Exeter student collaborates with pioneering Innovation Centre client

Published on: 19 October 2016

Exeter student, Alice Carr has been collaborating with Innovation Centre client, Theta Technologies.

A University of Exeter student, studying a new type of degree, worked with Theta Technologies to help advance their uniquely sensitive non-destructive testing techniques.

Alice Carr, studying an MSci in Natural Sciences, applied to do the four-year course after falling in love with the idea of study that could blend her passions for science and maths. It is a bonus that the course also equips her to ‘think big’ and find solutions to the key challenges facing society which will enable her to join a new generation of scientists.

Alice said: “The course and the staff are fantastic! It’s not just the fusion of subjects that inspires me; we are being equipped to tackle real world problems.”

As part of the course students are encouraged to find a work placement in industry.  The University’s Innovation, Impact and Business team put her in touch with Exeter Innovation Centre based Theta Technologies, a high-tech company developing uniquely sensitive non-destructive testing techniques.

Theta develops and uses techniques for identifying and classifying the level of defect in components earlier than any other available technology. This is particularly important for high-value or safety critical components such as those used in aerospace or defence applications, or where the reliability of parts is paramount.  

Alice explained: “I was delighted to be taken on by Theta. I quickly became an important member of the team and was involved in the whole non-destructive testing process, from design of experiments through practical testing to analysis of data.

“Theta’s use of non-linear acoustics gives them a super-sensitive way of inspecting parts. It was really rewarding to be involved in the development of ground breaking technology from the outset.

“The skills I brought to the company were really useful – as a Natural Scientist I have a breadth of knowledge that extends beyond what might be available with a traditional engineer. I was able to question things and think outside the box.

She added: “It isn’t just about the problem, it’s about how to tackle the problem and I think these types of skills are vital to challenge convention in the 21st century.”

The University of Exeter Innovation Centre is on the Streatham campus so is adjacent to a wealth of expertise and facilities.

Jonathan Wright, Head of Product Development at Theta Technologies, explained: “Working with students from a variety of disciplines gives us fresh perspectives on our work, and helps us stay innovative and creative.

“Being based at the Innovation Centre has worked well for us in terms of access to staff, facilities and students. Alice is a great example of this and we have gained a lot from having her work with us as an intern.”

Nicky King, Director of Studies for Natural Sciences at the University of Exeter is delighted with how the course is being received. She said: “Our Natural Sciences degrees really give our students a truly interdisciplinary education, with a focus on applying their knowledge to real world research problems.”

“Alice’s placement with Theta Technologies is a prime example of how valuable our students’ skill set is in both academia and in industry, and highlights how sought after our graduates will be.”

Alice who has been with the team at Theta since June has been asked to stay involved following her placement.

She is also keen to get involved in community events and will be attending November’s Start-up Weekend held on the University Campus.

Related links

» Dr Nicky King

» Theta Technologies Website
» Dr Neil Sewell - LinkedIn
» Jonathan Wright - LinkedIn
» Exeter Startup Weekend


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