1) Why did you choose Imperial Materials?
Everyone already knows Imperial is a prestigious university and this plays a large role in the application process for many students. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t in mine. Getting the opportunity to study at world-class university was a goal I was willing to work towards. Although having lived about 40 miles away from central London for most of my life, I had hardly spent any time there. Therefore, travelling on the train and tube for the open day was a new experience for me. The best decision I made was to avoid opinions on the internet about London and Imperial; after all, the open-day is there for a reason. The atmosphere of the university was welcoming when I arrived, and it truly felt like the place I wanted to spend the next 4 years.
I chose Materials due to the overlap of multiple different disciplines within the course: Engineering, Maths and Physics. Additionally, being involved in laboratory work experience and reading books like ‘Stuff Matters’ really did spark my interest in the subject. The final step was to visit Imperial. The staff in Materials were helpful, friendly and more importantly, passionate about the course. After touring the department and speaking to some older students about their experiences, I decided it was the place for me.
After accepting my offer, I read many online forums and articles and noticed the numerous negative comments circulating on the internet, criticising the lack of social life at Imperial. Ultimately, your time here at Imperial is what you make it. Therefore, my advice to you is to avoid such online forums and, if you choose to come, come with an open-mind.
2) What is it like to study in London?
London is a busy place. As obvious as this is, many people don’t realise the wealth of opportunity present there. It has everything: from parks and museums to future employers and work. This is one of the greatest advantages of living in London: networking events, internships and interviews become a few stops down the tube. Not only this, London is the place for having a great social life: shopping centres, bars, clubs and restaurants are all easily reachable by tube or bus. If you can’t find something to do, you’re definitely doing something wrong. Many people complain about the prices, the crime, the pollution, however, taking all factors into consideration and weighing the advantages in, I think it’d be silly to give up the once in a lifetime opportunity to live, work and study in one of the world’s best universities in the heart of a city that never sleeps.
3) What do you like about the course so far?
Materials is a course which integrates Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering. Hence it is the course you should take if your interests span these three areas. The course is well taught with lectures, workshops and labs spread throughout the terms. The concepts taught in lectures are interesting, but seeing these concepts play out in labs is not only cool, but also a way of reinforcing content without mindlessly reading textbooks and attending then re-watching lectures. Having a module which focused on the challenge of solving a real engineering problem, with a device you get to manufacture, was also a breath of fresh air away from lectures. This was easily my favourite module of the year: working in a team to design and manufacture an actuator from scratch. Although we didn’t get to assemble the final product due to unforeseen circumstances, the collaboration and design aspects were highly informative and gave an insight to real Engineering work e.g. Arduino and Solidworks.
On the more social side, the department hosted many activities throughout the year including the Chinese New Year celebrations and the weekly wellbeing activities. These were welcomed as it is important to maintain a balance between academia and social activities. The relatively small cohort (around 100 people) is one of the greatest things about this course, as you get to know everyone more than just a simple “hi”. It almost becomes a second family.
4) What your typical day like?
University life is quite different from school. For the first time, I was completely responsible for myself.
Living in Woodward has its many pros. Travelling is not one of them. After getting to university at 9am and having lectures until 12pm, I had either labs or workshops in the afternoon. Friday afternoons were Design Study (Engineering module). Much of the rest of my time in the second term was spent rehearsing for a show called EMW (Indian Society’s cultural show), clocking just over 150 hours in rehearsals. I was also playing RSM Badminton before EMW was my largest commitment. By the end of this term I was getting back to accommodation at 11pm due to rehearsals. Balancing workload and extracurriculars was becoming even more of a challenge in addition to taking general care of myself; this experience improved my time management skills and helped me to stay calm in stressful situations.
Due to lockdown, the third term was quite unconventional. We were forced to attend lectures through Microsoft Teams and perform labs remotely, from the comfort of our homes. In my opinion, the department made the best efforts to allow this remote term to run as smoothly as possible.
Overall, Imperial has been a fruitful experience so far and I am eager to see what’s in store for us over the next few years.