Dinura Gunawardena offers his advice to new students

Hi everyone! My name is Dinura Gunawardena and I am a 3rd year student on the MEng Civil & Structural Engineering with a Year in Industry course at the University of Sheffield.

CIV Dinura

"Some of you may have finalised what you want to study, while others are still unsure. Either way, I have put together some ‘pre-arrival’ advice that applies to all of you. I have done this in a Q&A format based on the most commonly asked questions during student open days. Please note that the advice is very subjective and differs from person to person.

  • What kind of study to do before coming to university?

Personally, before I came to university, I did no background study as such. This is not something any lecturer or parent would be happy to see, but its true. However, I am certain that this did not affect my learning at university. The lecturers and the facilities were fantastic. Everyone was taught as if they had no background knowledge of the subjects before, which really helped us get a good understanding of our first principals. That said, I would advise you to go through the recommended reading list as I have heard that this would give you an added bonus over other students while helping you to grasp new information quicker.

  • What skills do I need to practice before I start?

Keeping up to date with the common technical skills such as A Level maths and basic hand sketches would be great for your first year. I would also recommend looking into any sort of modelling software (i.e. AutoCAD, Revit, 3DSMax). While basic calculations are important, our industry is changing at a rapid pace and software proficiency is an essential skill in the industry. Besides that, always stay curious and be aware of your surroundings, because that is what civil engineering is about. How is this building so tall? What makes this bridge stand up? What prevents a city from flooding? These are very simple questions that keep you interested in the subject while training you to think like a professional engineer.

  • What to expect from Sheffield?

Personally, I have had an incredible student experience here at Sheffield. In terms of the city, I find it to be the perfect student environment. From having a big train station, which makes commuting around the country easier, to being a short bus ride away from the National Peak District park, Sheffield has got it all for me. Having the city centre packed right in the middle of the town makes it convenient for us as students to find anything we need. Slightly further out, the beautiful greenery mixed in with quiet urban streets means that Sheffield has something for everyone. The people are absolutely fantastic as they are used to being surrounded by students throughout the year. The university itself maintains high academic standards while providing amazing extra-curricular support. Competitive/friendly sports teams, over one hundred student led societies, and plenty of activities going on all year round makes it the best university for a great student life.

  • Standard timetable for Civil Engineering?

Contact hours generally depend on which year you are at during your course. Generally, first years tend to have a few more lecture hours as it’s the time where you need to be introduced to a lot of new subject matter. Apart from lectures, you also need to attend tutorials, lab sessions and seminars that assist your education. That being said, it does leave you plenty of time to yourself. Many students have part-time jobs (both on and off campus), and some play for sports teams at high levels, while others may be deeply involved with society work. Having done all three of the above while managing my academics studies well, I would recommend to any new student that as long as you can balance your academics, then you can decide what other activities you can afford to get into.

  • Which accommodation should I choose?

This is a very subjective question so I shall answer this by giving the pros and cons of each one.

Endcliffe Village – This is where I lived in my first year and I absolutely loved it. It is a 20-25-minute walk from campus with regular buses leaving every 10 minutes. It is located in a quieter part of Sheffield, although the village itself can get quite lively. With hundreds of first years, it has plenty going on all the time. With the catered café, open cafeteria, local village shop and its own student bar, it is very convenient. If you can tolerate the longer walk and you want to experience the exciting life of a first year, then Endcliffe is the place for you.

Ranmoor Village – Ranmoor is roughly 5 minutes past Endcliffe making it almost a 30-minute walk to university. Quite opposite to Endcliffe, it is much quieter and less busy. If you are the kind that prefers quiet surroundings (especially if you study in your room till midnight), then Ranmoor would be your best choice. It also has a free gym for occupants, which is an added bonus.

City Accommodation – As per the name, these accommodation units are all located in the city and right opposite the Diamond and the Heartspace (which is where most of your lectures will be held). So if you value that extra half an hour in bed and would prefer a quick two-minute walk into lectures, the city accommodation is a better option."

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