Jaime Benthem – Sailing and simulations

Portrait of Jaime Benthem

Name: Jaime Francisco Benthem

Programme/subject area: MSc Advanced Computational Methods for Aeronautics, Flow Management and Fluid-Structure Interaction

Year of study: 2022-2023

 Studying at Imperial 

What made you become interested in Aeronautical Engineering? 

My interest in Aeronautical Engineering is deeply rooted in my family’s passion for science and engineering. Growing up in a family of scientists, I was surrounded by scientific discussions at every turn – even dinner conversations often revolved around topics like water treatment techniques or the latest experiments at CERN. 

My interest in aeronautics has a dual origin. Firstly, my passion for sailing – a sport I’ve dedicated over 12 years to at a competitive level – introduced me to intriguing subjects like Fluid Dynamics and Structures. I found myself spending countless hours sanding the boat to reduce the hull’s roughness and wondering what sail setup would maximise the boat’s aerodynamic performance. 

Secondly, my uncle was a significant influence in my life. He was an exceptional pilot who embarked on daring expeditions which included crossing the African continent in a gyroplane without external support. His adventures and aviation experience triggered my interest in Aeronautics, leading me to enroll in an aeronautics-related degree. 

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

I first laid eyes on the South Kensington Campus over a decade ago during a family trip. The splendid surroundings, featuring renowned museums, created an idyllic atmosphere where anyone would dream to study. I distinctly remember telling my parents at the time that I would study at Imperial College someday.  

However, I was rejected when I applied for an undergraduate degree at Imperial College a couple of years later. Far from disheartening me, this setback served as a catalyst for personal growth and learning.  

Whilst I was completing my BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manchester, I closely followed the world’s leading scientific institutions in my field on social media. As I became interested in modelling and simulation techniques, particularly in Fluid Mechanics, I was fascinated to learn that OpenFOAM was originally developed at Imperial College. I was also captivated by the Department of Aeronautics’ cutting-edge developments in high-fidelity PDE solvers (led by SherwinLabs through the Nektar++ framework). 

Roughly halfway through my final year in Manchester, I realised that my passion lay in specialising in computational methods for engineering applications. Given my prior research and aspirations, I couldn’t envision a more suitable institution than Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics to help me develop in this subject. I applied for a postgraduate degree, and this time, I was fortunate enough to be accepted! 

How have you found your course so far? 

My experience with the course has been both exceptionally challenging and profoundly rewarding. 

Coming from a different academic background, I encountered substantial challenges with some topics which were less covered in my undergraduate degree. Lecturers often assumed a high level of prior knowledge in these subjects which made the revision process more demanding. Additionally, the condensed content and frenetic teaching pace meant that deadlines piled up quickly!  

Despite these challenges, I can unequivocally declare that studying this course has been one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of my life. The course’s flexibility is a remarkable aspect, allowing students to tailor their learning experience to their interests, whether in space, theory, computation, or other areas. Moreover, our small cohort of just over 30 students – coming from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds – fostered an unparalleled sense of diversity and camaraderie.  

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

I ran for the position of Academic Course Representative within my department and was humbled to be elected by my peers. In this role, I helped to organise and launch events, including the Department’s Christmas party, which everyone enjoyed! I also engaged with Department and Union leaders on critical issues, including students access to exam scripts and the Student Union’s 5-year strategy. Serving in this role has been a truly rewarding experience! 

Beyond academics, I pursued my passion for sailing by joining the Imperial Sailing team. Early in the year, I competed in a team racing event, contributing to Imperial College securing the second position out of more than 15 competitors. I also participated in friendly events and had the incredible opportunity to join the Summer Sail Week in Croatia as a skipper, an experience that left an indelible mark. 

By engaging in these diverse activities, I loved meeting many fellow students at Imperial College and forging friendships that I hope will endure a lifetime. I strongly encourage every student to find their own balance between academics and their other passions, which is not only essential for personal fulfilment but also a cornerstone of long-term mental and physical well-being. 

Undergraduate experience 

What do you enjoy about studying in London?  

Studying in London has been an incredible experience. Firstly, London’s cultural richness is unparalleled, with world-class art and history museums that often offer free admission. The V&A Museum, just a stone’s throw away from the Central Library, became my go-to spot for study breaks, providing not only relaxation but also an opportunity to enrich my cultural knowledge. As a history enthusiast, I also purchased the annual membership at the British Museum, offering fantastic value for students and endless fascination in its countless galleries. 

London’s wonderful green spaces have also been a comforting escape from the city’s hectic activity. Kew Gardens, St. James’s Park and Hyde Park have each provided me with invaluable moments of relaxation and tranquility during such an intense year. 

Something that I wish I’d realised sooner is…  

… the paramount importance of attending every lecture from day one.  The course’s intensity is undeniable, with coursework assigned early in the term. Missing even a couple of lectures can quickly lead to a student falling behind. Secondly, attending lectures goes beyond academic necessity as it also facilitates opportunities to connect with fellow students and the lectures, which can otherwise be hard due to the independent nature of the course. 

Another aspect I wish I had discovered earlier is the existence of the Blyth Centre. This remarkable resource offers free art and music lessons and provides music practice rooms that students can book. Given the hard work that all students put in over the academic year, it is so easy to lose contact with their creative side, hence the importance of this centre.  

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

Overcoming challenges at Imperial has been a journey enriched by the support of my friends, invaluable guidance from career services, and the availability of various support schemes. 

As an international student separated from my family by thousands of kilometres, my friends have been my pillars during challenging times. My flatmates (Pablo and Daniel), and my university friends have all contributed to making my time at Imperial less difficult as well as more entertaining and fun.  

