Having studied Chemical Engineering at university, it was always important to me that I used my degree to go into an environmentally friendly career. In my second year at the University of Cambridge, FairHeat gave an interesting presentation on district heating; it caught my attention and made me curious to know more. It only took a couple of Google searches to see that FairHeat are industry leaders in an exciting emerging industry in the UK – Heat Networks. An industry I didn’t even know Chemical Engineers could even be a part of. I applied for the summer internship role in 2021, which would take place in my third year at university, and I was delighted after an interview to be accepted for the internship.

Hit the ground running!

Arriving on my first day was initially a little daunting but I was made to feel at ease by everyone in the office. FairHeat has a very welcoming and supportive environment and actively encourages questions. It was great to have a fellow intern, Kishan Amin, with me on the journey. In a matter of days, we went from complete novice to helping assess network performance for our clients, thanks to many wonderful people taking time out of their day to explain the ins and outs of the heat networks. From the very first day, both Kishan and I were given a lot of responsibility working on client projects, but throughout the process we were guided by team members and never felt out of our depth.

Dynamic Work Environment

There are two main engineering teams in the company: the New Build team, which handle the design of new buildings, and the Operations team, which handle retrofits and the performance of pre-established networks. Although I got to experience both sides, I was mainly on the Operations team which involved helping in the design retrofit of sites in London and Manchester. FairHeat put extra emphasis on ensuring I learned new skills throughout the summer. I was able to split my time between the London office and home which was very important during COVID times. The team were very good at getting Kishan and myself into the office when they could and supporting us with regular check-ups when we were working at home.

Part of the job for designing and maintaining networks is visiting site. I was able to go and visit both a New Build site and an Operations site. Both sites gave me a chance to see real-life networks (they look very different from the schematics!) and the challenges associated with commissioning new sites or managing wear and tear on old ones. Before going on site, I was a little apprehensive but when there I felt very safe and well supported, not just by FairHeat but by other workers on site. FairHeat have a great system for women on construction sites to ensure we have the correct facilities and support.

It is a real plus for me that FairHeat is based in London: I live just outside the city and from home the commute to the company’s central location in London Bridge was easy. Being right next to Borough market also meant I was able to sample some of the delicious food for my lunches. FairHeat take full advantage of being in London by organising regular social activities like drinks and even a sports day, which was a great way to get to know everyone and see a bit of London. Being able to use my technical skills and knowledge from my course directly is important to me and to do this in London as opposed to a rural location (often where Chemical Engineering jobs are based) is a bonus.

Making a Difference

As part of our internship, both Kishan and I were asked to do a project for FairHeat in an area of interest for the company, mine was focused on investigating the sizing of thermal stores. I was able to develop my coding skills and gain a better understanding on the topic. By the end of summer, my project suggested the rule of thumb for sizing thermal stores used by the industry might need to change, which was really exciting. FairHeat prides itself on challenging the industry standards to further progress, and to help contribute to that was a great feeling.

If you are interested in knowing more about my project, watch out for the report on the research page.

My summer with FairHeat was enriching, varied, and engaging. I’ve learnt so much about the district heating industry and with their support have developed a real passion for it. I was very excited to be offered a Graduate Engineer role in FairHeat’s Graduate Scheme 2022 and have now come back full-time alongside 7 incredible young engineers.