3rd year, Medical Engineering with Industrial Experience
Hi, I'm a 3rd year Medical Engineering student from QMUL, and am currently working on a year long industrial placement. As well as my studies I try and get involved with as much as I can both in and outside of uni. I am involved with the universities mentoring scheme, am a student ambassador, and take Japanese language and martial arts classes in my free time.

Industrial Liaison Forum

RJC_5013webThe March Industrial Liaison Forum was this week, and a number of SEMS students who are currently on placements were invited to talk to current students about their experiences so far. Not only was this a great opportunity for us to advertise the year in industry scheme, but also it was nice to talk to other placement students and hear about how they had found their year so far. At 1pm, myself and the other placement students were sat in front of a large group of current SEMS students. Crawford Blagden (SEMS Industrial Experience Manager) began asking us to explain in turn our own experiences of applying to placements and the assessment and interview process.

I am sure it was very useful for the prospective placement students to learn about this process and what is involved in an industrial placement. I also found it extremely interesting. Since all I know of industry is my own experiences, it was nice to hear about how other students were having different experiences of their work placements, and how the work they had been doing differed from my own.

I definitely think that an industrial placement is a personal experience, where what you gain is reflective of the work you do, the effort you put in and the attitude you take towards your work.

Hopefully all of the students who attended the talk enjoyed it and found it useful in preparing for the application process, and will go on to find interesting industry placements of their own.

Starting an Industrial Placement

I was quite nervous in the run up to beginning my 1 year placement at Buhler Sortex. Other than a small summer placement the previous year, I had little prior experience of engineering in industry. Whilst I felt that my knowledge of the course material was strong I was unsure how well it would translate in real life situations. I had received correspondence from the company regarding accommodation, travel to work and the surrounding area, as well as what I will be expected to wear and what time to arrive on my first day. This, along with learning more about the company and meeting some of my future colleagues on the interview day, made me feel far more comfortable entering a new place with a completely different group of people and routines.

I began the placement on the 14th of July. Much of the following 2 weeks was filled with introductions and basic training. I was introduced to the important (environmental, safety and business) regulations that must be followed by the company, including the formal process of patenting. This was something I had briefly touched on during my time at university, but having it explained with reference to real life examples helped to deepen my understanding of why and how patenting is involved in engineering.

I was also given an introduction to the validation process, including how it works, who performs validation on parts that are designed by the company and what the main aims of the validation process are.

My first 2 weeks did not however, just consist of training programmes and meetings. I was given other tasks for when there was no schedule training. From my first day I was introduced to Autodesk inventor (the company’s main CAD software)

By my 3rd day, I felt comfortable enough with the software to progress to something more challenging. I was asked to produce a very light visual model of one of the companies machines that could be used when designing plant layouts for customers. The thought that only 3 days into my placement, I would have the opportunity to produce work that will be used directly to help customers was exciting. Whilst this early responsibility was rather daunting, I felt that I was up to the challenge and would try my hardest to produce the work to the standard required.

In less than 2 weeks, I had finished this mini-project and had moved on to a more challenging project. I was asked to work on an enclosed, individual, customer driven, research project. This involved creating a new type of bracketry, to allow a higher level of machine customisation. This meant that the work I would do on this project would have a significant impact on the machines sold by the company, with products that I was designing going on to be used by customers. This placement has been very interesting and enjoyable so far, and I can’t wait to see what other work I will be working on as the placement progresses.

From Medicine to Medical Engineering

Tissue Engineering

I study Medical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), but that’s not how I began my university career. Originally I was accepted into the university to study medicine.

Like almost every medical school applicant, I had spent most of my secondary school years knowing that I wanted to be a doctor. For me, it was a love for science and problem solving as well as a desire to help people that sparked my interest in the subject. As a result, my GCSE and A level choices (biology, chemistry, physics and maths) had all been guided towards a career in medicine. I had read the Lancet and New Scientist prior to applying, and had tried to learn as much as I could about new advancements in medical technology and patient care. Medical technology was something that particularly interested me, and which I spoke about a lot at interview.

When I started medical school I found it very interesting, and enjoyed the mixture of lecture based, problem solving and practical clinical skills teaching. However, one of the aspects of medicine that interested me the most seemed to be completely absent from the course! I felt that there was not any real emphasis on the research and development side of the field.

As the year progressed, I began to think that maybe a career in medical research or technology would be a better choice for me. I looked at other medical related courses available at the university and came across Medical Engineering – a subject I had never previously heard of – which seemed to offer everything I felt was missing from my medical course.

After speaking to some of the lecturers and tutors, and finding out more about the course. I moved to the School of Engineering and Material Science (SEMS) at the end of my first year and began studying Medical Engineering.

The mixture of modules taught are very varied, with some based in pure engineering (such as Dynamic Systems in Engineering), and others with a focus more on how engineering can be related to anatomy and biological functions (e.g. Fluid Dynamics of the Cardiovascular System). QMUL is a great place to study the subject, with research being carried out in a number of key and exciting areas, like tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and orthopaedic implant design.

As well as the course being great, SEMS has provided a lot of other support. With regular tutor meetings and the Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) mentoring scheme, I felt completely at home when I began the course. Additionally the school provides assistance to students in finding work experience and placements. I undertook a month long internship in Singapore last summer and am currently working in London on a 1 year industrial placement, both of which were advertised by SEMS. These opportunities have not only been interesting and fun, but will improve my employability in the future.

I can honestly say that choosing to study Medical Engineering here at QMUL has been the best decision I have ever made. Not only have I found the course content fascinating, but I have had the opportunity to see world class research, met some brilliant people, and been able to get involved in an exciting and rapidly developing field.

Engineers in the Making!

As a student ambassador for SEMS (the School of Engineering and Material Science), one of the potential duties involved is assisting with school visits. Sometimes local school students will come and visit the university to gain an insight into what sort of things we do here, and get a feel for the place.

Recently, a year 12 A-level physics class came to SEMS for a tour of the Aerospace facilities, listen to a talk about engineering at university and taking part in 2 practicals on Young’s Modulus. As one of the ambassadors helping out on the day, I was overseeing one of the experiments. The class was split into 2 groups and in the morning I was with 1 group providing guidance on the experiment and chatting to them about what it was like to study engineering here. Many of the students I spoke to were interested in pursuing engineering in higher education and were full of questions. It was great speaking to them and telling them about the course I do and what they can expect from an engineering degree.

After a short lunch break and a few cakes, the 2 groups swapped and the other half of the class came to do the experiment I was overseeing. I was pleased that the 2nd group seemed just as interested and inquisitive as the 1st.

I really enjoyed the whole day and the chance to chat about engineering to people who were interested, and I hope that the visiting students enjoyed their day just as much.

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