As part of our Technician Commitment award we are showcasing the valuable role our technicians play across the University in helping Essex deliver excellence in research and excellence in education.

In this blog specialist technician in the Department of Psychology Elena Broggin reflects on her time volunteering in The David Sainsbury Gallery at The Science Museum, where she shines a light on her job and hopes to inspire children to pursue a career in science. 


Elena Broggin in the Technician Gallery at the Science Museum

Why are you volunteering in the technician gallery?

Giving back to the community and celebrating science is a massive part of what drives my career and I jumped at the chance to volunteer.

And The David Sainsbury Gallery at the Science Museum is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience to show how important technicians are to schoolchildren.

When I was their age, I had no idea what I wanted to do and by giving them a glimpse of life as a technician hopefully, I will help broaden their horizons.

This is part of the reason I am so proud to be part of Essex’s Technician Commitment as I want to showcase my job and hopefully inspire young people to pursue a career in science.

What is the benefit of doing it and what do you like about it?

I’ve loved volunteering in the technician gallery, and it has been a fun and enjoyable experience. I’ve received some incredible training on how to engage with teenagers and it has really allowed me to develop my public speaking skills.

It also expanded my professional network and I’ve met like-minded fellow technicians and learned a lot from them.

Also, on a purely selfish level, I’ve never been to the Science Museum before, and it gave me the chance to visit it and interact with some amazing exhibits!

How has Essex supported you in volunteering?

Everyone has been very supportive and let me volunteer during my normal working hours, which is obviously a bonus!

I should single out The Faculty Dean of Research, Edward Codling and my manager Steven Brewer, who encouraged me to volunteer and really pushed me to take part.

The Faculty of Science and Health covered all the costs associated with volunteering and training at the Science Museum, which is amazing.

What is your role at Essex and what are your main duties?

I am a specialist technician at the Department of Psychology, and I work closely with the world-leading researchers at Essex.

In general, I use my initiative, creativity, and problem-solving skills to find practical solutions to complex scientific problems, such as collecting significant and conflicting information.

My day-to-day job is very varied. On any given week I can be contributing towards the development of research and experiments, repairing faulty equipment, managing resources, and ensuring the maintenance of a safe and effective working environment.

What was your career background before Essex?

Before coming to Essex, I had a very varied career in Psychology and Science. I trained in Italy to become a Psychologist and I achieved a PhD studying dissociations between visual perception and awareness.

I then worked as a research associate on a rehabilitation treatment for patients with acquired dyslexia.

During these years I had the chance to use different techniques to measure behaviour (eye tracker, psychometric tests, EEG, etc) and this sparked a fascination with the minutiae of how these techniques and equipment work.

What do you enjoy most and least about the job?

I just love helping students and researchers to fulfil their potential and achieve their scientific and personal goals.

Having worked in research I know how frustrating it is when your work hits a technical hitch. Now I’m part of the solution and being part of a team who crack a difficult problem is incredibly satisfying.

The part I like the least is tidying up cables under desks… however, it’s something that needs to be done especially for safety!!!

What advice would you give to aspiring technicians?

My number one tip is to do an apprenticeship in the area they want to work in.

Technical roles are so varied and can require in-depth knowledge of very specialised equipment, so it is vital to pinpoint what you want to do.

Also, it is always worth speaking to experienced technicians to have a better idea of what the role entails, rather than reading the job description. I’m more than happy to talk to any students who want to find out more about life as a technician.