Design Engineering undergraduate

Jessica smiling at the camera.

I first visited Imperial on a campus tour of the Civil Engineering facilities. I got to look at the lecture halls and teaching spaces and talk to a lecturer from the department.  

Imperial seemed like a really cool place to study but by the end of the tour I’d kind of figured out that I didn’t want to do civil engineering.

I still wanted to study an engineering course but I wanted one that had a bit more creative freedom. 

A few weeks later I found out about Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering. My course sounded exactly like what I wanted to do.

A lot of other universities offered design engineering as a module but it was quite hard to find universities that offered it as a standalone course. 

The Design Engineering building from the outside.

Enjoying the city 

What I love about being in London is that there’s so much going on – the energy is really amazing.  Even though I’m originally from London, some parts are still new to me too.

If I want to do something artsy or visit a nice market, I’ll visit places in East London, like Shoreditch, or head to Camden Town, where there are nice little stores and places to buy vintage clothes.  

West London is for serious retail therapy and shopping and then Central London is for everything else – nights out, food, relaxing, going to the cinema. 

Where I live now is on the Thames River Walk and there’s a public garden right next to me. I like going for walks or escapes in the garden, or I invite my friend to have a picnic and watch the river from my balcony. 

Jessica smiling while holding her phone.
Jessica sitting on a park bench.

Getting advice from older students

My course has been a real learning experience.  

There’s a lot to learn because it’s such a broad degree and covers so many areas. I’m learning everything from interface design to robotics. 

I’m in my final year now and I’m excited to get started. I’ve chosen elective modules that I’m really interested in and can sink my teeth into topics that I want study and maybe have a career in. 

I was involved with the Mums and Dads Scheme in my first year. It’s really simple – you sign up and get paired with someone in the year above in the same department and they act as your ‘parent’ during your time at the College. 

My ‘dad’ has helped me a lot. We’d catch up periodically and if I was stuck on a project or coursework, he would give me advice and help me figure it out. 

I look to him for inspiration for what to do with my career because he’s working in user experience (UX), which is an area I’m interested in too. It’s been great to see the path he took, that I can also follow.

He’s graduated now but we’re still in touch – he even helped me look for companies to approach for my placement. 

Securing paid work experience

My course includes a paid six-month placement and last summer I worked at a consultancy firm in West London.  

I was mainly working on user experience (UX) and user interface design which was really interesting.

I’d only dabbled in UX briefly on my course as there are projects we work on where we can incorporate it into our designs, but I’d only covered the theory of it.  

The placement was a great exposure to the world of UX. I got involved straight away and had a big team around me so we could support each other.  

I got to try things out on my colleagues, like testing the viability of new products. By the end of the placement, I was in charge of wireframing new apps and designs, which was exciting. 

A close-up photo of a VR headset.

Learning to ask for help

When I first came here, I didn't like to ask for help. But I was fortunate to have a great personal tutor, who I could offload to periodically when it was getting too much.

He helped to signpost me to the right place for further support at the College.  

I’ve used the Health Centre’s services for counselling and therapy and it's been good.

It’s helpful to speak to someone who's unbiased, understands the experience of someone at Imperial and can support you.  

My favourite part of my studies have been my elective modules because it was a different environment to what I was around otherwise. In the electives, I got to meet people from completely different disciplines, especially in my prototyping module this year.  

My team was made up of mechanical engineers and aerospace engineers and we could come up with ideas together.

It was interesting to see how other people think and the kind of solutions that they came up with – the different knowledge they had acquired.   

A doctor speaks to a student at the Imperial Health Centre.
A workshop within the Faculty of Engineering building.

Finding career support 

The Careers Service at Imperial is great.

They have a jobs site that you can subscribe to as a student and you receive notifications of new student jobs that are available, which is really handy if you’re looking for part-time work. 

I also used the service when I first joined. They helped me improve my CV and think of the skills I have gained from my course and past jobs – the skills that employers are really looking for. 

They were a big help with my placement in my third year. They checked over my placement application for me, helped me to make it stronger and reviewed my portfolio of past projects and work.

Before I had my interview, I went to the service to do some interview practice which was helpful and made me feel so much more prepared.  

I actually got the placement role I interviewed for, so their help paid off. 

Jessica and a friend walking through the park.

A time lapse photo from a breakout area in the Design Engineering building.
Jessica grinning at the camera.

Thinking about my future

I’m coming to the end of my final year and I’ve been thinking about my career recently.

I feel like it’s crunch time now with applications for graduate roles. I’m applying to anything that incorporates user design with business strategy or business solutions.  

I really enjoy UX from what I’ve experienced on my placement and I did a module last year which introduced me to coding and backend web development.  

I want to start out in frontend web development, which is what I’m currently working towards.

Then, over time, I want to get into backend development and coding. I find that side super interesting. 

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Students smiling while gathered around a laptop.