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Career development case studies

Student case studies

 StephanieHimmer


Vacation Placement

Stephanie Hirmer, BEng Civil Engineer

After my 2nd year during the summer vacation I undertook a feasibility study on hydro-power in Uganda. I became interested in hydro-power after a fascinating lecture. Following further discussions with the lecturer, Dr Colin Oram, who is himself involved in development work, we began planning a project for the summer. Three other students and I received a grant from EPSRC through the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) and this enabled us to undertake the feasibility study. This was also supported by a travel scholarship from the Arthur Shercliff Memorial Trust. With the funding received we were able to not only complete a feasibility study but go onto implement a 1.5kW hydro-power scheme in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda. This project has given me a fantastic knowledge of how to conduct field research, how to use the appropriate equipment and also enabled me to understand river flow, soil structures and project management.

My experience has greatly enhanced my understanding of engineering materials and technologies. It has shown me how important it is to be able to work in a team and thus be able to draw on everyone’s strength to gain the best possible result. Furthermore this trip has allowed me to improve my communication skills and network with many people, one of whom has offered me an internship at his firm GTZ. I now feel sure that I want to pursue a career in Civil Engineering, ideally in development.

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Industrial placement

David Watkins, 4th year MEng Mechanical Engineer

I decided to undertake my internship at WMG to boost my employability by gaining industrial experience.

The internship aimed to build on the success of a prototype device created to assist open water swimmers. Manufactured in 2010, this initial prototype showed a reduction in the overall distance that swimmers cover in open water.

A meeting with a major sportswear company highlighted various aspects that must be improved and incorporated into a secondary prototype. The size of the electronics had to be reduced, the cost should be kept to an absolute minimum and finally the device should be simple to operate. The possibility of increasing the functionality was also discussed; the inclusion of a lap counter and timer would make the gadget more appealing.

The selection of optics played an important part in the design rationale. TFEL, LCD and LED technologies were all considered as options with LEDs being deemed most appropriate. Significant effort went into selecting smaller electronic components and in the design of the printed circuit board.

With regards to mechanical design, a casing and attachment mechanism was produced using Solidworks. A CT scan of the goggles to be used supplied reference points, this allowed the attachment mechanism to be designed in a more robust manner.

Whilst difficulty with programming meant the device was never fully operational, the experience gained and the skills developed made the internship truly beneficial. Being able to approach employers and discuss my time at WMG has provided me with a significant advantage over my fellow students.

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Vacation Working with Conductix-Wampfler

Neil Forbes, 2nd year MEng Systems Engineering

Since July 2011, I have been working for Conductix-Wampfler UK, a manufacturing and engineering company with a focus on power systems for mobile equipment, which is owned by the Delachaux Group of France. The UK Operations are based just outside of Manchester, with 30 employees working on site.

Initially, my work involved the company’s Quality Management System (QMS), which required updating in order to maintain the company’s ISO 9001 certification. The business-wide nature of the QMS enabled me to gain a broad appreciation of the functions, crucial for the business to perform successfully, spending time in Operations, Engineering, Production, Sales and Accounts. Conductix-Wampfler UK was also in the process of achieving accreditation for ISO 14001, an international standard recognising Environmental Management. As the summer progressed I was able to take an active role in this process, which proved to be an interesting and satisfying experience.

As a continuation of the work over the summer, I returned for the assessment of the Environmental Management System for a few days in November as well as during the Christmas vacation. At this point, the company was accredited to ISO 14001. Being a part of the process was very rewarding. This has led to further work in my vacations, as well as the opportunity of working with the company during my Third Year Project next year, something which I am very grateful for. Industrial experience is something I would highly recommend. By spending time out in the ‘real world’, important life skills are gained. I have found that working in Industry has helped me to focus on my studies, as well as providing the chance to experience engineering and manufacturing at first hand.
To avoid missing out, I would recommend that you start looking for placements as early as possible. The Careers Service at Warwick is very helpful and it is worth visiting Careers during your first term to see just what is available. Studying Engineering requires commitment and discipline to keep up with the workload, but the rewards are worth it – I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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An Exchange Year in Austria with Erasmus

Rebecca Wooding, 4th year MEng Mechanical Engineering

I can say without hesitation that the most unforgettable experience I have had whilst studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Warwick has been the integrated Erasmus year I spent in Graz, Austria.

