Mark Clowes, Astrophysics with English

I work as a flow metering engineer, validating the natural gas metering systems used by large gas producers/consumers. The amount of gas they transfer is vast and represents a lot of money so they want their measurements to be as accurate and precise as possible. The metering systems consist of a variety of measurement elements such as high accuracy pressure and temperature gauges, ultrasonic meters, and gas chromatographs, the data from which is aggregated to measure the flowrate. My job is to audit and calibrate these systems, and ensure all are operating within tolerance.

I also help write software, such as for data processing and business administration, and look after the IT systems (Windows and Linux servers). For this the company has provided training for me to gain Microsoft Certified IT Professional status.

A high attention to detail, good numeracy and scientific and technical skills are very important. The work is very varied and the ability to rapidly solve new problems is a skill that studying astrophysics certainly prepared me for. Having studied English also helps me bridge the gap that many find difficult of distilling complex subjects down to a form that is easily communicable, which is a great and useful skill to have.

I currently travel within the UK, but there is opportunity within the company for business travel to Spain, Greece, Russia, India, Qatar, and Algeria, and many other countries, as well as off-shore oil and gas drilling platforms. There is always a new challenge or something to learn. I can also work from home (or wherever I find myself), which is very convenient