The trump card for clean energy

By 28 February 2024 Comment

Sam Needham has worked as a research engineer at the Nuclear AMRC since August 2023, on a secondment through the Nuclear Graduates programme. As part of the programme, he also helped set up a company to encourage school students to consider a career in sustainable engineering and science. We asked him about his experiences.

Sam Needham with a hand of Energy Trumps cards

I finished university with a degree in aeronautical engineering and started looking at opportunities in the engineering industry. I have always had a passion for the environment and working sustainably, so I began looking at roles within the nuclear industry as nuclear is a key player in the green energy mix. That’s when I stumbled upon the Nuclear Graduates programme.

The programme gives amazing opportunities to young engineers like me who to find their feet and explore what roles are out there, develop skills and network with incredible professionals from across the industry. I have had the opportunity to be involved with a wide range of technical projects and make real contributions to their success.

I am sponsored by Rolls-Royce, and am now on secondment to the Nuclear AMRC as a research engineer. The Nuclear AMRC is a state-of-the-art research centre, employing the very best in manufacturing technologies and supply chain support. They collaborate with a wide range of companies, so they have been very valuable to me in terms of networking. The shopfloor at the Nuclear AMRC is a sight to behold, with technologies such as electron beam welding, virtual reality and robotic manufacturing.

One aspect of the Nuclear Graduates scheme involves starting an actual business and creating a product that will influence more young people to study the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – and consider a career in related jobs. This really aligned with my values and think it is a great opportunity to change the perception of the nuclear industry for the better.

Our company Energy Trumps has developed the product Power Clash which is a top trumps style game. It is aimed at Key Stage 3 students aged 11–14, but can be played by anyone! It includes competitive life-saver questions and dozens of fun facts. The game promotes low-carbon and sustainable energy sources like nuclear. All proceeds go to our incredible charity partner Stemettes which strives to inspire and support girls, young women and non-binary young people in STEM.

Power Clash cards from Energy Trumps

STEM subjects offer numerous benefits in terms of a career, by allowing you to develop your creativity, problem-solving and leadership skills while carrying out truly fulfilling work. STEM careers can also provide better job security and salaries than other industries.

STEM subjects tend to attract a negative stigma, especially towards girls, women and non-binary people. We want everyone regardless of gender to understand that STEM is a place for all and that there are endless opportunities for everyone willing to take that first step.

We are working with schools and the nuclear industry to bring these valuable educational resources into the classroom and inspire the next generation of leaders through camouflage learning. By supporting our mission and buying our packs, you are helping to address the labour and skills gap in the nuclear industry, promote the nuclear industry itself and gender diversity within STEM subjects.

The Nuclear AMRC has been incredibly supportive of our product, and will share packs with local schools which will make a massive difference to our mission. We hope that more nuclear companies will follow suit and support us too.