Keeping your options open
MEng Materials Science and Engineering student, Alice discovered her subject area during the university application process and wasn't quite sure what she was letting herself in for.
Having discovered that it combines the subjects she loves (Maths, Physics, Chemistry), and so much more, she has no regrets about her choice.
Now in the fourth and final year of her course, Alice looks back on her Imperial experience and how it has prepared her to enter the next stage of her career, joining Rolls Royce's Graduate Development Scheme as a Engineering Graduate Trainee.
"I’ve always wanted to work towards solving some of the problems hindering global development like the lack of a consistent clean water supply. Amazingly, Materials Science is involved in several fields that try to solve this issue."
When I applied to Imperial to study Materials I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d let myself in for, but I’m so glad I did now.
I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-level and loved all of them.
Materials Science combines all of these and more, I’m so grateful I found it even if it was slightly by accident!
It’s such a diverse subject: you could be learning about biomimetics one lecture and quantum mechanics the next which is part of what makes it so exciting.
Moving to London
Home for me is in Suffolk. It’s pretty quiet there so moving to London was quite a daunting idea.
It isn’t as much of an adjustment as some students make, but the thought of it was still pretty scary.
Having said that once I’d got over the initial shock, London is a really exciting place to be.
My Imperial experience
One of the great things about studying Materials at Imperial is that it covers such a broad base that it leaves the options for your future wide open."
I chose to specialise in Nuclear Engineering after my second year. My choice was motivated by my experience in industry during my second-year summer, a decision I’m immensely happy with.
It allowed me to take modules in both Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, as well as in Materials, which has been incredibly useful in allowing me to get a better idea of many more aspects of the industry than I ever imagined.
One of the great things about studying Materials at Imperial is that it covers such a broad base that it leaves the options for your future wide open.
For example, I’ve always wanted to work towards solving some of the problems hindering global development like the lack of a consistent clean water supply. Amazingly, Materials Science is involved in several fields that try to solve this issue.
Plans after Imperial
Now I’m at the end of my degree, I’m really excited to start the next stage of my career.
I'm incredibly fortunate to be starting at Rolls-Royce in September, having interned with them a couple of times during my degree. I'm going to be an Engineering Graduate Trainee within Nuclear on their Graduate Development Scheme.
I’m sure it’ll provide a whole host of new challenges but I’m really looking forward to seeing how I rise to them.
It is, for example, a slightly daunting prospect entering a sector of engineering where women are still hugely under-represented; even more so than in engineering generally. This really hit home for me when I was looking for jobs – every technical interview I’ve had so far has been conducted by a panel of men.
I struggle to understand quite how the UK can have the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe and yet is home to some of the most powerful engineering firms worldwide – imagine how good it could be if the gender imbalance was no longer an issue and it was recognised that women bring just as much to a team or project as men and are equally as determined.
I think the next generation entering the industry will be critical in changing these perceptions. It's certainly driven me to want to really show what I can contribute to help make that change.
As for my Imperial experience, I hope this isn’t the end of my relationship with the Department, and Imperial more generally, especially given the links that Rolls Royce has with the College – I might be back for a PhD in a few years – watch this space!
Hear more from our Imperial women
Paula – "maths is not just for men"