Rhys Archer

Final day! Don't forget to use the ASK button or ask questions at the live chat this afternoon!



Studied English Literature, Maths, Physics and Textiles at Alevel. Then studied Physics for a year at University of Manchester before changing course to Materials Science. Started a PhD in Materials Science last year.


Alevels – AABD (D in Physics! Ask me about it!) 2:1 degree in Materials Science, University of Manchester

Work History:

Everywhere! I undertook work experience in a lab in Materials Science in Health and Safety Labs, and since have worked at cafes, music shops, Primark, Waterstones, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah race relations centre, Wilmslow nursery, University of Manchester as an ambassador, tutor, mentor, teacher, charity project manager and youth outreach worker!

Current Job:

PhD researcher in Materials Science


The University of Mancheser

Me and my work

Making and breaking carbon fibre composites!

As a PhD researcher I make carbon fibre (a really strong  but really light material – ask me!) composites and then try to break them in different ways to measure how strong they are.

We use carbon fibre composites in things like cars, aeroplanes and spacecraft so its really important that we know how strong the material is when its been hit and how long until it breaks compeltly.

I find this out by testing the materials, by reading what other people have done with the materials before and what they found, and by talking to people in companies who use this material.


When I have all my experiments results, I look at the results and try to find a formula through maths that can easily explain its behaviour and why it is as strong, or not strong, as it is.

My Typical Day

Experimenting, looking at results, writing reports, talking to young people, reading reports – lots!

My typical day can be really different day by day!

Sometimes I will be making the carbon fibre composites – I do this by layering the material and then stick it together using a glue we call a resin.


Sometimes I will be in the lab breaking the composites. I use machines to try tear it apart, break it down the middle, and hit it with a really fast metal sphere – all to measure how strong it is.


Sometimes I will spend my time reading what tests other people have done on this material, and what results they found.

Sometimes I will look at my own results and try to figure out an equation through maths that explains them.


Sometimes I will go to a company who uses the material and see how they make it and what they use it for and how it performs.

Sometimes I go into schools across the UK to talk to young people about science and engineering. I give fun workshops and talks about what studying science and engineering is like and what jobs you can do.


What I'd do with the money

Make leaflets on science and engineering for young people and schools, and giving talks

I think its really important that young people in schools know about all the different types of science and engineering that you can do and the jobs it can lead to so I would create a fun leaflet to send to schools to help students learn more about science and engineering.

I would also produce a leaflet for girls in science and engineering as I think its important that young female students who want to become an engineer or scientist have positive role models to read about.

With any remaining money, I would use it to pay for travel to and from schools so I could go to the schools myself and give a talk about why the leaflets are important and to meet some of the students who like science and engineering.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Ambitious, engaging and passionate

Who is your favourite singer or band?

David Bowie

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

White water rafting in America!

What did you want to be after you left school?

Nobel prize winning physicist who also runs a charity for the community

Were you ever in trouble at school?

YES – I can be a bit of a chatterbox…

What was your favourite subject at school?

Physics and Textiles – Ask me about how I manage to combine these two in my work!

What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?

Working with young people!

If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?

A photographer! I love photography!

Tell us a joke.

Why can’t you trust atoms? Because they make up everything!

Other stuff

Work photos:

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