I started learning German in my first year of secondary school, but it wasn’t until my first exchange in year 10 that I began to make real progress in the language. Simultaneously I realised the restrictions of learning a second language in a classroom. Since my A Levels, and during my gap year, I travelled regularly to Germany in a bid to maintain and improve my proficiency in the language and the culture. When I heard that the University of Warwick offered a chance to study internationally as part of the course I decided this was an opportunity I could not miss.

Having travelled to Austria before, I was aware of the Mediterranean summer climate, scrupulous ski resorts and fantastic landscape. However, living in the heart of Graz city centre as a Mechanical Engineering student gave me an entirely new perspective and challenged me daily; from shopping at the local market to working as part of a team in a dynamics laboratory.

When I first moved to Graz attending lectures in a foreign language was daunting, especially in a thick Austrian dialect. Yet, once I became familiar with the basic engineering vocabulary I was able to follow all lectures without having to constantly attack my dictionary. I soon became very used to not only the intense university system, but also the general Austrian lifestyle.

Graz is a perfect city to visit as an Erasmus student. The city’s young vibe is attributed to each of the six universities, most of which offer placements for Erasmus students and regularly hold joint events. This made it very easy to meet people from across the globe, many of which I hope to visit after graduation.

Through undertaking an Erasmus year I have developed not only an advanced level in technical German, but also an ability to work well under pressure, independently and outside of my comfort-zone. These skills, alongside international experience, are ones which are extremely sought after in employment; having something such as an Erasmus year on your CV highlights valuable qualities developed from a unique experience. Yet, it is the personal experiences I have gained alongside great friends,which make taking an Erasmus year so rewarding and unforgettable.

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Postgraduate study at London Business School

Mihir Patel, 3rd year BEng Engineering Business Management

Choosing to study BEng Engineering Business Management at Warwick is probably the best decision I have made so far. The degree catered to my personal requirements by providing the ideal techno-commercial blend of analytical and technical knowledge along with practical real-world business know-how. The course has been structured so perfectly with balanced modules in all 3 years. I got to work in group projects to design an automated home, simulate the aerodynamics of a car, design a concept car and produce a sumo-wrestling robot - and this was only the first year! The professors were fantastic guides in helping to navigate complex concepts by teaching them through structured lectures and lab experiments. They provided us with all the knowledge and guidance to apply the knowledge we learnt in lectures to practical use.

Engineering @ Warwick has also helped develop me throughout my course. Career fairs and personal development talks occur frequently through the year and I got the chance to meet some great people from companies such as Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce. Speaking to them definitely helped me focus myself to pursue my ambitions. In addition to these events, we were regularly teamed up into groups for labs and projects with new students from within the engineering course. This gave me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people and learn from them, as we pooled our individual expertise to successfully accomplish assignments. In all 3 years, I had the freedom to choose certain optional modules which made the degree a better fit for me and my future career. The third year project I undertook was related to a company I plan to work with in the future and enabled me to build knowledge for life after graduation. The modules offered by Warwick Business School featured excellent case studies and the chance to interact with students from other departments interested in the same subjects.

I trust that my fellow Engineering compatriots and I will be lifelong friends as together we have weathered the storms of solving weekly problem sets, calculating our carbon footprints and keeping each other company as we pulled an all-nighter to write up the lab reports (I exaggerate). The class was made up of the most talented, intellectual and humorous group of people I have come across with the collective confidence that says “Trust me, I’m an Engineer”.

I believe that this unique degree, along with the reputation and expertise of Engineering helped me gain an edge over other students in my application for a Master’s in Management at London Business School where I plan to study after graduating later in 2012.

