A unique opportunity for an apprentice has opened at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre.

The three to four year programme will include a variety of hands-on practical experience on some of the most exciting space science currently being researched at the University.

The apprenticeship would be a fantastic opportunity for anyone planning a career in engineering.

Typical careers or jobs following this apprenticeship might include: research technician, laboratory manager, supporting high end engineering companies like Rolls Royce and BAE Systems or working on satellites for Airbus Defence and Space.

Due to start in June / July, applications are now open through the website below.

Organiser John Holt, of the university’s Space Research Centre, part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We’re looking for someone that has the drive to do something extraordinary with their career, who gets excited about using science and engineering to solve problems and sees the potential for space exploration and exploitation.”

Applicants are required to have GCSEs at grade A to C in maths, English and science (or equivalent). But equally as important is logical thinking, as well as the ability to remain motivated, patient and cool under pressure.

“This is the first time we have put together an advanced space apprenticeship,” said John. “It is being supported by the Space Research Centre and the College of Science and Engineering such that we can transfer specialist skills to the next generation of technicians and engineers.

“Space is a great vehicle for training people in the physical sciences, particularly engineering, as it is vital for UK industry.”

The UK space industry has been growing by an average of 8.6 per cent year on year since 2010. In 2015, space research was worth £11.8 billion to the economy – directly employing 37,000 people and estimated to support some 115,000 jobs in total.

“Looking to the near future,” added John. “The UK’s target is to grow this industry to a value of £40 billion by 2030 and for this we need fresh blood.”

The University of Leicester has been involved in some of the biggest space missions of recent years, working with Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA), UK Space Agency, ISRO (India) and JAXA (Japan).
There has been a Leicester-built instrument operating in space every year since 1967.

Space missions University is, or has been part of, include XMM, Chandra, SWIFT, Beagle 2, Meteosat Second Generation, James Webb Space Telescope and Bepi-Colombo, among others.

John said: “We have several projects that this person will be very involved with. A project called WORMMS (Worms On Returned Mars Mission Science) is looking at understanding the physiological effects of deep space travel on human tissue models and another project developing specialist glove boxes for a future Mars sample return mission.

“Also, a lot of our work in building space instrumentation often leads to new medical devices, for example, a novel instrument currently being developed will automatically monitor the urine output of a catheterised patient.

“An apprentice will work on these and others, but from a day to day perspective, might find themselves taking a microbial swab in the cleanroom, machining a piece of metal and heat treating it for a particular application, collecting data from an experiment in the lab, designing a mechanism in CAD, assisting our Earth Observation Science group in maintaining their optics cleanroom and much more.”

The successful apprentice will receive £135-a-week.

The post is Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5.30pm.

Loughborough College is the training provider and should be contacted with regard to any enquiries about this opportunity.

An Advanced Apprenticeship includes:

An NVQ at Level 3 in an engineering related subject
An Advanced Engineering Technical Certificate
Technical Certificates focus on the knowledge and understanding that underpins the NVQ, and will consist mainly of work based delivery with some attendance in college.
Apprentices will also learn about Employment Rights and Responsibilities (ERR)

For more information, or to apply, visit:

During your apprenticeship you will become proficient in the following:

Looking after a laboratory, health and safety (COSH forms and writing risk assessments),
Tracking laboratory costs and ordering parts,
General management skills,
Working in and maintaining a cleanroom,
Conducting experiments to a set procedure and learning to write procedures,
Keeping a good log book, collecting data (data logging) and how to use / archive that data,
Soldering printed circuit boards (SMT and through-hole), ESD handling procedures, making specialist cables and equipment harnesses,
Fault-finding techniques,
Machining metal and plastic components,
Spacecraft cleaning procedures,
Working with glove box isolators and aseptic techniques,
Contamination control,
Drawing items in CAD,
Using vacuum systems,
Using standard laboratory and workshop test instruments (eg. multimeter or Vernier calliper),
Collecting and cataloguing test samples,
Field tests and using the full suite of MS Office (particularly Word and Excel).

Requirements and prospects:

Desired and useful skills

Dexterity of hands (like playing an instrument or painting as a hobby) and an ability to ‘think outside of the box’.

Spatial awareness and the skill to visualizing the problem or solving a puzzle.

Logical thinking and a systematic approach are key skills along with an ability to learn new concepts and ways of doing things.

Personal qualities

We are looking for someone who is keen, motivated and willing to give their very best to achieve the very best.

This requires ‘stick-ability’ and an attitude of ‘get the job done’. Integrity is crucial and making a mistake is only human, but to cover it up could mean the loss of a billion pound mission!

We want someone to go the extra mile and not give up; sometimes an experiment can take months or even years to get right and that requires a special quality of character to stay with it and see the potential of what they are doing.

With this in mind, patience and keeping ‘cool’ under pressure is crucial.

Qualifications required

GCSE A- C: Maths, English & Science required (or equivalent)


For interviews please email: John Holt e-mail: jmch1@le.ac.uk

University of Leicester Press Office Contacts:

Peter Thorley
News Projects Officer
Tel: 0116 252 2415
Email: pt91@le.ac.uk

Alex Phillimore
News Centre Executive
Tel: 0116 252 5761
Email: ap507@le.ac.uk


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