The course content is really varied - you learn a lot of really interesting things and there’s a lot of avenues that you can go down
Here’s a day-in-the-life video focusing on Tom’s uni experience when he was studying with us! Keep watching for an amazing high-speed skating compilation out in the peak district at the end…
When Tom was studying with us, we asked him:
Where do you see your degree taking you in terms of career? Are you planning to stay in academia or go into industry?
"After University I’m planning on going into industry, as I have always enjoyed the more practical side of electronic engineering and hope to see the results of work I have contributed to in real products and solutions. To gain some experience and help with career choices I took on a summer placement role after my second year, which gave me some insight into what its like to work on a real project within an engineering team. I will also be doing a year long placement after my third year, from which I hope to gain experience on a wider range of projects and work in an industry that I hope to pursue a career in after I finish my degree."
And he did just that… we caught up with him six months after graduating to ask him a few questions reflecting on his time here, and finding out what he’s up to now!
Why did you decide to study EEE?
Mainly I was good at maths and physics and I wanted to put those skills to good use, so engineering seemed a good choice for my future career - and then electronics specifically - I’ve always been interested in how things work and wanted to be able to understand and learn how to make my own electronic devices.
For me, Sheffield had a good range of courses and options within the course that you could pick - and I also found when I came and looked round that it had a really good range of facilities and lab space to work in, which I think is really important for electronics because there’s a practical aspect to the course as well. The other thing I liked about Sheffield was the surroundings - the peak district, the hills - it’s great for things outside of university as well.
Any advice for students considering EEE at Sheffield?
I would say go for it! I think it’s a really good course to do, because the course content is really varied - you learn a lot of really interesting things and there’s a lot of avenues that you can go down and specialise in later on. I also think it’s good for career options even if you’re not going to go into engineering after university. It’s a really useful set of skills to have - that analytical mindset, the teamwork you need to do, etc.
What piece of advice would you give to yourself at a younger age?
I think one piece of advice would be to make sure you use all the resources that are available at university - the tutors, the library, the online resources - just put it all to good use because that’s what they’re there for. They’re a really good resource for helping to develop your understanding. If you’re struggling with something - go and speak to your tutor about it. If you’re struggling with an application for a job - go and speak to your supervisor or someone in the department. At the end of the day, that’s what they’re there to do!
What first inspired you to pursue a role in research and development consulting?
The range of opportunities within it and the varied workload it offers means that you can get a lot of different experience. For me it’s about keeping my options open in terms of different types of electronic engineering work, different skills, using different technologies. You’re always applying new technologies into new products and I really like the idea of working on something and then being able to see it out in the real world doing something - that’s what excites me about R&D consulting!
Is there anything in particular that drew you to Sagentia as a company?
What drew me to Sagentia was looking at their white papers and case studies, it looked like they had a really interesting portfolio of work that they had already done and I wanted to get involved in that. They seemed to have a lot of opportunities for developing in terms of getting close to the designs and working with clients.
How did you go about developing the skills that you still use for your job now when you were at uni?
A big one is probably just how to digest information - in electronics design you’re doing a lot of reading data sheets and looking at different components and products and things that are out there, and having to learn new techniques and apply formulas and maths. It’s that ability to pull together the right bits of information and apply the right formulas and techniques when you need to.
Have you encountered any unexpected challenges in your role so far?
The biggest challenge I’ve probably encountered when transitioning to a student at university to working in R&D consulting is probably managing my time - or dealing with your own time. One of the things that’s really important is being able to estimate how long you’re going to take for that particular task, which is difficult when you’ve never done that particular task before - so there’s a bit of an unknown unknown in terms of how long something is going to take you and how you then make that estimate. That was a bit challenging, because uni is a bit less structured, so you can end up doing these all nighters to meet deadlines and things like that. That doesn’t really work when you’re in a team with other people and it’s not just independent design, so you really need to be able to work out how long things are going to take.
How would you describe your future career goals?
In terms of future career goals, I want to continue building things up in terms of technical experience and in terms of teamwork and presenting. I would like in the future to take more responsibility in design roles and take a bigger ownership of work - whether that’s being a technical lead on a project, or even looking to the future managing projects and working closer with clients. I suppose those are my goals for the next five years!
What is the one thing during your time at Sheffield that you would say has helped you most with your current role?
The teamwork aspect for sure - there are two main project standouts which are the SHIPs project and the final year MEng project that we do. Those really helped me develop my skills in terms of managing the relationships between the team members and how you pose questions and present information and results to the project customer. That was a really useful experience in terms of how you pull together the right questions for them and get the most out of that meeting you have with them. I think the thing with technical skills is that you can learn it more independently through reading textbooks and reading online resources and things like that, so I do think the teamwork aspect is the big thing I got from my university experience that is still really relevant to me now.
What are your best memories from your time at Sheffield?
Probably the social aspect - whilst I was here I made lots of great friendships, especially the people I was living with in first year so my best memories are probably things like going out for walks with them on the weekends, doing to the parks, going down the pub - I’m still good friends with a lot of the people I met at university now, I still go and see them at weekends - that’s probably the best aspect!
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