Working with scientists at the Met Office

What started as a fascination with technology as a child later led Samuel to work alongside scientists at the Met Office.

The University of Derby was recommended to Samuel by a friend who came to an Open Day. From that initial recommendation, Samuel has gone on to gain experience at the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather service.

“Without a doubt, my biggest success so far has been my placement. My experience has been fantastic,” says Samuel. “With my colleagues in the UM (Unified Model) Partnership team, I work on a scientific and technical collaboration that explores weather and climate predictions. By using a shared modelling system, we're able to reduce costs and efficiency. I’ve been exposed to various complex technologies, including supercomputers, that I have never seen before, and worked with scientists, developers and engineers who are so talented.”

Samuel continues: “The Met Office works very closely with partners such as Bureau of Meteorology / CSIRO (Australia), US Air Force, KMA in South Korea and MoES / NCMRWF in India. We frequently need to coordinate team meetings together even if we are 12 hours apart. It's worth every minute, and the knowledge I've gained from these experts is priceless.”

Samuel Voltolini, a BSc (Hons) Computer Science student, in the Peak District
Samuel at Bamford Edge in the Peak District

Pursuing his dream

Samuel’s interest in computer science started way back in his childhood. “I have always been fascinated by technology, and ever since I graduated from high school I have wanted to work in the field of software engineering. I have a particular interest in app development; I believe the society we live in is more connected than ever, and I wanted to be a part of this revolution. Computer science is essential for me because it exposes me to all the tools need to pursue my dream.”

It was Samuel’s friend who recommended Derby to him after coming to an Open Day. “They showed him some of the labs and benefits of being a student at Derby. Soon after, he commented on how wonderful the labs were and encouraged me to attend an open day to see for myself.”

His studies have led to him earning the Pro Vice-Chancellor/Dean’s Award, an award that recognises academic accomplishment and performance, as well as being selected to take part in the Erasmus programme. “I can’t forget about being selected for the Erasmus programme to travel to Romania and help structure the computer science program at the Alba Iulia University.”

Samuel and his friends in Elvaston
Samuel and his friends at a meet up in Elvaston

In the heart of the country

Samuel loves Derby for its location. “Derby has beautiful countryside which I adore”, he says. “There are so many lovely sights and its location is unique; being in the Midlands, it is in the heart of the United Kingdom, allowing me to visit the rest of the country. I can get in a car with some pals, take the bus, or take the train and we can go wherever we want.”

He continues, “I believe there is room in Derby for everyone, from those who appreciate nature to those who prefer clubbing all night.”

Student in the XR lab wearing a VR headset
A student using equipment in our XR lab

Skills, support and experience

Samuel points out many factors that contributed to his time at Derby, including the lecturers, facilities and additional skills he’s gained along the way.

“Working with Virtual Reality development and gaming development have been fantastic and thrilling experiences,” he says. “I'd also like to express my gratitude to my software engineering lecturer in particular. He frequently counselled and assisted me with software engineering concerns and challenges. During the interview process for my placement, he looked through the material I had and advised me on how to proceed during the interviews and how to answer certain critical software engineering questions, so I owe him a great deal of gratitude.”

He also explains some of the excellent support he’s received from the wider University: “The University in general has been remarkably beneficial to me. During my second year, I faced several personal issues, but I was always heard and respected. On top of the technical knowledge I gained, I learned how to work with people, how to be a team player, how to support others and how to be supported. I also greatly improved my social skills, which I can now see in action at my workplace.”

Samuel and his friends on a night out in Derby
Samuel and his friends on a night out in Derby

Samuel's advice

Samuel has great advice for anyone thinking of studying at university: “I believe you should brace yourself for obstacles because you will need to step outside of your comfort zone and work hard to achieve your goals” he says. “You will need to learn how to manage your time, tasks, and projects while still taking the best care of yourself.”

He continues: “The best part is that you will have assistance; if you get stuck, someone will be there to assist you. If you ever decide to pursue a placement, there will be a dedicated team to assist you with whatever you require and to advise you on the best approach to proceed. This course might be difficult, so create relationships with people who share your passion in the subject; assisting one other is the greatest way to progress.”

And lastly: “Don't forget to have fun while studying” he says. “I believe Derby has so many locations to visit with friends or alone that you will have a great time here. Work hard, make new friends, and have a good time.”

a female and male student with coding projected onto their face with lights

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