Graduate Profile

Sinan, MPhys 2005

I graduated from St Andrews in June 2005 after four enjoyable years studying for an MPhys My physics degree from St Andrews was a great help in securing my first job. After advertising my C.V. on a job-hunters website I was contacted by a recruiter on the basis that I advertised myself as 'An ambitious physics graduate'. He informed me that his client was particularly keen on employing physicists as they had a proven track-record of thinking for themselves and solving problems!

Sinan in pictured second from right with colleagues

on an intensive Engineering Management course

in Rome (see below)


I worked for one year at a successful London-based Software Company on their graduate training scheme. The role involved providing first-line support for the software. My direct boss was also a physics graduate as were half of the members of my team. The job itself had a very steep learning curve and demanded a quick uptake on new concepts, thus in principle it was similar to many of the advanced physics modules that I studied for in my final year at St Andrews!

I soon realised that I wanted to use more of my physics knowledge and so I looked at careers in the research and development industry. In September 2006 I accepted an offer to work in a large defence-aerospace company working at the cutting edge of radar and avionic technologies. My job title was “Systems Engineer” and using my physics background I was able to work in a variety of roles.

My first role was in the Optical Design team where I was responsible for designing and testing sensor systems. I worked on a variety of products ranging from infrared, night-vision systems for vehicle drivers to long-range cameras able to resolve details at distances of many tens of kilometers. I had only a basic background in optics from my physics degree but it provided a foundation to quickly learn the intricacies of optical design, correcting for aberrations in lenses and optimizing material properties for different bands of the EM Spectrum.

My second role was in the Advanced Projects Group, performing work similar to that of a Postgraduate Research student. I worked on the development and testing of a Burst Illumination Laser (BIL). This was cutting-edge technology and I was able to find a real, practical use for the knowledge I learnt in Laser Physics at St Andrews. A simple analogy for BIL is to think of a typical photographic camera with a flash bulb. The flash illuminates the subject and the shutter is synchronized with the flash so that detector takes a snapshot of the subject when it is illuminated. With BIL the flash bulb is replaced with a laser, typically of a wavelength invisible to the human eye, and using basic speed-of-light calculations, and knowledge of distance to target (easily verified using the laser as a laser rangefinder) the detector can be told, with an accuracy microseconds, when to “open”. Thus a BIL operator can take a picture of an object, many kilometers away, with a flash of laser-light, lasting only a few nanoseconds.

In September 2007, after a year of working in Systems Engineering, I applied for an intensive Engineering Management course run by my parent company at their HQ in Rome. I was lucky enough to be selected as the UK participant for their international corporate MBA. I am now back to full-time education, working long hours but having good fun with a class of 30 talented students hailing from America, Africa, China, Russia and many other countries (15 different nationalities in total). The course is designed to teach technology management and innovation with top lecturers flown in from some of the best business schools in the world, such as MIT, INSEAD and London Business School.

I am the only physicist in my class, the majority having an engineering or economics background and I was pleased to find my St Andrews physics degree keeping me in good steed with my fellow students, who have graduated from the world’s top universities. Being a St Andrews graduate also helped me in an unexpected manner, as the high percentage of overseas students during my undergraduate years prepared me well in adjusting to the very multi-cultural environment I am currently experiencing.

At the end of this year I will be offered an exciting position within one of our operating companies – these cover industries such as energy production, helicopter and jet manufacturing, metropolitan train infrastructures, satellites and defense electronics. With a corporate MBA under my belt and a scientific background I hope to find myself a role where I can make strong contributions to the direction in which our cutting-edge R&D is undertaken.


"Transferable Skills for Physicists"

First posted BDS 6.3.08