Posts Tagged ‘SEMS’

What are university timetables like for students?

As I begin to settle into my third year, as with the previous years, my weekly timetable begins to take shape. During the first week of term, I was provided with a timetable which includes when and where my lectures will be taking place. This timetable will be used throughout both semesters of my degree course – a semester is part of an “academic term period” which here at QMUL consists of 12 weeks of classes. In addition, QMUL categorize their semesters as “Semester 1”, “Semester 2” and “Semester 3”. Below I have given an example of what my timetable looks like for semester 1, and information on how to read timetables in general.

personal timetable

Image 1: My personal timetable for the subjects I study. (Note: Click on image for clearer view)


How to read timetable 1

Image 2: These are the official QMUL guidelines for how to read your timetable. (Note: Click on image for clearer view)

As you can see, my timetable includes a mixture of IT labs (labs based on specialist computer software) and lectures. I don’t have any seminars for my course, but for many students, this would typically involve getting into groups with your class mates, and discussing in detail, questions set by the lecturer about what was mentioned during lectures. It is also worth noting that in week 7 of each semester, there is a period known as reading week. This is where there is no teaching and it gives students the chance to catch up with their understanding of the course material so far. Finally from image 1, the blank spaces on the timetable indicates free time. Here it is expected students use this time for independent study around the course material.

Next semester I will be getting a new timetable which will have different modules from my first semester. If you want to check out the current general calendar for students at QMUL check out this link. It is also worth being aware that each student’s timetable will be different depending on the course they are studying. They will therefore have lectures at different times, as well as days where they have no lectures.


Back at my old Sixth Form College (Parents Evening)

Hey everyone, i’m Huseyin a Second Year Medical Engineering student at Queen Mary.


Welcome to my brand new blog !


I hope you will all enjoy what goes on at university from my point of view, and will follow me throughout my time at university.

When I finished my A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and English Language and Literature, I thought college was over forever- How wrong I was “haha”. This week I went back to my college to give a talk at a parents evening and I must say, I had a really fun time. I had to speak on a microphone in front of a BIG audience of parents and spoke about what life was like as a university student. One of the things I mentioned was how independent students are, and how you start to learn more about yourself such as things you like that you didn’t before.

The main lesson I learned from this week’s experience being back at college was that it made me realize how much I have improved as a person in every way, such as being able to talk to a big crowd of strangers. There are also so many other things I want to tell you all in my next blogs such as, what I thought about university before I was accepted, or even things such as how I found my lectures (Lessons where a teacher-like person talks) in my first year.

If I covered a topic that didn’t interest you enough in this blog, I’m sure the next blogs will interest you hint: I have also previously took part in really cool societies where I made something fly in the air.


I can’t wait for my next blog … See you all soon !




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.

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.

A Student’s Perspective: The 2014 British Conference for Undergraduate Research

Attending this was the most fun I have had in years. It was better than going on holiday. In December I applied online to present my findings from a summer research project – and in April, Queen Mary sent me to Nottingham so that I would be the QMUL delegate at the 2014 British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR). Science is fascinating to me and as I want to be a scientific researcher. My experience at the BCUR only reinforced this goal.

Travelling to a new place on your own is exciting, and it was quite a journey for me to get to the BCUR. On the train I even played poker with the stranger sat across from me while revising for an exam. After arriving at Nottingham, I met a myriad of people on my way to the conference, all of whom were happy to help me get where I was going.

An image from the BCUR website showing researchers discussing poster presentations.

An image from the BCUR website showing researchers discussing poster presentations.

I did not expect what happened then. Everywhere I went I met people who were welcoming, spontaneous, and just overall awesome. I had dinner with groups of delegates from different universities each day, and would then go to the hall bar with them afterwards. I met Swedish young scientist superstar Ulrika Frising and even a former Miss Wales. It was surprising to me how friendly everyone was, and how eager everyone was to spend time together and get to know each other. I mean: we were complete strangers.

