My perception of Mechanical Engineering has changed so much from before entering University, and after finishing my final paper of the course. A huge part of my inspiration to study Mechanical Engineering came from my father, who works in the manufacturing industry producing and delivering boiler plants. However, coming to Imperial has opened up my mind to so much more, regardless of it being content within my course, or experiences gained elsewhere.
What did I learn in the course?
Some expectations were aligned with what I thought University life would be like. Lectures are still mostly delivered in lecture theatres, and we definitely have more group work and assignments compared to A-Levels. However, I was definitely shocked by the number of subjects that encompassed Mechanical Engineering. The course covers a broad range of subjects, each entirely different from the other. As a first and second-year Mechanical Engineering student, we had to learn different subjects such as Mechatronics, Thermodynamics, Stress Analysis, etc. I was not used to balancing this many subjects at the same time after only focusing on 4 subjects during my A-Levels. This got me demotivated for a period of time as I initially struggled to catch up with everything. It took a lot of talking to different peers, personal tutors and seniors to learn how to manage my expectations, and learn how to determine the importance of different things. This led to me also learning how to manage my time much better as the years go by, allowing me to achieve a better study/life balance.
There were definitely some subjects that I could not resonate with well, but also others that I excelled in. Imperial has taught me that every experience is a great experience if you put your all to it, and every experience is a building block to help you discover what works best for you! In my third and fourth years of studies, we got to choose different modules and specialise in certain fields. All of these will then be essential and helpful in working on a final year research project that we are passionate about, ensuring we have the relevant technical knowledge to undergo them. Being able to specialize in certain fields was my favourite aspect of this course, after trying out a huge range of mandatory modules. Having a better perception of things, I found myself being much more motivated to work on subjects that I resonate with fully and to sign up for more opportunities to build my passion. Having found my passion in sustainable designing, this encouraged me to sign up for a research project during the summer with the Tribology department in Imperial, researching the compatibility of using different lubricants on polymer/steel contacts. As I moved on to my final year, I decided to work on a lab-based final year project focusing on the manufacturing of bio-based epoxy plates. It felt amazing being able to step into labs again after the pandemic, and to get my hands dirty again!
One of the biggest surprises and appreciation I have for the course is its focus on practical learning. Design and manufacturing is a huge focus through our first three years, leading to a year-long Design, Make and Test Project, where students were divided into different subassemblies of a product and learned how to create their individual designs from scratch. I loved getting my hands dirty in the student workshop, and seeing what we’ve learned in classrooms being applied. I also learned that being an engineer is so much more than being able to come up with elegant designs and smart solutions, and a big part of designing an outstanding product stems from good communication and teamwork. By the end of my third year, seeing our assembly (an Espresso Machine!) come to life in the student workshop, was one of the proudest achievements of my degree.
Alongside everything that was mentioned above, there are so many things that I found myself subconsciously learning throughout my degree. Whether this is presentation skills, time management, or leadership skills, each opportunity that I have chosen to pick up at Imperial has taught me so much, and I am constantly amazed by the talented people that I am surrounded by every day. Imperial and Mechanical Engineering have taught me so much more than just what it takes to be a good Mechanical Engineer, but what it takes to do good to the world and give back to society as well.