• Question: What Is The Hardest Thing You Have Ever Done?

    Asked by LBG06 to Phil, Hollie, Stephen on 8 Mar 2018. This question was also asked by 387satm47.
    • Photo: Phil Allen

      Phil Allen answered on 8 Mar 2018:


      In work: probably what I’m doing at the moment. I’m overseeing the manufacture of a bi-propellant rocket propulsion system for a satellite. It’s got quite a few challenges as everything has to be kept so clean and there are pipes running everywhere! Fortunately I’ve got a great team and we’re gettign through it.

      Outside of work: I did a car engine swap. I thought “how hard can it be?” – turns out really hard. it took about 2 years for me to get the car running again.

      What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Or do you have any big challenges coming up?

    • Photo: Hollie Heard

      Hollie Heard answered on 9 Mar 2018:


      Lots of things can be hard for lots of different reasons, but it’s how we approach the challenge and come up with solutions for them. Trying to finish off my doctorate in the next 6 months is going to be very hard, but I have a plan of action and a great team around me to support me through it. At work, the most challenging thing has probably been teaching myself statistical analysis, (I was always better at the mechanical side of maths), to develop an optimisation process so that we can understand and control the phase, (different structures of the same material that have different properties), content of deposited tantalum coatings. I have also had to push myself and my research into doing things that I’m not always comfortable doing which can be hard, like giving presentations as getting up in front of and talking to people is something that I I find quite daunting. It does get easier the more the you do it though and is a really useful skill to be able to communicate your work. Outside of my work, one of the hardest things was having to trek over mountains in the Indian Himalaya with severe altitude sickness. There were times I felt like I couldn’t continue, but I did and the experiences I had like camping under the Milky Way in the sky on the side of a mountain made all the effort worthwhile. The things we find the hardest, are often those that teach us the most and give us the opportunity to grow and develop so sometimes we have to push ourselves.

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