Josephine Wouda Kuipers
"There are so many directions you can go into after studying Mechanical Engineering that it is really up to you what you want to do in life."
My visit to the MINI factory in Oxford two years before coming to Imperial College made me realise how much I enjoyed solving the technical and scientific problems that we are constantly faced with. I found it fascinating to see how this complex manufacturing process leads to the production of cars that you see every day on the street.
Studying Mechanical Engineering is not only about learning the technical skills you need as an engineer, but also about pursuing a project you might be interested in or finding out what role you enjoy most when working in teams. While you are expected to work hard, in hindsight I could have done more social activities next to going to lectures and completing coursework in first year. This is why in my second year I joined the art club, of which I have now been a member for three years, and since then I have also done different sports. It felt great to meet people outside my course and be connected by interests other than engineering. I also play an active role in a group of Mechanical Engineering students where we create resources and crash courses to help each other, which just highlights the sense of community everyone shares. Studying at Imperial is therefore not only about going to lectures and succeeding academically, but rather I encourage people to use these capabilities to add value to society and help others.
Having gone to an international school in Germany before coming to Imperial, I was impressed by the great range of backgrounds everyone came from and by the drive to learn and explore engineering that everyone shared. This was obvious in my third year, when the Design, Make and Test project revealed that you can create innovative solutions in a team of people with different skills and interests. Through these activities I not only found out about what activities and responsibilities I most enjoy when working with others, but also had a lot of fun having the freedom to use the theoretical knowledge learnt in a practical problem.
My advice to prospective students would be that while Mechanical Engineering is not an easy course, it is definitely very rewarding and provides amazing opportunities, whether it is working in industry, completing projects with like-minded but diverse people or joining groups to explore other interests.
During my summers I completed several internships in multinationals within Europe, to experience how the knowledge I gained at Imperial can be applied in practise. After finishing my studies I will first take a year out to do volunteering and perhaps complete an internship in a start-up. I want to use this year to reflect on my future options and broaden my perspectives, before deciding how to pursue my career. After that I might apply for a graduate scheme at a company, complete a PhD or do something entirely different. There are so many directions you can go into after studying Mechanical Engineering that it is really up to you what you want to do in life.