Student profile
Benjamin Karkera

Ben Karkera

"The highlight for me was the pride in being given responsibility, and being able to complete work to a high standard. By the end of my placement I really felt a part of the team, and as though I was contributing in a meaningful way."

Placement company
BAE Systems - Submarines, Cumbria

"My Professional Training placement was at BAE Systems – Submarines, in Barrow, Cumbria. The site is where the UK’s nuclear submarines are designed and built. I spent my time in three engineering departments within different areas of the business, gaining experience in a range of engineering roles and teams.

The work involved resolving issues discovered during build, developing new technologies - through 3D printing and programming, carrying out scientific investigations, and coming up with new solutions and design improvements to make things safer, quicker and better.

The highlight for me was the pride in being given responsibility, and being able to complete work to a high standard. By the end of my placement I really felt a part of the team, and as though I was contributing in a meaningful way.

As my first experience in an engineering job, I have learnt a huge amount about working in industry. By working in a professional environment (and making plenty of mistakes), I gained confidence in tackling problems, adapting to new situations and decision-making. I discovered how vital communication was to engineering, and developed professional, and personal, relationships with a wide range of people from different teams and functions. I was also able to pass on some skills back to colleagues in the business from things I had learnt at university, such as design for 3D printing.

Every team I worked in was supportive, and there was always someone to ask for help, or to pester for work. I never felt pushed to the side or an inconvenience, and was included in meeting and visits to see as much as I could. I found that if I worked hard, then people would always be there to help me. The patience and support that people gave me during my placement was really what made it such a great experience for me.

"I would recommend a Professional Training placement to anyone, regardless of what they are studying."

It is an opportunity to gain experience and skills that aren’t taught as part of the course, and it’s invaluable for getting a head-start when employers are often reluctant to take on graduates with little real world work experience. Also, it provides a real indication of whether a particular job, role or career is right for you, with no commitment to staying on if you don’t like it.

It was a great privilege to have been awarded Student of the Year 2017 at the Professional Training Student of the Year awards (and quite a surprise!) to win the award. I don’t often put myself forward for these type of things, but it has been a great experience and nice to feel that my work, and the work of everyone who helped me, has been recognised.

The evening was really enjoyable, and both the students and staff seemed to enjoy chatting and finding out about everyone’s experiences. It was great to speak to people from a variety of backgrounds and doing widely different subjects and placements, as well as the members of staff in a more personal way.

My placement has also led to a collaborative research project between the University and BAE systems. I established links between the two by enquiring within the business, and asked through my personal tutor about a potential project. Both organisations were keen to be involved, as well as to look into a potential partnership, involving research, sharing of expertise and student development opportunities."

Discover more about our mechanical engineering courses, including our BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering.

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