The facilities are excellent and the opportunities presented to you are world-class

A profile photo of Matthew Cooper.
Matthew Cooper
Associate, Deloitte
Aerospace Engineering MEng with Year in Industry
After undertaking an 18-month industrial placement at Rolls-Royce, Matthew now works at Deloitte Forensic, where he uses data analytics to detect and prevent financial crime.

What are your main responsibilities?

Working at Deloitte Forensic, my broad responsibility is for performing data analytics and data science for detection and prevention of financial crime. More specifically it involves working with SQL databases to analyse data alongside internal and external teams of other professionals working on cases. We work with clients of all sizes but being based in the London office you are often working for an international client and that means the volumes of data involved can be vast.

Briefly outline any previous roles:

18-month industrial placement Systems Engineer at Rolls-Royce during my degree.

Why did you choose to study Aerospace Engineering at Sheffield?

I chose Sheffield due to the great facilities, brilliant campus, the historic reputation for being an excellent engineering school and it's proximity to the Peak District.

I wanted a university who could offer world-class academics to share their knowledge and ways of teaching, which is precisely what Sheffield provided. I was lucky enough for the Diamond to be built while I was there.

Finally, as a keen cyclist, having the Peak District on my doorstep was a massive highlight.

Your job sounds like a fascinating role. What have the biggest learning curves/challenges you have encountered so far?

Probably the biggest learning curve has been learning how to use relational databases, as well as other programming languages like PySpark, Scala and to a lesser extent Visual Basic. Although I had some skills from my aerospace course, I’m using languages that I did not have prior experience with, and using them in a commercial setting requires a different approach than if I was writing code for a university assignment or project.

Further to this, getting up to speed with industry-specific knowledge has also been challenging, but much of the base-level knowledge is interesting to know about, and pretty accessible to someone who has little prior knowledge.

Could you describe a typical day?

I typically spend my day working on a mixture of client projects and business development work. Client work can vary with tasks ranging from the loading of a number of unstructured data sources into a database, through to client meetings to understand what they think of the latest visualisation dashboard delivered to them and how we can make it even better.

Within business development, I have been focused on developing data science approaches to some well-known Forensic problems like detecting fraudulent transactions or identifying customers who exhibit behaviour that is riskier than others.

I work in a small team, and spend some parts of my day developing ideas and concepts, discussing the work we have already done, and how to fix problems that we have come up against since we last met.

It’s a different way of working, but I really enjoy it as it encourages creativity and independence in developing an approach to a problem, combined with the support your peers and seniors being happy to offer their thoughts on the work you have done so far.

How did your course prepare you for your current role?

My development for my current role became especially prominent in my third and fourth years, where I worked on a data science project in conjunction with Rolls-Royce and this became to really crystallise my experience and interest in handling data and gaining insight to it.

Professor Tony Dodd and Dr Andy Mills were essential in helping me to realise my project and really understand what I wanted to do and how to go about moving into it. While my current role is not engineering, the methods of working and the skills needed are very similar and the change into a different industry hasn't felt difficult.

I believe this is definitely enabled by the fact that aerospace is a multidisciplinary course, where you also gain some experience in law and accounting, as well as in project-based work.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Helping to implement a vital safety protection system in a current Rolls-Royce turbofan engine project during my industrial placement.

I can't say much more than that, but I was afforded a lot of responsibility very early in my internship and this meant I quickly became the subject matter expert on this topic for my team, presented to the international client on the topic and provided support to a number of other projects as a result.

The exposure this gave me was great for my development, and for my personal confidence in my capability.

What advice would you give to a student interested in studying Aerospace Engineering at Sheffield?

Sheffield is an amazing city and university - I loved every minute. The facilities are world-class and the opportunities presented to you are excellent, so I'd advise you to grab them with both hands and make the most of every single one.

Sheffield as a place is also great, with so many students the atmosphere is so good, especially on a sunny day in the peaks or in one of the parks. If you're all about the outdoors too then Sheffield is for you, the Peak District is one of my favourite places in the UK and from Sheffield is 30 minutes on your bike or 15 in the car!

What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a similar career?

Develop a range of skills, and think about how you can transfer what you are learning. Have a look early what sorts of things you might need to know - not as specific as what programming languages or software but maybe consider whether you need to be a capable programmer, or whether you need to be able to use a CAD tool.

This will then let you develop those skills over the course of your whole degree course rather than trying to get last-minute experience in your final year.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would wholeheartedly recommend doing a year in industry, I developed so much during 18 months out at Rolls-Royce and learnt an incredible amount. It meant that when I came to start my application process for graduate jobs, I wasn't as nervous about assessment centres/application forms as I'd done it all before.

If you perform well then you can secure an offer of a graduate job for once you finish the degree, which definitely makes the final year much less stressful.

If you can't justify a whole year, summer internships are a great option (especially in the first year if you can get one, and it's a nice top up of money before you move into a student house!). Both of these gave me a lot to talk about in interviews which I felt helped me stand out rather than just discussing university projects which most other students will have something similar to.

The final thing I'd recommend is if you don't want to spend your summer doing something work-related then consider a program like Camp America.

These programs develop professional skills in a very different environment to an office, but particularly as you get a bit older you can get to positions of seniority within camps, which again is a brilliant thing to discuss at interview.

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