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Life in the fast stream


My name is Katie and I work in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as a Science and Engineering Fast Streamer. I started in October 2011 and for my first role I’ve been placed in the Evidence Team. This is part of our Chief Scientist David Mackay’s group* and our aim is to make sure that all of DECC’s policies are based on a consistent and rigorous evidence base (how we try and do this is a topic I’ll save for another time!). I also do small ad hoc research tasks for policy teams. For someone who likes science but never wanted to work in a lab, it’s a great job. I feel very lucky and still have to pinch myself occasionally when I remember where I am.

This week I attended the Government Science and Engineering conference, which is run by the Government Office for Science (who are based in BIS). This event was a celebration of the contribution that scientists and engineers in government make to the civil service, as well as a chance to network and find out about other interesting opportunities that exist . Sir John Beddington, who is the Chief Scientist for the whole of government, not only has an extremely cool job but is very passionate about the Science and Engineering profession. One of the highlights of being on the Science and Engineering Fast Stream is getting a chance to meet him and get a first-hand account of what he does.

There are two things I love about the Fast Stream so far. The first is the chance to do so much training. Getting paid to learn about really interesting things is pretty amazing. Within DECC there are “DECC Schools” run by different members of staff, which help you to learn about other things going on in the department. I’ve also been on several Fast Stream specific courses. The second is the feeling that every job you will take on will be completely different and inevitably fascinating. It may be a tough slog to get in, but it’s completely worth it. Good luck!

* If you haven’t heard of him and you’re interested in sustainable energy, check out his free book online. It’s highly worth a read.

Filed under: Climate Change, Low carbon, Science, Uncategorized

Comments: 16 Comments on Life in the fast stream
Posted on: Feb 13 2012

16 Responses to “Life in the fast stream”

  1. [...] Department of Energy and Climate Change Blog [...]

  2. Jan Ayliffe says:

    Congrats. on your job which you are happy with. Have u read David’s Sunday Times input 20.11.11 Wind Turbines are not the solution ?! Look at the research on human suffering for on shore wind farms and look into Marine distruption re. off shore wind farms. Jan Ayliffe retired Marine Biologist.

  3. Will Jones says:

    Hi, Katie,
    Blowing my own trumpet a little, but as an engineer of the dirty handed variety with an interest in environmental matters, I’m trying to raise awareness of the fuel savings to be made by fitting chimney dampers to open fires in domestic homes. While open fires will never be an efficient way to burn fuel compared to stoves, we have a rich architectural heritage of beautiful fireplaces, which can and should be preserved, particularly if their negative effect on the efficiency of the home when not in use can be mitigated. In the U.S. it’s very rare to see an open fire with a permanently open flue…..but here it’s the norm…..and changing that would save an awful lot of fuel and corresponding carbon emmissions.

  4. Good to not only learn about your job Katie, but that you have a passion for it. So many hands on skills have been lost to my regret. Liaising with those who work the land and waterways is a good start. As a research project why not look into information and listing of crafts still available but underused? Eg: the provision and planned preventative measure to clear water way and canals as well as conduits blocked up in Saddleworth, Yorkshire? It would be interesting to have a reverse alphabet listing and short information on these craftspersons. In Saddleworth there is a community day where dry stone walling is displayed. I’m sure you can know a lot more than me so will be interesting to see. Thank you for your openness and info. Christine.

  5. Hal Jones says:

    Great blog Katie. I would be very interested to hear how David’s thinking has progressed since writing Without the Hot Air. You must be well placed to know whether there are any aspects of the book that would be significantly changed? It would be great to hear from you on this.

  6. Craig Anderson says:

    Hi Katie
    Great to hear of your new post. Is there any update on whether 20-40% of Green Deal packages will be funded by ECO and made available to all ( not just Super Priority Groups). Appears that BGas GD Trial has shown less than 5% GD take -up likely on Golden- Rule only , indicating that ECO grant will be essential. Any news from your policy colleagues on the level of ECO likely to be committed into GD yet? If you want a visit to see implementation of CESP/CERT on the ground we would be delighted to host you. Best wishes, Craig ( Craig Anderson, Projects Director, Warm Wales 0779 336 9169 )

  7. Nat Stott says:

    congratulations on getting the dream job!.
    One of the things I thought the new team would be doing is to try and develop the model that David MacKay illustrated in the book, collecting evidence along the way so that the model can inform energy policy. I think this is a vital piece of work, as so many initiatives on energy seem to be made in isolation, and often based on hope rather than science. I am a public sector energy manager, and I know how hard it is to develop a long term strategy on carbon reduction without a plan of how the national energy infrastructure is going to change.