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Richard Coulton,

4th year MEng Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering

Following on from the insight into my first year (see page 12 in the 2012-2013 Engineering Undergraduate Brochure) here I am now in my 4th year at Warwick. Firstly let me start by saying it seems only last year that I was revising for my first exams here but four years on and it’s that time of year again. When people say university provides some of the best opportunities in your life so far they are not wrong. In the past four years I have worked on numerous projects, ranging from reverse engineering an engine to programming industrial robots. My course “Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering” has provided me with a wide range of exposure to new subjects and allowed me to gain a better appreciation of how products are designed around manufacturability as well as functionality. Coursework is a thing that you will come to both love and hate, it always seems to be due the next day but it’s definitely worth not underestimating its value. Come exam time however, it’s a great feeling to know that you have at least got a significant part of the module already completed, relieving the pressure, just that little bit!

In my summer breaks I have predominantly undertaken work experience with a local engineering firm which has not only allowed me to gain key industrial experience for my CV, but also enabled me to see and implement some of the theory we have studied over the course. To anyone considering either taking a gap year or an internship, I would highly recommend it. They offer so much more experience than your course alone can provide and definitely help with both your studies and finances for those expensive nights out!

A question I recall my parents asking me prior to choosing Warwick was ‘what do I plan to do after I graduate?’ which if I’m honest, I will have fobbed them off with some generic answer, but now in my 4th year I’m finding this is now a question on my mind. Luckily the University hosts a number of career events throughout the year, which as well as providing a great opportunity to pick up some free pens and stress balls, also offer great information on employers I’d never heard of before. [Editors note: In November 2011 the ’Options in Engineering’ enabled 20 employers to engage specifically with over 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate Engineering students.]

What I have found from my job applications is employers seem to look for two things; universities with good reputations and lots of examples of things you’ve done. For me Warwick has provided both of these. In industry, at least for Engineering, Warwick is held in a high regard and the group projects undertaken have provided great opportunities for discussion points in interviews.

It would be unrealistic of me to say that job opportunities for graduates aren’t competitive; they certainly are, but at least for me finding the ideal career after graduating from Warwick hasn’t been a struggle. Of the six companies I applied to, I have not been rejected by any of them, including top companies such as Coty Cosmetics (parent company of Rimmel London), JCB and Jaguar-Land Rover offering me salaries up to £30,000. My advice to others would be to apply early, make the most out of your experiences at university and be yourself!


Graduate profiles


Divya1

Divya Surana,

BEng Engineering Business Management 2009

Coming to the University of Warwick has been one of the best decisions of my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed each minute spent here. Not only did I fulfil all my dreams but I achieved a lot more than I could have possibly imagined.

Engineering at Warwick is highly under rated; I was taken aback by how rigorous the course was with the right mix of lab work, theory and sums. I have had some interesting projects like designing an automatic house for the elderly, making a robot car and developing an idea for an attack alarm cum watch! Engineering at Warwick gives you great flexibility to select modules according to your preference.

I chose Engineering and Business Management because it’s an interesting degree and also very sought after by the employers. In my last year I studied Management Accounting, Principles of Finance, Economics for Business and Markets, Marketing and Strategy. The whole financial crisis/recession suddenly became so much more relevant
because all that we learnt could be applied so well.

Warwick places a great emphasis on extra-curricular activities and this is where its students differentiate themselves from others. Amongst other activities I hosted a Bollywood music show on Radio Warwick which was thrilling! In my final year I received the Warwick Advantage Gold Award for my exceptional involvement with the University.

TomMorton

Tom Morton,

BEng Civil Engineering 2010

I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2010 with a 1st Class BEng Honours Degree in Civil Engineering. After graduating I started to ask myself which career path I would like to take. Being an engineer from Warwick I had many options and received a number of offers from different industry sectors.