The delegates gave talks or presented posters about their research during the day. It was fantastic to meet so many people with the same passion for science as me. On the second day I presented my poster, which detailed the procedure for synthesizing a novel bioplastic that I designed during the summer before I started university. This plastic is made up of corn starch molecules cross-linked with tartaric acid – a prevalent winemaking waste product. Its biodegradability makes it eco-friendly. Furthermore, it was designed such that it would be edible, opening up a world of possible applications. A research article I wrote exploring the synthesis of this bioplastic is currently under review for publication by the Canadian Young Scientist Journal. To learn more about the BCUR or how to apply to attend next year’s conference, you can visit for information.



Big efforts, Big winners!

Sadly this has taken a year, but once again I am sharing the details of another great experience which I have been so lucky to take part in!

Winning an internal contest to attend the first student conference of your life it’s a unique feeling and would make everyone feel proud of you. But when you win a national medical engineering competition for best undergraduate student project it means you have aimed high and achieved it!

So how did I go about it?  Completely by accident!

For my third year project I am working on finding a new treatment to prevent osteoarthritis, which is a joint disease that causes agonising pain and the only available treatment to date is joint replacement prostheses.

The new technology involves treating cartilage with lithium chloride (LiCl) which is a chemical compound commonly used in clinic as a mood stabilizer to treat bipolar disorders.

Within the research group of Professor Martin Knight, the post-doctoral researcher Dr Clare Thompson, my colleague Habiba Yasmin and I conducted this research project.

The experiments involved taking pieces of cartilage from bovine joints and treating them with LiCl. After the culture period we discovered that LiCl had completely inhibited the degradation that had been artificially caused.

This was certainly a very exciting moment, surely it didn’t mean we had found a cure for osteoarthritis but we had defiantly found something which could turn into something awesome!

Circular bovine cartilage explants submerged in medium (to give nutrients), cytokine (to induced osteoarthritis) and LiCl (to prevent the disease).

Circular bovine cartilage explants submerged in medium (to give nutrients), cytokine (to induced osteoarthritis) and LiCl (to prevent the disease).

My supervisor suggested we would present the project to the 26th Annual Biomedical Engineering Student Project Competition organised by the IMechE. To be honest at first I thought: ‘’Oh… I’m already so busy why would I waste my time on this which I will never win?!?’’

Then Habiba suggested we could consider it and so I thought: ‘’why not? Let’s do it!’’

We presented the abstract and got shortlisted for the final. This involved presenting the project to the judges and all the other guests attending the event. I took the big responsibility of being the one presenting at the final. This required a lot of preparation and rehearsals during which Habiba and I spent  many late nights on Skype making sure I wouldn’t ‘mess up’ on the day!

I must say, I hadn’t been so nervous till the night before during which I only slept 3 hours and I decided that to overcome the fear of making mistakes, I would imagine speaking to an empty room.

I did so.

When I stepped off the stage after the presentation, one of the judges winked at me and whispered: ‘’Good stuff !‘’. I only smiled but with that smile my heart shouted to Habiba: ‘’OH WE MADE IT!!!’’

Myself (left), the judge who winked at me after the presentation (middle) and Habiba (right) holding the certificate and £500 check!



Let me introduce myself. My name is Arturo Mendoza and I am a scientist at heart; the only thing is that I don’t have as much as a bachelor’s degree yet. Nevertheless, one of the things that bring me the most joy in life is carrying out scientific research and being involved in the UK academic community. I don’t know why, my brain must be hard-wired in some such way that these pursuits just make me happy.

