Nikita Alexander

When choosing my university degree, I had literally no idea what type of engineering I wanted to go into. All I knew was that I really enjoyed seeing a project brief go from concept generation through design development to the final product. All courses that I applied for were ‘General Engineering’ courses, but what drew me to the Engineering Design course was how enthusiastic all the students were and how interesting their industrial placements sounded.


Once I joined Bristol, I started to really understand the perks of having a small cohort. By the end of the first week I knew everyone on my course, which made going to lecture theatres with 200 people in it significantly less daunting because you knew you could always find someone from Eng Des. This support structure became more invaluable as you progressed through the course. In the first couple of years, it allowed people to upload pictures of their solutions to the fluid mechanics question we had all been struggling with on our Eng Des Facebook group. During the placement year, it meant you had people who really understood how big a deal your ‘mini wins’ at work really were and who could join you on your payday spending sprees! And then during the final two years, it was these friends who supported you through all the job applications and who you get to work with on a really exciting final year project.  


My placement year was where my confidence as an engineer was cemented. I was in the Intelligent Automation team at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry and worked on two projects. The first involved creating a robotic demonstrator for a national exhibition. I attended machine vision courses and basic robotic programming training. This project was so exciting as I got to see my robot demo sketches become a reality and was in charge of all aspects of the project including the budget! My second project was a European funded project made up of four engineering companies across Europe. This project was an amazing project to work on as my engineering network grew substantially through the business trips to Denmark and Germany and I was exposed to different working styles. It also improved my leadership skills greatly as I was selected as the UK Lead for a specific work package. This role involved organising an Open Lab at MTC where we invited over 100 small and medium enterprises and worked out how automation could help with their businesses. Organising this event meant I got to deal with multiple stakeholders and had to delegate tasks to different people, including staff who were much more senior than me.


Through the Engineering Design course, I was offered a job as a Systems Engineer at Novel Engineering Consultants, a small aerospace company based in Bristol. Even though I have only been working here for a couple of months so far, I have learnt so much about the aerospace industry and am already responsible for multiple projects which is definitely one of the advantages of small companies. More and more universities are realising the importance of industrial placement years but I believe that it is the Engineering Design staff who differentiate our course from everyone else’s. The Engineering Design staff go above and beyond to support you throughout the degree. This includes things like finding a PhD student to help you with a Matlab modelling project, to introducing and setting up interviews for graduate jobs - I have had first-hand experience of both. This course has really shaped the kind of engineer I am today and I cannot recommend it enough!

Systems Engineer, Novel Engineering Consultants
Edit this page