I always enjoyed Maths and Physics but wanted to put these skills to practical use. I chose Bath because of its excellent placement opportunities, and because Bath's teaching explains why we do things, not just how.
Understanding what it's like to be an engineer on placement
After studying Mechanical Engineering for the first two years, I spent my placement year working as a Project Engineer at apetito, who make frozen meals for Wiltshire Farm Foods, hospitals and care homes. During my placement, I was given real responsibilities and led a range of projects improving efficiency, sustainability and safety across the factory. A year in the workplace really helped me see what the life of an engineer looks like.
Upon my return to Bath for my final two years, I chose to specialise in manufacturing and management. I enjoy manufacturing because it is fascinating to learn how the things we use every day are made. While F1 cars and jet planes are amazing machines, they are only used a handful of times a year by a small group of people. In comparison, food and other everyday items have to be manufactured efficiently and sustainably. I also chose this specialisation because it is crucial for engineers to understand the businesses within which we operate. Successful engineers must have a range of practical, technical, social, and corporate skills to make the biggest impact.
My favourite engineering projects
My favourite project so far at university is programming and running a CNC machine. These are moving, rotating cutting heads that can be programmed to cut a piece of material into intricate shapes. To begin with, we were taught the programming language G-Code. Then we were tasked to write and run our own code to machine a part with multiple different features. In contrast, we then used state-of-the-art CAD/CAM software to automatically generate code for the same part. Comparing the handwritten versus the software-generated code was interesting and brought many questions about the role of humans in automated manufacturing. Also, learning first how to handwrite the code meant I understood the workings behind the computer-generated code, not just how to generate it.
Another project that I enjoyed was the Group Business Design Project students work on in their third year of study. My group was partnered with ARC Manufacturing Solutions and was tasked to create a set of machines for long-range target shooting, which involves shooting rifles at targets up to two miles away. When the bullet is fired, the spent metal casing is ejected. Our machines allowed users to reform the casing, which was then refilled and fired again. It was interesting to work with an industry partner and to visit their premises. Knowing where our project fit within a real industry gave us motivation and inspiration. My part of the project was to design and programme the electronic components of the machines. This was a steep learning curve as I had no previous electronic experience, but prototyping (lots of prototyping!) and testing really helped me improve.