I originally applied to the mechanical engineering scheme at Bristol. However, on the open day I had a free lecture slot and thought that the Engineering Design talk looked interesting. Following that talk I genuinely never looked back. The appeal and major advantages of Engineering Design over other courses were immediately apparent. Firstly, the small cohort sizes meant that you got far more individual attention than you would have on any other course. It is also ideal for anyone not sure on which engineering stream they are most interested in as you can choose to specialise in the latter years of the course. Finally, and by far the most valuable part of the course in my opinion, is the industry placement year. These things will allow you to set yourself above and beyond most other university graduates.
The first year of the course covers a broad range of engineering topics, allowing you to get a taste of the different engineering streams, from mechanical and civil to electrical and computing. The following year you start to specialise in one stream, with the benefit of having covered material from several areas of engineering. This allows you to expand on your interests and strengths, particularly in the fourth and fifth years. Ironically, I ended up choosing the mechanical stream anyway, and focussed on robotics in my final years.
The industry placement is one of the best ways you can stand out from a crowd of job applications. You are given real responsibility within the first week and are surrounded by a great support system. You can take on as much work as you can handle, the only limit is yourself. I did my placement at the Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry, who have some incredible equipment in their large workshop (including one of the largest lasers in the world!). Not only is the experience hugely valuable, you get paid to do it! The biggest benefit I got from my placement was a huge boost in confidence, mainly stemming from developing my own designs and presenting them to customers.
In my 4th and 5th years my main project involved combining the efforts of a human worker and a robot in developing carbon fibre structures. This research was truly novel and original, the findings of which have been taken to conferences and passed on to companies in various countries to help begin their own research in the area. Done over two years, you have a great opportunity to become a genuine expert in your chosen project’s field of engineering.
With all this you might think that there isn’t any time for sports and societies, but you’d be wrong. Nearly everyone on the course is heavily involved in any number of societies, from being social sec of the sailing club to treasurer of the snow sports society. In my final year alone, I was involved with triathlon, engineering rugby, tennis, orchestra, orienteering, BUILD (Bristol University Industry Led Design), and a five-a-side league.
Over 5 years this course has given me everything I could think of when I was 18 and so much more. To be able to study what I was interested in, to gain work experience while learning, to have the time to take part in whatever clubs and societies I wanted, and to make lifelong friends. I was also able to secure a graduate job during my final year. While I may be biased from my placement, I struggled to find other companies that compared with the incredible range of projects and technologies the MTC had to offer. Therefore I am delighted to say that my first role as a graduate will take place at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, where I know I will continue to grow and develop as I have done over the past 5 years.