"University is great for gaining a whole range of knowledge you need, but a placement year gives you the chance to develop on a personal level and use that knowledge to create real world impact. At its core, engineering is about solving problems, and a placement year gives you the perfect opportunity to do that."
Where was your placement?
I spent my Professional Training placement year in Ricardo’s Vehicle Emissions Research Centre where vehicles are certified, serviced and tested using emission measurement equipment on a 4WD dynamometer.
What kind of projects did you work on?
I worked on a direct development project for a commercial vehicle Original Equipment Manufacturer, and an On-Board Diagnostic In-House Demo project. On these projects I was responsible for tasks like communicating with the client to confirm requirements, managing testing logistics by flashing calibrations, and handling data after tests.
I also spent time on three luxury vehicle OEM projects, and got used to being around expensive luxury vehicles every day – which was exciting at first but soon became the norm!
While on placement I also ran STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) outreach activities at local schools and community groups such as an Aero Design Race with GCSE students and a Buoyancy Event with junior school pupils.
Did you find it hard to adjust to life on placement?
I found that maintaining boundaries between your personal and work life is much easier on placement than when you’re studying. As a student I work most weekends and some days in the holidays, so having some proper time off during my placement year was quite nice!
And has it been hard to settle back into life as a student?
Now I’m back at Surrey in my third year I feel more confident, particularly with things like asking questions in tutorials and group project meetings. I feel I can coordinate my work and time better now. I can organise tasks more effectively and manage multiple things at once, which was essential during my placement. Doing my final Professional Training year report – which was quite long – helped me when I had to write reports for my group project and my dissertation.
After I graduate I’m due to start an MSc in Space Engineering at Surrey: doing a placement gave me the chance to take a breath and reflect on where I am and how I want to continue.
What were the main things you learned on placement?
Doing a placement totally changed my outlook for the rest of my university degree. I had a difficult second year beforehand and I definitely wouldn’t be thriving the way I am now without a placement. I needed to be in an environment that allowed me to interact with a wide variety of experienced engineers in industry, and find out what makes them successful and how to develop the skills they have.
University is great for gaining a whole range of knowledge you need, but a placement year gives you the chance to develop on a personal level and use that knowledge to create real world impact. At its core, engineering is about solving problems, and a placement year gives you the perfect opportunity to do that.
Describe your placement in three words.
Controlled chaos! Rewarding.