Caroline Taylor (MSc Advanced Materials Science & Engineering 2016) gained a place on Instron's Graduate Scheme after completing her Master's here at Imperial. We caught up with Caroline to hear how her love for materials has helped her in her job, as well as what she got up to at Imperial.

How did you find life at Imperial as a woman?

"I enjoyed studying in London, whilst surrounded by a wide choice of relevant opportunities and events. For example, I attended the launch of a policy paper entitled "Improving the Visibility of Women in STEM" hosted by The London Forum for Science and Policy, as well as the annual Anthea Swan lecture and other events forming part of the inaugural lecture series.
Within these events, the achievements of women were of particular inspiration to me. The Department of Materials held regular internal seminars, and organised external speakers, to keep students up to date on current research in Materials Science and career opportunities. These were very useful and provided fantastic networking opportunities."

Why did you choose Imperial as the place to follow your interest in STEM subjects?

"The reputation of Imperial, and its brilliant location, meant that it was an opportunity not to be missed."

What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?

"While at Imperial, I commuted from outside London. As a result of this, I started to treat university like work, in that I completed nearly all of my studies by staying on campus during normal working hours. This helped with my time management, meaning I could fully relax at home in the evenings without worrying about my ‘to do’ list. A combination of practical lab work at Imperial and the work experience I gained during that year helped me to decide the career I want to have."

"As a departmental class representative I gained experience in attending meetings and dealing with different situations. Having the opportunity to work part-time in retail for a school outfitters also benefitted me in the real world, as I interacted with many internal and external customers."

What is your fondest memory of your time here?

"One of the activities I took part in was helping to organise a Christmas party for my class. This was a fantastic way to get to know my classmates better, and for everyone to spend time together."

Please tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.

"During my MSc, I was fortunate enough to gain a place on the Graduate Scheme at Instron. The company designs and manufactures mechanical testing equipment to test materials properties such as strength, fatigue and elasticity. Within the 2-year Graduate Scheme, I will undertake three placements which can be based in either technical or commercial roles within the business. My first placement is a technical role within R&D where I am developing further design/mechanical engineering understanding."

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?

"While at university, I always enjoyed learning about applications for different materials – the practical application of scientific knowledge to real life applications. This has translated well into my job, as Instron’s customers tend to be concerned with behaviour of a particular material in relation to some specific application."

What advice would you give to girls who are thinking about studying STEM, particularly at Imperial?

"When studying STEM subjects, I always like to think about what the studies mean in reality, what the practical application could be. This gives studies deeper meaning than learning for an exam or piece of coursework – STEM subjects are practical subjects that have real life implications. When I was younger, I really enjoyed solving puzzles and problems – as I got older, I realised that I could be an engineer and solve problems as my job."