduate Trainee in 1998 and was based at in the Environmental Safety Group at Heysham 1 Power Station which is near Morecambe, Lancashire. I was initially responsible for the station's Environmental Monitoring Programme and worked on the introduction of a new Electronic Dosimeter System. In 2001, I moved to British Energy's Engineering Support Centre at Barnwood, Gloucester and spent 18 months working as a Radiological Analysis Engineer, which involved doing radiological consequence analysis in support of safety cases for operation of our power stations. I also got the opportunity to carry out radioactive waste plant safety assessments and undertook a secondment to the Engineering Division Change Project, looking at the culture change and process for restructuring the Division to improve operational focus. In 2002, I returned to Heysham 1 to my current role where I am responsible for the assessment of the Radioactive Liquid and Gaseous Discharges from the site. This involves day-to-day management of the laboratory and our sampling programmes and troubleshooting any problems with our sampling systems and analysis equipment. In addition to the routine management of the lab to meet our monthly reporting requirements I am currently working on changes to our sampling methods and analytical techniques in support of a review of the authorisation to discharge radioactive waste from the site.
Once, as a Graduate Trainee I spent 5 weeks on shift with the Operations Department learning about the operation of the reactors. During that period we started a routine refuelling outage and I got to press the reactor trip button to shut the reactor down - that is pretty special as some of the guys who routinely operate the reactors haven't had that opportunity!
I am about to take a 5 month career break and will be spending the winter in the French Alps. I am an Explorer Scout Leader, running two Explorer Scout Units and I am involved in organising county events. I enjoy the outdoors and spend as much time as possible walking, climbing, skiing, ski touring and have a new obsession - sea kayaking! I bought my own flat last year so I have a renewed interest in DIY and love cooking for friends and entertaining.