Debdut Sengupta – Skyward dreams

Portrait of Debdut in front of awards board

Name: Debdut Sengupta

Programme/subject area: MEng Aeronautics with Spacecraft Engineering

Year of study: 3

Favourite place: Shaheed Dweep

Studying at Imperial 

What made you become interested in Aeronautical Engineering?

As a child, I always enjoyed trying to understand how the world functioned and I loved learning about Maths and Physics. I then grew up wanting to use these skills to help the advancement of humanity.

My focus on aeronautics and astronautics developed from my father’s love for aircrafts. Choosing to study Aeronautical Engineering allowed me to combine my theoretical interests with my love for flying objects.

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

Whilst I looked at different aerospace departments around the world, the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College stood out to me in three important ways:

  • Imperial College has world-class facilities. These range from supersonic wind tunnels to vacuum chambers (and I have had the opportunity to perform experiments in both of them!).
  • It has an international reputation among graduate employers. Alumni from my course have gone on to work at companies including Airbus and Rolls Royce.
  • Students are able to specialise in Aeronautics modules, such as Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics, right from the first day.

How have you found your course so far?

My course has been thoroughly enjoyable! It has taught me so much, from learning how to optimise Hall thrusters to designing a full business jet from scratch. Whilst it has been challenging, overcoming hurdles has contributed to my development as an Aeronautical Engineer, improving my time management and problem-solving skills.

Tell us about how your experience becoming selected for the ‘Nova 111 Student List’

Every year, the organisation Nova selects 111 students with high potential from Sweden, Spain and Italy. They use a selection process – involving online tests, interviews, and references – to invite these students from over 1500 nominations from each country.

I was nominated in the Swedish list, where I was selected as the Jury’s choice and winner in my category ‘Other Engineering and Technology’. This was partially based on my admission to Imperial College, as well as my projects and achievements made during my studies.

 The Nova event was great as I got to engage with the Nova Global Talent Network, meeting the other winners and the jury. It was very inspiring to meet people from all over Sweden who were at the forefront of their fields. I also made some important connections for my career.

How else are you involved with university life?

I am thoroughly engaged with the Imperial College Space Society (ICSS). I am the Orbital Mechanics team lead for Project Svarog which is aiming to launch the world’s first civilian interstellar object: a solar-sailing CubeSat. A ‘CubeSat’ is a cubic satellite – roughly the size of a toaster – which is often used as a cost-effective solution to create in-space research.

This opportunity has led to a lot of cool things: from performing vacuum chamber tests on the solar sail to attending conferences with industry professionals from NASA and JAXA to establish further collaborations. We also successfully published a paper last year in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

ICSS has also helped me develop my personal skills. Last year, I held a committee role as the Industrial Liaison Officer at ICSS. This role developed my networking skills and improved my confidence at introducing myself to industrial partners.

Study Experience 

What is your favourite thing about studying at imperial?

A key highlight studying at Imperial College has been discussing ideas and engaging with a vibrant, diverse and motivated student body. I have met students who have won large competitions, performed internships at the European Space Agency and started their own aeronautics projects.  This taught me about what is possible to achieve and pushed me towards reaching my own professional goals.

Have you discovered any hidden campus gems while at Imperial?

There are some great in-built desks on floor 3 of CAGB with good connectivity to the CAGB lecture halls. It’s a great place to get some work done while being in the middle of the college buzz!

My favourite place for lunch is The Loud Bird, where the chicken meal deal is cheap and tastes great!

Career Path and Future Goals

What would you like to do after you graduate?

My goal is to work in the aerospace industry, specifically in the space sector. I would love to work with projects, like missions to Mars and asteroid redirect missions, which will contribute to rapid technological advancement and help safeguard life on Earth. I am aiming to develop my experience with the help of internships and graduate schemes over the coming years.

My course has helped me sharpen my theoretical knowledge, build my practical experience and develop the teamworking skills I would need to succeed in such projects. Whilst working in a large-scale project will need hard work and tonnes of experience in the sector, it would be very exciting and fulfilling to achieve.

How will Imperial College help you achieve your future goals?

Last summer, I was part of a team of six that designed, built and tested a drone and its controller. Acting as a structural engineer, I learnt how to apply theoretical concepts and computational tools to design the drone arm with minimum weight while ensuring no structural failure.

Because of this project, I learnt that the practical constraints – such as the actual setup of the additive manufacturing process – were as important to consider as the theoretical results. For instance, we were not able to print thin-walled sections since the central holes would need to be filled with supports, unnecessarily increasing the total weight.

I also learned the importance of effective communication and regular design reviews to ensure system-level agreement. These are all skills that will boost my performance in a competitive industry and make me stand out as a candidate in the future.

Outside of this, events arranged by the Department and the Imperial College Careers Service have also helped increase my career prospects. This has ranged from CV and cover letter guidance to making connections with industry experts. I have also received a lot of guidance and help from alumni regarding specific companies of interest and how to tailor applications towards them.


An engineering fact that I’m obsessed with is…

That aircrafts wouldn’t be able to fly if it wasn’t for a 25mm thick region of air around the wing (the boundary layer).

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

  • Take the iconic walk from Victoria station to Westminster station along the Thames. You will pass the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, Tate Britain and get amazing views of the London Eye and the City of London.
  • See the Winter Lights in Canary Wharf in January.
  • Visit the Battersea Power Station to see the unification of current industrialisation architecture with that of the 20th century.

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

 Be curious about subjects that you enjoy. Digging deeper to learn more about them led you to specific areas that interest. This will give you a better understanding of the subject.

When applying for a course, it can be difficult to portray your interests in a subject area in 4000 characters – focus on researching into the subject.

Whilst gathering information, ask yourself questions about what you are reading. Think about whether what you’ve been learning clashes with what you thought you knew. If so, why? This will make explaining your passion for the subject easier and make you a better critical thinker.

International Student Experience

What country are you from?

I am from Sweden.

What do you enjoy most about living in London?

 I really enjoy the feeling of diversity and inclusivity from living in London. People here are very open to different cultures and I felt very included in any activities that I took part in.

 Festivals from across the world are celebrated here and almost every background is represented by a student club. For instance, the Nordic society is where Nordic-themed events are regularly arranged. I could take part in traditions from my cultures and also explore and learn about other cultures as well.

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

 I would suggest talking with someone from your background who has applied to the country you are considering. There are usually loads of steps in the application process and a previous applicant will be able to give you advice on how to shape your application. It can be easy to forget something small, like an English test (IELTS/TOEFL), which you can prepare for by talking to a previous applicant.