"My course helped me to choose what kind of sector I wanted to start a career in and it gave me the skills to be a strong candidate for those jobs."
Why did you come to Surrey?
I came to Surrey to study mechanical engineering. This was a perfect combination of my A-level subjects and I felt it would teach me how to apply these skills to solve real-world problems.
The flexible nature of the course allowed me to choose between a bachelors or integrated masters, and it gave me the option to incorporate a Professional Training Year. Having this flexibility in my degree was important. I was able to keep my options open and mould my course in line with my interests and goals.
Surrey also has a wide range of industry connections, which helped me to find a great placement for my year in industry. This definitely made me more employable and it gave me confidence to apply the skills I learnt in lectures.
Did anything specifically bring you to Surrey?
I visited a lot of different universities on their open days, but Surrey stood out to me. It had a nice campus, amazing facilities at Surrey Sports Park and an impressive engineering department. It also helped that it wasn’t too far from home in Reading!
Did you attend an open day?
I attended an open day and an applicant day at Surrey. The open day was led by student ambassadors, who were all helpful and enthusiastic about the University. They gave me a great insight as to what life would be like at Surrey.
The applicant day focused more on my course and department and gave me a chance to meet current students, my future course mates and engineering lecturers.
Why did you choose to study in this area?
When I was little, I always told people I wanted to be an inventor. I loved making things, trying to figure out how they worked by taking them apart – and putting them back together again if I could!
During sixth form, I chose to study mathematics, physics, and design and technology. I thought this would be a good balance of theoretical and practical subjects. Studying engineering took this one step further and taught me how to apply my skills within the engineering industry.
How did you find it?
It was challenging, but I enjoyed it. The course was demanding and required good time management to fit in all of the assignments, projects and exams. It took time to adjust to how university differed from sixth form. But once you got used to working independently, you had the freedom to work to your own schedule.
I liked the broad range of subjects we learnt, too, which gave us a good flavour of the different kinds of roles we could work in once graduating.
What was your favourite part of your course?
I enjoyed the practical elements of my course, which came with the group projects. We got to do a group project each year, which tested our skills and allowed us to apply what we'd learnt in lectures to solve real-world issues.
Working with other engineering students to come up with a design solution mimicked working in the engineering industry. It also gave me skills in teamwork and leadership that I was able to take forward into other aspects of my life.
You were quite successful during your studies, weren’t you?
During my third year, I was selected as one of the Top 10 UK Undergraduates of the Year in Construction and Engineering. The awards were run by TargetJobs and the engineering category was sponsored by Liang O’Rourke, a leading construction company. There were various stages for the award, each one required you to prove your skills and show how you go above and beyond. My work as a STEM Ambassador helped set me apart from the other candidates.
I was also presented was a Highly Commended accolade when I entered the Global Undergraduate Awards. These recognise top undergraduate work from universities around the world and the best 10% of work is shortlisted as Highly Commended. There were more than 4,000 submissions from students from 380 universities around the world, so the competition was tough! I was thrilled that my project, Investigation of the Capabilities of Elastography, was Highly Commended. This means it emerged as among the top 10% of entries submitted into the Engineering category across the world. I was one of only four students in Europe to achieve this.
Life at Surrey
Did you enjoy your time as a student?
Yes. I met so many different people from all walks of life, I tried new sports and societies, and I grew and became more independent. Surrey taught me more than just lessons in a classroom. I learnt life skills and how to be successful in the world of work.
Did you take part in any clubs or societies?
I was a part of a few different societies and I joined some committees, too: I was the Media Manager of Photosoc, Events Manager of Mechsoc and a founding member of Surrey Consulting Society.
One of my highlights at Surrey was the Karate Club. My passion outside of engineering has always been karate. I’ve been practicing it since I was six and I’ve had the opportunity to teach, coach and run my own classes. While at Surrey, I was a keen member of the University Karate Club and I was elected as President and Men’s Team Captain.
Did you live in student accommodation?
During my first year, I lived on campus in Twyford court. I was lucky this was so close to where most of my lectures took place. I could have a lie-in every morning, leave five minutes before my lectures started and still be on time! Living in student accommodation was a great way to meet new people and make friends.
What’s your abiding memory of your time at Surrey?
One of my best memories was from the 2019 BUCS Nationals. I was president of the Karate Club and we finished fourth, which was our highest ranking! Taking the club from a few people to more than 40 members was a great achievement, and ranking fourth in the UK was the cherry on top. I’m glad I was part of the committee that took the club to such a high level.
Alongside my career, I’m still training and teaching classes. I hope to open my own karate dojo one day.
Life after Surrey
What do you do now?
I work in research and development as a Development Engineer for Crown Holdings, a leading engineering company that specialises in the design, innovation and manufacture of packaging solutions.
We work with some of the biggest companies and brands in the world, including Coca-Cola, Fanta and Nestlé. One out of every five beverage cans used in the world is manufactured by Crown! I enjoy having a job that is practical and allows me to design and innovate.
How did your time at Surrey influence your career?
I developed an interest in design and manufacturing. My course helped me to choose what kind of sector I wanted to start a career in and it gave me the skills to be a strong candidate for those jobs. It’s also important to learn what you don’t like, so having such a broad course allowed me to discover what my passions were and weren't.
How well did your course prepare you for your career?
It taught me a very broad range of skills. This gave me the foundations I needed to be able to apply for a range of different jobs within the engineering industry.
Once employed, I was able to develop the skills I learnt further and tailor them specifically for my role at the company. The range of skills I learnt gave me the freedom to be able to be suitable for a great range of engineering roles, which gave me flexibility in my career.
How can students make the most of their time at Surrey?
The advice I’d give is to get involved in as many things as you can, whether that be course-related or otherwise. As well as having a degree, you need to differentiate yourself from other people, so having other activities on your CV will always be a good thing. Employers look for a well-rounded person as well as a good degree grade, so pursue what interests you, whether that’s football, climbing, building electronics or music. Your hobbies and activities will make you more employable.
Are you part of the alumni network?
I’m part of the alumni network on SurreyConnects. It’s a great way to keep in touch and find out how other people are getting on in the world of work. I’m happy to help anyone who’d like guidance or advice or has any concerns. Feel free to get in touch!
Finally, if you could time travel, what piece of advice would you give to the prospective undergraduate version of yourself?
Make the most of every opportunity and get involved in as much as you possibly can. I’d also say to definitely enjoy it and make the most of it because time does fly by. It really does go by in a flash, so make sure you can look back at your university days fondly with happy memories.