Summer interns at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Each year Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre takes part in the University of Manchester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy undergraduate summer placement scheme. This is open to all 2nd year BSc and 3rd year MPhys students. The placements provide students with an opportunity to work with business, industry and in outreach, in order to enhance their CV and public engagement skills, and increase their employability upon graduation.

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has been taking part in this scheme since 2015. Each year three or four undergraduate students join us for the summer holidays. After a period of training they help us deliver of our programme of summer events, including the bluedot science and music festival.

This year we had three interns who all did an excellent job: James, Diyar and Tom. They helped deliver telescope walking tours, ran our very popular rocket lab, engaged with visitors in our exhibitions, assisted in science shows, and even turned their hand to working in our shop and café! We were very busy this summer and would not have been able to run our programme of events without them. They all learned very quickly and showed that they were willing to take on a wide range of tasks. If you visited us this summer, you may well have spoken to them!

Here is a little bit more about them…

James Conboy

James is about to start the 4th year of his undergraduate masters degree in Physics. When he is not studying for his degree, he enjoys hiking, swimming, and sailing.  He really enjoyed giving the telescope tours and said some of the best, and most challenging questions from visitors were often asked during his tours.

He says: “I was most surprised by the disparity between my expectations about the public’s understanding of physics and what the average member of the public actually knows. Being immersed in a physics degree, I think that the constant exposure to complex scientific ideas means that knowledge you assume to be elementary may in fact be to the contrary for a visitor to the Discovery Centre. On reflection, talking about physics to these members of the public was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship.”

Diyar Othman

Diyar has just started his 3rd year of his Physics degree. He was born in Dubai but has spent 19 years living in Cyprus. He is a sports and music enthusiast and loves playing basketball. He never says no to trying new sports and loves listening to any kind of music and playing guitar, piano, and drums. He also likes reading books in his free time.

He says: “The best thing about my internship was talking to people about the topics I love and study and discussing some amazing possibilities in our Universe. The most surprising thing in my internship was the number of people that attended the telescope walking tours, which excited me a lot at first.”

Tom Ward

Tom is just starting his 4th year of his Physics degree. He is originally from Nottingham and is a member of the University of Manchester water polo team. The bluedot festival was definitely the highlight of the internship for him, even though he had to do his first telescope tour to an enormous crowd, which was a bit daunting!

He says: “I actually surprised myself when I managed to give a talk for 45 minutes to over 200 people, as this was something I wouldn’t have been able to do before the internship”


Over the years Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has seen several of our undergraduate interns return to us as members of staff, including as part of our other internship programme; the Manchester Graduate Internship Scheme. So, we hope that we will see James, Diyar, and Tom again, but if not – we wish them all the best with the remainder of their studies, and we’re glad they chose to spend their summer with us!