"My placement experience was great overall: it taught me plenty and helped me make some really good professional connections. I was given a lot more responsibility than I expected as a placement student."
What was your placement role?
I was a Design and Analysis Undergraduate Engineer at Frewer and Co Engineers Ltd in Dorking (Surrey) and I worked primarily in thermos-fluid modelling using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics).
Describe a typical day…
It would start with team meetings for different projects, either to track progress or set goals. Most of the day would then be technical work where I’d use advanced engineering software to contribute in the design of systems. I often developed code tools to tackle different problems.
When time allowed I trained on different types of engineering software to try and expand the team’s capabilities, and also generated marketing material like CFD imagery, YouTube videos and writing for the website or newsletter.
What were some of the highlights of your time there?
Some of the highlights were trips out. I attended the Advanced Engineering Convention in Birmingham where I got the chance to talk to professionals in many engineering industries. I also got the chance to visit the QinetiQ wind tunnel in Farnborough and delivered a water rocket workshop at a local school in Dorking.
My placement experience was great overall: it taught me plenty and helped me make some really good professional connections. I was given a lot more responsibility than I expected as a placement student.
What was the most important thing you learned on placement?
How to work as a professional – talking to clients and colleagues, delivering high quality work on time, presenting confidently, managing different levels of responsibility, and abiding by the processes and protocols set by the company.
Was it hard to do a 9-5 job after being a student?
It wasn’t too hard to get used to as it came with many benefits. For example every day from 5pm and at weekends I was free of responsibility and could do as I pleased, whereas being a student often involves late night study sessions and a constant pressure with assignments and upcoming exams.
Was it hard to settle back into life as a student after your placement?
No, in fact it has made me enjoy my final year more since it really highlights the opportunities you have as a student so I’ve been keen to join societies and take part in as many events as possible. It’s also motivated me to find a part time job since I’ve become accustomed to having a regular salary.
Have your placement benefited your studies?
Definitely. Throughout my industrial experience I got to see first hand how the concepts and knowledge I was being taught in class were actually used in real life engineering projects. I also got an insight into fields of engineering I wasn’t initially as interested in which has then influenced my module choices in my final year.
"I find it easier to organise my time now and it has also made me feel more capable in group activities because I’ve experienced dealing with engineering teams and supervisors. The biggest difference has probably been my confidence in presenting."
What advice would you give someone considering doing a placement?
Start early. Create your CV and cover letters as soon as possible and get them checked by your tutors: many companies end their placement recruitment as early as October or November so starting early is key. Surrey has plenty of resources to help with interviews, tests and assessment centres so make use of those.
Describe your placement in three words.
Developing. Learning. Contributing.