Tag Archives: mechanical engineering

Engineering: Graduate Prospects

Third year Mechanical Engineering student Jenny Olsen talks us through the many options that are available to engineering students once you graduate.

So you’re thinking of choosing an engineering degree to study at Newcastle University – great! You’ll learn lots of practical skills and engineering theory that will make you both knowledgeable and employable.

First of all – there are lots of different types of engineering; Mechanical, Civil, Bio-medical, Electrical and Chemical (to name just a few!). That means lots of different career routes, but despite there being lots of different streams of engineering we all study quite similar topics (at least for the first few years of your degree). Often, companies hire engineering graduates from more than one discipline, so try to study what you think you’ll enjoy the most! If you have a set career in mind, look at what types of engineers they tend to advertise vacancies for and consider tailoring your degree towards that.

So what happens after you graduate? You’ve passed all your exams, you’ve been at University for 3-4 years, maybe taken a placement year or Summer internship – what now?

As an engineering graduate, there are lots of options open to you – if you’ve graduated with a BEng and want to become chartered, the next step is probably taking an accredited Masters degree. Alternatively, some graduate schemes are tailored to take BEng graduates straight to being a chartered engineer, however these are harder to find and require a longer training period.

If you’ve taken an MEng and want to be chartered: straight into a graduate scheme or professional job role and you’re on your way to chartership!

There are plenty of places to search for graduate roles or engineering vacancies – using sites like Gradcracker is a good place to start however they generally only list big companies which makes the roles extremely competitive. The University Career’s Service also lists vacancies in the UK and abroad from companies who are actively seeking to recruit Newcastle graduates which is a brilliant resource. Alternatively, asking your lecturers if they know any companies that are hiring is a great way to find out about smaller companies that won’t be listed on the other sites!

But what if you’re not ready to give up Uni life just yet? If you’re one of the many students (like myself) who aren’t quite ready to leave behind the lecture hall, maybe further study is for you? There are plenty of research degrees or Doctorate schemes available, and this is a great time to specialise as you’ll already have had 3 or 4 years to discover what you really enjoy learning about.

Whatever you choose to do after your engineering degree, you’ll be well prepared to fit into a workplace, communicate with your colleagues and tackle the problems of our generation!

Jenny

Work/Life Balance as a Mechanical Engineering Student

Ever wondered how to balanced a degree like Mechanical Engineering with social activities, relaxation and part-time work? It can seem tricky, but second year student, Will O’Donnell, has got it covered. In today’s blog post he explains how he manages his time. 

Life at Newcastle
I’m currently studying for a BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering, and as a Stage 2 student I remember what was important to me when choosing a university to study at. Something that mattered a lot was the work/life balance wherever I decided to go, which, thankfully, resulted in me choosing Newcastle. It is often difficult to see how to manage your studies and extra-curricular activities when looking in from the outside, which was true for us all as applicants. Fortunately there is no shortage of things to do here, as well as your studies (though as a Mech Eng student, the work is plentiful). Contrary to popular belief, there is definitely room for a life outside of an Engineering Degree, and it is remarkably easy to find a nice balance between the two aspects of university life when you get the hang of it.

Stage 1
First year of Engineering, while undoubtedly a step up from school teaching, is not the hellscape it’s cracked up to be. Sure, there’s several new subjects that you’ve never considered before (e.g. Thermofluid Dynamics, Materials Science etc), but it’s important to remember that these are new to everyone else too. I worried that not taking Further Maths at A-Level would severely hinder me, but the point of Stage 1, I soon realised, is to bring everyone to the same level. For the Further Maths students the topics were very familiar, but the lecturers did a fantastic job of making everything clear and understandable for those of us who didn’t know our imaginary numbers from our eigenvalues. This was also true for mechanics, as the material taught was familiar to many, but not to the extent that it became boring or overly simple. There’s a lot of practical work, no shortage of trips, and enough fresh content to keep you on your toes. Busy though the days may be with learning, there’s still plenty of time after to blow off some steam in the various societies on offer, or in a nearby pub. I never felt particularly overwhelmed, and there was invariably room for relaxation and enjoyment over the year.

Stage 2
Second year is a bit of a gear-change. The complexity of the course content steps up, and the amount of work is greater than that of first year. While this may be the case, and it is certainly unavoidable, it was not the death of my life outside of the lecture theatre. In fact, I joined the Water Polo Society, and trained regularly every week. Keeping active helped me focus and introduced me to a bunch of new people. The nature of Stage 2 meant that our course spent a lot of time together outside of teaching time, and we became significantly closer as a result. More so than Stage 1, the sense of community in our year was present. Luckily we are all quite similar, with enough differences to keep life interesting.

Winding Down
Getting out of lectures and feeling the fresh air on your face is a wonderful sensation, unless it’s past October and the temperatures have plummeted again. The rest of the day is waiting to be filled, and provided I’ve done all my work (even occasionally when I haven’t), I go and enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation. As with most students, Netflix is my friend at times like these. If it’s sunny, some of us will go to the Moor and pass out for a bit/play a game of something.

