Rhys Phillips graduated from Cardiff University in 2008 with a joint honours degree in Mathematics & Physics. During his studies, he focused on topics including chaos theory, combinatorics, electromagnetics, electronics, fluid dynamics, linear & dynamical systems, mathematical analysis, matrix algebra, multivariable calculus, optics, quantum mechanics, relativity, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and acoustics. His final year research project, The Physics of Musical Instruments can be read here. Throughout sixth form and university, Rhys worked part time as a waiter at The Great House Hotel in Laleston.
In 2009 he joined the EADS DS UK Graduate Scheme in Newport where his rotations included FiReControl, EADS Foundation Wales and the Cyber Security Customer Solution Centre. In November 2009, the graduate scheme won a National Training Award – you can find out more about the award here. He now works within EADS Innovation Works UK as a Research Engineer in the Lightning, Electrostatics & EMH group. As airlines look for lighter aircraft which use less fuel to reduce both their running costs and their carbon footprint, an increased amount of carbon-fibre composite material is being used over the more traditional aluminium to provide the required weight reduction. As carbon-fibre has a much lower electrical conductivity than aluminium, it cannot dissipate the high currents and voltages induced by lightning strikes as easily. The group are developing innovative methods to optimise lightning strike protection of this new generation of aircraft. For more information on the work Rhys does with the group, read his career profile for mathscareers.org, listen to an interview with him for Travels in a Mathematical World or read an article about him published in Mathematics Today.
Rhys is a keen science communicator and has launched a series of science variety nights which are currently touring the UK. In June 2011, he took part in I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here and in November 2011, he was a regional finalist in Famelab.
In April 2010, Rhys won the Western Aerospace Centre Competition for his work with EADS on Electrostatic Discharge in Carbon-fibre Composite Aircraft Structures. This resulted in a prize of £500 plus a day with the Red Arrows at RAF Scampton. You can read the abstract he submitted here. You can also read newspaper articles on the competition from the Glamorgan Gazette, South Wales Argus and South Wales Echo. In November 2011, Rhys won the Institute of Physics’ Early Career Physics Communicator Award for ‘his amazing range of activities, engaging with a wide range of audiences and his strong legacy going forward with new initiatives’. This resulted in a prize of £250.
Rhys does voluntary work for schools as part of the STEM Ambassadors Scheme. This includes giving career talks, setting engineering challenges, tutoring, mentoring, attending careers fayres, judging science competitions and hosting school groups and work experience students at EADS. His work as a STEM Ambassador was recognised in March 2011 when he was awarded a certificate for ‘significant contribution’ to the scheme and then again in December 2011 when he won the Most Dedicated STEM Ambassador 2011 award at a ceremony held at the House of Lords with a prize of a holiday to Geneva including a guided tour of the facilities at CERN. The Welsh Livery Guild also awarded Rhys a special prize of £1000 in September 2011 to allow him to develop skills and resources for engaging with schools.
He also sits on the Communities Committee UK and the South Wales Local Network committees of the Institution of Engineering and Technology where his roles include maintaining the website and mailing lists, representing the IET in schools as a STEM & Faraday Ambassador, presenting podcasts and organising events.