Sara Vicoso Moreno
We spoke with Sara Vicoso Moreno, a 2020 graduate of our MMath Mathematics programme. Sara is now working as an Energy Market and Systems Modeler at Aurora Energy Research.
Where are you at the moment?
I’m currently working in Oxford. I graduated in May 2020 and in November, when my partner found a job here, I moved down with him.
I work for Aurora Energy Research; what we do is we model energy markets and systems. We then provide either a subscription service where clients can see our forecasts and make decisions based on that, or a commission project where we model something specific that answers their questions. We also offer software as a service, where clients can use tools based on our models to run their own analysis.
I’m part of the modelling team, the people that work behind the scenes and maintain the models that we have. I haven't worked directly with clients yet because I'm still in training, but, from my understanding, my colleagues tend to work on about two projects at a time, though we all work closely together.
It’s been really great working with the company and the team of modellers, we’re all from similar backgrounds and are interested in similar things, which include maths, coding and building models. So it's really easy to understand each other.
Can you tell us a bit about your time at University?
I think I’ll start with why I went to university, which is that I love learning. It was almost like a dream, from when I was a kid, to go. I really enjoyed the process of learning at the University of Edinburgh, I got to choose all the courses I was interested in and just do them.
While I was doing my A Levels in high school I found that I really enjoyed doing maths, it's like a puzzle and it applies to all walks of life. When I was researching degrees, I found out that there are maths courses at Edinburgh for so many subjects: maths applied to physics, maths applied to biology, maths applied to music, straight up pure maths. I really enjoyed the broadness of what was on offer here, so I chose to do the MMath.
I knew, from the start that I would like to do a graduate degree. I thought that, because it's such a broad one, maths would still be applicable to my interests by the time I got to fourth year and that I’d want to go into fifth year. Another contributing factor was that it's classified as an undergraduate degree, so it was still covered by my undergraduate tuition fees from SAAS; that was a big point for me because I didn't know if I would be able to afford it by fifth year.
The things that I learned during my time at university definitely helped me after I graduated. My fourth year project was on optimizing power systems. Due to the MMath’s integrated masters I was able to do a fifth year course in my fourth year, so I took Operational Research in the Energy Industry, which part of my project was inspired by. The course, and my project, led pretty well into the work that I’m doing now. I was quite lucky that it worked out that way. I also really enjoyed doing my dissertation, which was very daunting before I did it; going in depth into a specific subject is quite rewarding if you like maths, learning and finding things out.
In more general terms, I think my MMath degree was useful because it gave me more work opportunities. For example, the role I currently have was only open to individuals with a graduate degree, so if I didn't have that extra year I might not have gotten the job. Obviously for me that aspect of the MMath was important, but it also gave me the chance to learn so much more. I had a whole year of extra courses to take, so things that I didn’t have time for before, I could do then.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our students?
Do things because you’re interested in them, and also try to take something away; try to think, while you're doing it, about how it helped to develop your skills. Remember to do this, I didn't think about these things while I was at university, so when I finished and asked myself, “okay, so what did I do and was it useful for me?”, it was harder to answer. So definitely keep that in mind.