When I want to do something more active, we will go the gym (for some unfathomable reason we’ve started going at 6am, but I feel great afterwards and oddly have more energy during the day) or hit the climbing wall. There’s also a local pool that’s great for a swim whenever I’m feeling particularly restless.

Part-Time Work
In second year, I got myself a teaching position in the local pool. It’s easy to fit around my studies due to the short hours, and the people there are fantastic. I wouldn’t say its strictly necessary to get a job in first year, as there’s a lot to take in and a job can only add to that feeling. That being said, it’s never a bad thing to have an income, and it takes some of the pressure off finances.

Time Management
I’ve certainly had some trouble with this, especially at first. Being by yourself for the first time, while liberating, is a minefield of potential pitfalls. In first year, it is crucial to develop some good habits in terms of self-discipline, as these will carry forward into future years. It’s tempting to stay up till all hours on a binge-watching session, or go out four times a week, but as the year goes on this can affect the uni side of life. I found it useful to work away from the flat, and especially in second year it is much easier to focus in the library. It’s also easier to go somewhere and do impending work straight after lectures because, lets face it, if you go home intending to do some work later it’s never going to happen. Basically, so long as you use some common sense and, that critical thinking that Mech Eng imparts, you can’t go far wrong.

A day in the life of… a Mechanical Engineering student

Jenny Olsen mechanical engineering student

In this blog post mechanical engineering student Jenny Olsen takes us through a typical day for her, and explains what she loves about her course and being in Newcastle.

I chose Mechanical Engineering as I wanted to study a degree that covered lots of different areas of STEM. I’m really interested in Bio-Mechanical Engineering, but I’m also a big motorsport fan – studying Mechanical Engineering allowed me to pursue many things I was interested in whilst also keeping my career options open.

In a typical week I’d expect three full days of lectures, a day in the lab working on my group project and one day either on an industrial visit or a half-day practical assessment. The industrial visits were really fun. We got to learn some great skills – my favourite visit was to Caterpillar in Peterlee where I got a tour of the facilities and learned how to weld!

My most varied day is Friday – where I spend the morning in lectures and the afternoon working with my engineering team on our group project in the lab. Here’s a look at what you’d be studying if you decided to join us as a Mechanical Engineering student:

9am

To start the day, a mechanics lecture. I was really worried when I joined University that I’d struggle with mechanics because I didn’t study Physics at A level. Thankfully, first semester is mainly just a recap over topics covered at A level and our lecturer explained them really well. I managed to keep up and actually really enjoy the subject!

10am

Next, a maths tutorial. Here’s your chance to ask your lecturers or tutors any questions you have regarding the work covered during the week. This year, there are around 150 first year Mechanical Engineering students – this means that having the opportunity to get  1 to 1 help from a tutor or lecturer is really helpful! Most modules have tutorial sessions throughout the week.

11am

circuit board
We were taught to solder a simple circuit board in an Electrical Engineering practical session

Back to lectures for an hour. In a week, on average only 13 of your contact hours are lectures. Mechanical Engineering is a very diverse subject so expect lots of variety in your timetable. In addition to the lectures and tutorials I’ve already mentioned, you’ll have lots of practical sessions to do – for example I recently completed an Electrical Engineering lab where we learned to solder a small circuit board! This was a great experience – it was lots of fun and quite a challenge as it’s something I didn’t expect to learn as a Mechanical student. Like soldering, lots of the practical skills you’ll learn are not only relevant to the course but really useful for everyday life!

12pm

Time for lunch – an hour off to rest before the practical session on the afternoon. My favourite place to have a relaxing lunch would be the Quilliam Brothers Teahouse, just off Haymarket metro. Alternatively, I’d also recommend bringing a packed lunch, sitting outside and taking in the scenery of the campus – it looks amazing in Spring!

Tulips on campus at Newcastle University
A photo of the tulips outside of the Old Library, where you can sit outside and enjoy lunch

1pm

As an engineering student you’ll learn how to use CAD (Computer Aided Design) software to make digital models of your projects. This is a really useful skill for industry as many engineering companies require you to be comfortable using CAD and digital modelling software. Before the practical session starts, we get a short lecture about a CAD technique that we can use when we’re working on our projects.

Then, we all head to the labs in the Stephenson Building to work in groups on our projects. In first year, my group project has been to build a small turbine. This is the most ‘hands on’ part of the degree, and in my opinion the most fun. We started the year by making a turbine from recycled components, then improved our design and made another from new parts. This involved budgeting, sourcing parts and learning practical skills in the lab to assemble our turbine.

Mechanical engineering students and stage 1 wind turbine project
Two of my team members and myself with our completed turbine ready to be tested in the Stephenson Building

5pm

Time to head home – I don’t live near campus as I live at home, but thankfully there’s plenty of transport links to and from the city centre such as the Metro or the Buses. This also makes it really easy to see other parts of the North East! After a long day in lectures why not take a trip to Tynemouth Beach or Jesmond Dene to relax?

I’ve really enjoyed studying Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle, it’s been a challenge, but definitely worthwhile! I’ve learned so many practical skills that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise and made some great friends. I’ve also been lucky enough to take part in some great extra-curricular activities such as being a Street Scientist and having fun with ‘Give it a go’ activities.