Sita Nair – Supporting female Aeronautics students

Programme/subject area: UG/ MEng Aeronautical Engineering

Year of study: 3rd year

Studying at Imperial

What made you become interested in Aeronautical Engineering?

It was my childhood dream to work at NASA and my desire to contribute to the developing fields in Aeronautics (specifically towards Green Aviation and related initiatives), solidified my decision to study Aeronautical Engineering. Additionally, my parents working in similar fields further accentuated my enthusiasm for engineering and tackling real-world problems.

Why did you decide to study at the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial?

I was ambitious to study at one of the top institutions in the world and the Aeronautical Engineering course offered by Imperial College is ranked number 1 in the UK. This made me develop a special interest in Imperial College due to its impeccable reputation across engineering fields.

Imperial College also has multiple state-of-the-art facilities and world-class academics, combined with its valuable tie-ups with other reputable universities and industries.

How have you found your course so far?

I have found the course challenging, yet enjoyable. At the start, the main difficulty was adjusting to the new environment – being a complete novice to university life – but things started getting better over a few months as I got the hang of it.

What has been your favourite module/area of study so far and why?

My favourite fields of study so far have been Aerodynamics, Thermodynamics and Propulsion, specifically high-speed flows and shock waves. I find it very intriguing and their various applications in different fields has always awed me. My work experiences (primarily the summer of 2022 spent in Supersonic Tunnel at the Indian Institute of Science and my current Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project here at Imperial), in these areas helped to highlight these as my research areas of interest.

How else are you involved with university life outside of your course?

I am a Co-President of a committee forming a new society to support female students studying Aeronautics at Imperial. Our initiative aims to create an open space where women can feel comfortable sharing their experiences in a male dominated environment, provide gender sensitive networking opportunities that are tailored to female specific perspectives and foster inclusivity in academic and social settings.

In addition to this, I am looking forward to taking up the role of Training Manager of the Imperial College Robotics Academy and continuing my role as the Hackathon Officer of the Imperial College Space Society. I’m also a member of the Airframes sub team in the Karman Space Programme (a student led team from Imperial College working on developing a reusable liquid bi-propellent space rocket!) and served as the Academic Rep for my cohort during 1st and 2nd Years.

Undergraduate experience

What do you enjoy about studying in London?

London is a big city with an epic diversity in culture. I got a chance to interact with friendly people from different parts of the world irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds. The city is very engaging and lively, with loads of open space and parks (they’ve always been my favourite!).

London also features world famous historical sights and a wide variety of social activities. There are also several museums steeped in history offering free admission. This city certainly has something for everyone!

What has helped you to overcome difficulties and challenges whilst at Imperial?

My journey here felt intimidating at the start but I always expected to have an amazing time. Support from my friends and family, alongside advice given by senior, have helped me to become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses and shift my points of focus.

Getting used to the academic system was very arduous for me. Personally, determination and perseverance, combined with hard work and passion, have been the key factors in overcoming these challenges.

Several academic staffs have also positively impacted me. Their dedication, combined with their inspirational nature, has served as motivation at various stages of my study.

Career path and future goals

What would you like to do after you graduate?

It has been my long-standing dream to undertake a Ph.D. and contribute to the ever-growing era of development in the field of Aerodynamics. My eagerness to learn about new topics and apply them to solve unfamiliar tasks has been one of my main motivations to then pursue a career in R&D.

How will Imperial College help you achieve your future goals?

Imperial has connections with other top universities and industries which can give valuable exposure to aid me fulfil my dreams. Working with professionals and students with similar interests will help me to achieve my future goals.

Imperial offers plenty of UG research opportunities for students, one of them being Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) which allows students to work on a research topic over the summer weeks guided by a supervisor. My present UROP project experience is the best involvement I have had at Imperial so far.


Who inspires you?

My family are my main source of inspiration. Seeing how far they have come, despite facing challenges and not having similar opportunities to me, made me understand that your circumstances shouldn’t hinder you from striving towards achieving your dreams.

My other motivational figures are CV Raman and Dr APJ Adbul Kalam who are notable Indian scientists. They dedicated their entire lives to the development of the nation whilst leading extremely generous and down-to-earth lifestyles. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam quoted that:

F.A.I.L stands for “First attempt in learning,”

E.N.D stands for “Effort Never Dies,”

N.O stands for “Next opportunity.”

These are some of the best acronyms I have ever come across!

Give us three wonderful things to see or do in London.

I would recommend taking a stroll around the most serene and lush parks in London (Hyde Park is my personal favourite) or along the Thames around sunset hours. The Uber Boat service along the Thames is also worth trying. I once went from Canary Wharf to Imperial Wharf – it was very scenic.

I would also suggest touring around famous sights in Central London (such as Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the London Eye and the Sky Gardens), visiting Harrods (for window shopping of course!), visiting Soho, China Town and Covent Garden.


What advice would you give to a new student at imperial?

The best is yet to come, so never give up!

Try to learn from your mistakes, be patient and understand yourself and your interests. It has never been easy for anyone here, so you are not alone!

Focus on growing and improving yourself slowly. Perseverance, determination and hard work have all been equally important throughout my journey here at Imperial.

International Student Experience

What country are you from?

I am a Canadian Citizen by birth, but I completed most of my pre-university studies in India.

What were your first impressions of Imperial?

As a newbie, I felt very warmly welcomed by the Imperial community. Meeting lots of new people from various places in the first few weeks was amazing. It made me realise that I would be in a very diverse environment for the following four years (of course, remembering everyone’s name was very challenging at first!). From my experience, everyone at Imperial is very friendly and approachable which made this my second home in no time!

Academically, it was quite demanding for me. However, it started getting better once I figured out how to prioritise and manage my time effectively so there is nothing to worry about (I can assure you of that!).

Would you recommend Imperial to those from your home country and why?

Definitely! If they have the chance, they should give it a go. Imperial has given me several unique yet valuable experiences. I have been taught by academics who are at the top of their respective fields and there are multiple opportunities for those who are looking to pursue a career either in industry or in academia.

Also, interacting with my course mates who share the same interests, despite being from very different backgrounds, is what makes the international university experience even more unique.

What would be your top tip(s) for prospective students looking to study abroad?

Firstly, find out what you’re truly passionate about (though these can change with time and exposure). Then, when you are at school, focus on doing your very best to meet the entry requirements. Start preparing for the application process quite early to get yourself familiar with all the steps and what to expect in the months to come.

To satisfy the English language requirements, it is advisable to take the exam (IELTS/ TOEFL etc.) well in advance before your school schedule gets hectic. Work on building a good Personal Statement as it is your first and only chance to describe your true interests.

Good luck to everyone who wants to join Imperial!

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