Before finishing my A-levels I knew that I liked science, and material science was a field that seemed interesting to me, but I certainly wasn’t as enthusiastic as I feel now – not until I had a crack at carrying out a piece of research over the summer before starting Uni. I remember my mom told me about a school girl in Turkey who won £ 50 000 for presenting her “Science Fair Project” to Google. It intrigued me so after reading a few news reports on it online, I found the research paper she wrote describing her investigation:

I could have written that…

     The only thought going through my mind was that I could’ve easily done that, and perhaps even better in many ways. Something seriously clicked inside me and I was determined from that point onwards to do a piece of research in my own time, out of my own money (It only cost me £30.00) and get it published in a research journal. I planned and carried out the investigation over summer and wrote a research paper about it when I got here. (Well, after the first four weeks of the semester had passed)

Then I opened my eyes and saw what was here: Opportunity. I’ve been going to a wonderful research seminar series organized by two lecturers of SEMS (The School of Engineering and Material Science) where I met a range of people actively involved in cutting-edge research and innovation. Some of them have been kind enough to critique my paper so that I may improve it. A few even extended invitations to work with them in their on-going projects, one of which I accepted.

Now it’s January, and while a friend finishes reviewing my paper, I’m working in a team research project with academics and PhD students all of whom I admire, and hope to learn from. At the same time, I’ve started planning a second personal research project. This time I won’t be working alone, but instead will be teaming up with the smartest girl in my class.  She’s very talented in this research stuff.

Somehow, I still manage to have time to go out twice or thrice a week at night and enjoy past-midnight London at its finest. I love this place. Let’s see where we go from here.

First Parts Finished


Since my previous post, there have been three major developments in my project: I’ve finished and submitted all the blueprints for manufacturing in the university workshop; the first finished part was made; and I’ve started putting together the control software.

I submitted all the engineering drawings for the two robotic arms – both the master and the slave arms. They are going to be made in the university’s workshop. In fact, the handle used on the master arm has already been finished (pictured above). It was made using the university’s 3D printer – which I am still really amazed by. What surprised me the most was just how accurate the finished product was. Now I look forward to putting it to use in the finished prototype.

My supervisor, Dr. M. Hasan Shaheed, who was my personal tutor in the first and second year, and I have been looking at more applications for this technology. Dr. Shaheed has been looking into master slave technology for quite some time and so has had a lot of experience with it. So far, the healthcare industry seems the most promising and Dr. Shaheed has been working on contacting people in both the healthcare and robotics fields who may be interested in my project – all of which is extremely exciting.

As I also mentioned in my last post, I have begun working on the control system. My aim is to set up something simple and then implement it. Then the more complicated stuff can happen later. Like everything else in life, this process seems to be following the 80-20 rule: 80% of the effort goes into making it do 20% of what it’s supposed to – i.e. getting the motors to move. This is a pretty basic part of the control portion of my project, but so far, it seems to be the most time consuming. Because I am using new software and new equipment, there will always be a learning curve involved. The rest of the effort goes into fine tuning the controller so that it performs better. (I am sure that I will revise that statement in the next month once the controller starts to get more complex.)

First Data

The past couple of weeks have been occupied with crunching a lot of data and writing code. I’m now able to control one of my motors with my control program. I’ve included a basic graph showing the motor working. The details of the graph are not really that important – I know it’s meaningless without any scale information – but it’s just supposed to show that my set-up works (and short of a video, this is the next best thing). It may just look like a line on a bit of paper, but to me, this line represents the culmination four weeks of research, anxiety and general um-ing and ah-ing over how I should go about controlling the motors. So, when I saw this data for the first time, I was really, really happy.

It’s obviously not perfect. There is still loads of tuning to do, but I essentially have the foundation for my third year project. The rest of my project is going to be improving on this basic element and replicating it on the other motors once the rig is built – tweaking, essentially. There are going to be some challenges there, but I’ve dealt with that kind of stuff before when I made my initial prototype at home. Implementing the basic control system was always the biggest “if” in my mind, so doing the rest is not going to be nearly as intense.

The timing also couldn’t be better with Christmas coming up soon – I think I’ve earned a couple of days of lying on my parents’ couch and reading sci-fi books.

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