"Before applying to university, I knew I wanted to do engineering because it seemed to include a lot of interesting work. I remember thinking it’s tricky to choose between the disciplines of mechanical, electrical, aeronautical and all the others when my experience had mostly been from maths and physics at school. I knew what engineers would go on to do – design iPads, bridges and Formula One cars but I hadn’t had much experience with the actual work they do day to day.
So when I saw Engineering Design at Bristol, it really appealed to me. By studying all the disciplines in the first year, you can build up a view of what you find interesting and what you enjoy. You then take the study further as you specialise but always build on strong multidisciplinary background. There is a focus on allowing you to select the units that interest you and that you will benefit from. In the 4th and 5th years, I took units which gave me a stronger focus on high power electronics because I knew by then I wanted to get into the energy business, but I was also able to study various open units from accountancy to computational neuroscience.
The placements are really where Engineering Design sets itself apart from other engineering courses. In a tough job market, it can hard to stand out when everyone has a good engineering degree from a good university. It can sometimes feel like employers are saying “Okay, so you’ve got a degree, fine, but what else have you got?” The opportunity to work for engineering companies for placements is so valuable and I’d recommend everyone to do it whether you’re applying to this course or not. Engineering Design is sponsored by some of the biggest and best companies at what they do. Some of the partner companies take hundreds of applications for internships, but if you’re on the Engineering Design course, you already have a foot in the door. My first placements were at Renishaw working on technical design projects within a team of engineers over two summers. I then worked for a year at Arup in Bristol in their consultancy business, which involved more design work, but also lots of business skills, travel and project management. By the end of my year placement I was managing my own projects in London, not just the engineering, but the contracts, client and budget.
You are guaranteed a challenge with this course. You will have to pick up ideas quickly and understand new concepts to help with technical units you take and with the design projects throughout the programme. The fact that they can give you hands-on design experience is really useful. Over the five year course I have had to learn how to use workshop machinery, rapid prototyping techniques, lab test equipment, all sorts of software and also talk to companies to commission items to be built. The multidisciplinary technical knowledge, communication, team working and leadership skillset that you develop makes you stand out to employers and allowed me to get the job I wanted, ahead of some really tough competition.
It is important to note that university is not all about work. In my time at Bristol I’ve been involved with various societies and have held positions on the committee for Engineers Without Borders which promotes international sustainable development. I’ve also been involved with sport including ski trips and played lacrosse for The University and for Bristol City. Bristol has so much to offer and there is loads to get involved with both within and outside The University."