I was fortunate enough to be offered employment by a company called Armfield, who are the industry leaders in the design of Engineering Teaching Equipment. Armfield supplies equipment, in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and food technology, to universitiesin over 100 countries around the world. The University of Warwick is one of those universities and during my degree I worked with some of the Armfield equipment.

It is very exciting to work for a company who are innovators in their field and Warwick’s well rounded course has given me the best possible tools for the job. With Warwick’s emphasis on general engineering I gained an understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering as well as my more thorough understanding of civil engineering. These skills have proved invaluable whilst working at Armfield, where all disciplines of engineering are covered. The business modules of the course at Warwick have provided me with the knowledge required to have a better understanding of both the industry sector and commercial aspects of the company as a whole.

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Nick Ellison,

MEng Systems Engineering 2009

The main incentive that studying at Warwick held for me,was the ability to continue learning a broad spectrum of subjects for two years before the question of specialising arose. As my strengths have always laid in being able to holistically analyse projects, and view complex scenarios in a top-down approach, it was perhaps natural that I should end up pursuing Systems Engineering when the time came. This gave me the benefit of retaining interdisciplinary knowledge, whilst still providing a sound education in the aspects I found most appealing. Having this structure within the university system has undoubtedly aided my progression outside of academia, and has refined the way I approach any task.

Being able to join the European Student Moon Orbiter team at Warwick, and working in conjunction with the European Space Agency in my final two years is something simply unique to Warwick in the UK. It gave me an unparalleled opportunity to apply my skills to a group endeavour, and also the chance to work with very talented engineers on an international level. Additionally, due to the early introduction of cross-discipline group work, my skill set desirable to industry rose dramatically. This resulted in an internship as a Technology Risk Consultant with Deloitte by the Summer of my second year, and I went on to secure a graduate position, often relating in-situ events from Engineering projects in the interviews.

During my time at Warwick, I spent two very successful years running the Skydiving Club (rated as the Most Improved Club or Society in the UK 2008), and created the university’s largest ever charity event as part of its activities.

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Ben Wood,

MEng Mechanical Engineering 2006

I studied for a MEng in Mechanical Engineering between 2002 and 2006. As part of my degree I took part in the Formula Student group project, which was a fantastic opportunity to work closely with industry and develop my engineering skills. Project work and research were the areas of my degree that I enjoyed the most, so I applied to do an Engineering Doctorate with WMG at Warwick. The EngD requires the research to be industrially relevant which was a challenge, but also meant that I had the option to work outside of academia. The subject of my research was sustainable motorsport, which allowed me to be involved in projects such as Eco One and Worldfirst; green racing cars. The Worldfirst F3 was particularly enjoyable to be involved with, and really captured people’s interest with its carrot fibre steering wheel and chocolate-based biodiesel fuel.

Working on industrially-focussed research brought me into contact with a range of companies and organisations, and I drew on this experience of working with industry when I was looking for jobs after my EngD. I now work at WMG in the SME team working with small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands giving them access to cutting edge academic research to help them develop new products and services to make their businesses more successful.



I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2010 with a 1st Class BEng Honours Degree in Civil Engineering. After graduating I started to ask myself which career path I would like to take. Being an engineer from Warwick I had many options and received a number of offers from different industry sectors.

I was fortunate enough to be offered employment by a company called Armfield, who are the industry leaders in the
design of Engineering Teaching Equipment. Armfield supplies equipment, in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and food technology, to universitiesin over 100 countries around the world. The University of Warwick is one of those universities and during my degree I worked with some of the Armfield equipment.

It is very exciting to work for a company who are innovators in their field and Warwick’s well rounded course has given me the best possible tools for the job. With Warwick’s emphasis on general engineering I gained an understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering as well as my more thorough understanding of civil engineering. These skills have proved invaluable whilst working at Armfield, where all disciplines of engineering are covered. The business modules of the course at Warwick have provided me with the knowledge required to have a better understanding of both the industry sector and commercial aspects of the company as a whole.