    Keep up the good work, and keep posting.

  8. Will Grant says:

    Katie, I’m delighted that you’re delighted with your insight into the working with DECC, I can understand how good it is to meet with these influential people. I wonder if they are aware of the public disquiet over the Government’s ‘green policies’? I and many of my friends who are also engineers are concerned that the government is ‘taxing jobs out of Britain’ and increasing the cost of energy for the population generally?
    People are becoming angry and the government seems to be making matters worse! Being an engineer is a best profession, good luck!

    • Clancolin says:

      “I wonder if they are aware of the public disquiet over the Government’s ‘green policies’?”

      I wonder if you are aware of scientists disquiet worldwide about how serious climate change is?

      ” I and many of my friends who are also engineers are concerned that the government is ‘taxing jobs out of Britain’ and increasing the cost of energy for the population generally?”

      The world needs renewable energy. It isn’t a choice – there just isn’t enough oil for you to burn, as much as you might want to. The Chanceller just put 3p on a litre of fuel and it’s labelled a disaster – what will happen when fuel is twice the price it is now, due to worldwide shortages?
      There are plenty of jobs being created across the globe in green development – we’d do better to encourage the Government to make more of an effort to ensure that these jobs and the resulting wealth come to the UK.

      • Jonathan Coates says:

        Will Grant, in his comments above, is not alone. We are seeing very many energy intensive processes (tiles, crockery etc.) being moved to China where they have less efficient equipment and produce more CO2 as a result. It hits UK Gov. targets but makes the global problem worse. The worst bit is the job losses here.

  9. robert hudson says:

    hello katie, as much as i enjoy and support your enthusiasm i really don’t buy into the whole ‘we are destroying the planet’ gig. i am a believer in- it’s part of the earth’s cycle. hot, cold, bake, freeze. yes, i accept to a certain degree ploughing co2 into the atmosphere is not a positive move, but that’s a long way from ‘we’re all doomed’ thanks anyway and good luck with the career.

    • Clancolin says:

      ” i really don’t buy into the whole ‘we are destroying the planet’ gig.” Either you haven’t seen enough evidence, or you are ignoring it – either way, you are very wrong to think everything is just dandy.

      “i am a believer in- it’s part of the earth’s cycle. hot, cold, bake, freeze”. Cycles are true, but this warming phase ought to be a cooling phase – why is this? Climates are changing now because of excess greenhouse gases – NOT natural cycles.

      “i accept to a certain degree ploughing co2 into the atmosphere is not a positive move” YOU THINK!??

      , but that’s a long way from ‘we’re all doomed’ – it’s about 2C away from it. We have lifted global temperatures by about 1C -lifting another 2C will take probably between 20-50 years, depending how many people keep their head in the sand and refuse to accept where global warming is taking us all.

  10. You may be interested to know of Wrexham Environmental Network, a newly formed not-for-profit organisation who are already doing great things. WEN provides a platform to bridge the gap between legislation, industry, commerce, industry, education, individuals & the community; sharing evironmental best practice, facilitating new ideas to achieve sustainable global ideals. It’s drawing in expertise, enthusiasm and knowledge from all sectors and all professions. Please get in touch to help us “bridge the legislation gap”. Regards Denise Nicholls, Chair

  11. Bill Parker says:

    Good luck, Katie. I hope you will be in the vanguard of those young scientists who create a rational, long term approach to Energy means and policy – possibly for he first time, since the early ‘sixties.
    One hopes environmental controls will not be over-focussed on Carbon Dioxide and that they become rather more than a means of taxation and political sound bites.

  12. Ivette says:

    Hello! You are working in one of my favorites areas. I am a chemical engineer and have dedicated to the environment (mostly to air and water issues). I am interest in the book and will be reading it, as per your recomendation. Keep with the enthusiasm!!!

  13. mike reardon says:

    Great blog.As the former Director of the Greater Manchester Environment Commission and before that a senior executive in local government,I can offer a local government perspective on environment,energy etc or just a LG perspective if you ever wanted that!.As I also spewent six years as a senior civil servant in the old ODPM (2000-2006) I have seen life from the other side of the fence as well!

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