Student profile

Billy Cavanagh

"After visiting Surrey and Surrey Sports Park, I knew it would be a place I would love to study and compete in sport."


Mechanical Engineering

Placement company

AVL High Precision Manufacturing, Germany and AVL Racing, Austria

"I came to Surrey as the course was very attractive especially because of the opportunity to take part in a professional training year. 

League table position wasn't really a concern, but after visiting I could see that it was a growing university, aiming to be the very best.

The Open Day was really helpful to me in explaining the course options and getting a feel for the campus. After visiting Surrey and Surrey Sports Park, I knew it would be a place I would love to study and compete in sport.

One of the main highlights of course so far, has been the option to undertake a professional placement. By doing this I was able to undertake a placement abroad at an industry leading company, AVL, spending half my placement in Germany and half in Austria. Another highlight is the option to partake in Formula Student as part of my studies. Having previously only done some work as a society member, being part of the team as a year 3 student has given me the opportunity to design parts of the aerodynamic package which will be built for the 2019 competition.

All the academic staff have been high quality in terms of their lecturing and their approachability when helping students one to one in their spare time if they need it.

"My first impression of Surrey was that it is a very multicultural, dynamic university with a very clean modern look."


The facilities are also very good, in providing students with top of the line computers and great places to work, such as the new Innovation for Health building.

I lived in Cathedral Court during my first year. Halls was great during first year for making friends and by being on campus, close to everything, made settling in so much easier.

I played squash and football for Surrey during my first year and have continued to play squash for the 3rd and 2nd team up until now at University. This was incredibly beneficial to my university experience, as I've made lots of new friends through the club and is a great way of socialising, especially on Wednesday nights in Rubix. I was also part of the committee for both squash and gliding during my second year. This was very useful for helping to improve my leadership and interpersonal skills.

Social life for me revolves around my sport. Surrey Sports Park has great facilities to play sport at the highest of levels. As well as this, because of clubs like squash, having a good social atmosphere around them, there is always social nights out on Wednesdays.

I went abroad to do my placement to work with AVL High Precision Manufacturing, in Germany for seven months. I then moved to work with AVL Racing in Graz, Austria for five months. In Germany I worked in the project management and sales team helping to improve part quality and production for limited series/racing components. In Austria I worked with a masters student to help develop a now patented motorcycle testbed dyno for AVL racing.

"Doing a placement in a motorsport sector definitely improved my understanding and appreciation for the industry."


The University supported me in terms of having a placement tutor coming to visit and to check that I was still on track with work and learning new skills. Both my managers pushed me to becoming better in the work place and gave me demanding work that helped me develop. It helped improve my professional communication skills, leadership skills and my industry connections.

Having done my placement abroad in two different countries gave me a broad range of cultural understanding, whilst helping me learn German.

I think a professional placement is really important in terms of getting industry understanding and making industry links. For me this is one of the main reasons for picking the engineering course at Surrey."


Discover our mechanical engineering courses, including our BEng and MEng Mechanical Engineering courses.