For career-related challenges, the Careers Services at Imperial have been an invaluable resource for me. They provided me with expert advice on matters such as interviews, CVs, and other critical aspects of my career development. This guidance has been instrumental in shaping my career portfolio for the years ahead. 

Finally, Imperial College has established support systems for students facing various issues, including for legal, housing, and mental health concerns. While I personally haven’t made use of these services, I’ve witnessed their positive impact on friends and acquaintances, and I strongly encourage anyone facing similar circumstances to reach out to these resources if they are needed. 

Career path and future goals 

What would you like to do after you graduate? 

My ambition is to secure a position within a cutting-edge, high-tech engineering company operating in a sector like the automotive, aerospace, or maritime industries, in a role with a strong focus on innovative and sustainable projects. As someone with a practical and inquisitive nature, I aspire to use the knowledge I’ve gained during my four years of academic training in roles that contribute to positive social and environmental impacts. 

My immediate career plan involves starting in a technical role within such a company. This will grant me the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, gaining valuable insights into industry processes and practices. I would then like to progress into roles involving project management. 

On a personal level, I aspire to find a work environment that values and supports well-being and personal life. Achieving a balance between my professional and personal life is a priority as I move forward in my career. 

How will Imperial College help you achieve your future goals? 

Throughout this academic year, I have realised that the benefits of studying at Imperial College are everlasting and go far beyond the academics. I have highlighted a few below: 

Values: Imperial’s commitment to innovation and sustainability aligns with my career aspirations. These values are not just words on paper but are noticeable at various levels. For instance, this year I attended many events hosted by the college and the department that promoted and showcased innovative and sustainable technologies, helping me identify the areas where I could work in the future. 

Careers Support: Imperial’s comprehensive career support services are invaluable. I can continue to access these services up to 3 years after my graduation, including the appointment systems, workshops, and careers events, which is a testament to the institution’s commitment to supporting graduates beyond their graduation. 

Networking & Employability: One of the most advantageous aspects of my time at Imperial is the network of outstanding peers and professionals I’ve had the privilege to connect with. Friends and former classmates have offered to help me to write reference letters to join their companies and I’ve also received collaboration opportunities in startups and other initiatives. This will undoubtedly prove invaluable as I advance in my career. 


What do you think is the most important quality to succeed?   

In my opinion, resilience is the most important quality to succeed in a professional career and in life in general. The small milestones and accomplishments that I have achieved in my life came after bouncing back from failures in numerous situations.  

What makes for your perfect weekend? 

My perfect weekend unfolds as a well-balanced blend of relaxation, physical activity, and social interaction. 

On Fridays, I occasionally treat myself with nice lunch from a favourite restaurant and on the weekend I enjoy playing sports such as football, tennis, or running, sailing, climbing or mountain climbing. I also enjoy visiting a local pub, having a movie night or going to a cozy gathering at a friend’s house. 

 I use my weekends to seize the opportunity to engage in outdoor sports that are often hard to fit into my busy week. Sailing, climbing, or mountain biking are perfect choices. These activities not only provide a physical challenge but also connect me with nature. I also enjoy exploring cultural activities, whether it’s enjoying a book in the park (weather permitting), visiting a museum, practicing piano, or learning a new skill.   

Finally, one of the afternoons is dedicated to rest and preparation. It’s a time to recharge, plan for the upcoming week, and mentally prepare for the new challenges ahead. 


What sentence of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about studying at imperial? 

Embrace the opportunity and dive into the journey with unwavering determination. While the road may be challenging, the rewards are immeasurable. Whether your passion lies in science, engineering, or any other field, Imperial offers a world-class learning experience that will enable you to reach your full potential. 

International Student Experience

What country are you from? 


Why did you choose to study in the UK? 

Here’s why I chose the UK for my higher education: 

Exploration of Different Cultures: My family’s encouragement to explore other cultures played a significant role in my decision. I saw studying abroad – especially in the UK given its cultural diversity – as a chance to broaden my horizons and experience diverse perspectives. 

Desire for Independence: As I approached my final year in secondary school, I had a strong desire to become more independent. Studying abroad offered an excellent opportunity to challenge myself and discover a new level of self-reliance. 

Language: The opportunity to improve my English language skills to a native level was a compelling factor. English proficiency is so valuable in today’s globalised world. 

Career Opportunities: The UK stood out for its numerous career opportunities for graduates. The prospect of launching my career in a country known for its vibrant job market was irresistible. 

Teaching Style: British universities are renowned for their teaching style which emphasises practical learning through hands-on experience.  

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

I would strongly recommend Imperial College to young students from around the world, and particularly to those from my home country. While the tuition fees for European students have increased after Brexit, I firmly believe that Imperial College offers a unique educational experience that is worth the investment for Spanish students because of the: 

Thriving Spanish Community: Imperial College and London are home to a massive Spanish community. With numerous Spanish food restaurants, bars and Latin music nightclubs across the city, Spain feels a bit closer in London.  As a Real Madrid fan, I was excited to discover that there are many fan clubs across London where I could go to watch games with my friends. 

Accessibility: London is exceptionally well-connected to major Spanish cities through its airports. Flights are often affordable and readily available which is convenient for students who want to visit their home country.  

Quality of Education: Imperial College is renowned for its practical and hands-on approach to education, which sets it apart from many Spanish universities. The knowledge and skills acquired at Imperial are highly regarded and make graduates competitive both in the international and the national job markets. 

Cultural Diversity: Studying at Imperial exposes students to rich and diverse cultures and backgrounds. The diverse student body and multicultural environment provide an invaluable opportunity to broaden one’s horizons, gain a global perspective, and understand the world in a larger context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *