Kacper's Sheffield journey - from exciting beginnings to an industrial placement year with ZF Group
The below blog post was written by third year MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, Kacper Sikorski, about his journey so far studying in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield and his time working with ZF Group so far. Thank you to Kacper for sharing his experiences with us!
My university experience has had a great start in Sheffield. Prior to moving in I discovered as much as I could about the University and the city itself, and this made me even more excited to begin my journey. I was not disappointed - since my arrival at the University, I have felt very welcomed. From Welcome Week in my first year, where I met plenty of like-minded people with whom I am still friends, to working with staff members who have done a brilliant job ensuring that I have enjoyed adapting to a new chapter in my life - I have had a great experience.
During my time at the University, I have always sought development opportunities and believe me, in Sheffield, everyone can find something for them! I signed up for a Sheffield Mentors scheme to assist others, inspired by my own experiences. I also joined a few societies and teams, I was also a member of projects such as Kestrel and the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA). I even had a chance to lead Sheffield University Stratosphere Programme (SunStratos). I encountered some small wins and losses along the way, and each of these endeavours shaped my soft skills as well as sharpened my engineering expertise. Throughout my undergraduate studies, lectures and staff members were always supportive. I had mobility problems for a while, caused by rupturing my Achilles tendon, and the EEE Department has helped me with the problems I faced as a result.
I also secured a summer internship in 2021, despite fewer offers available due to the Covid-19 outbreak. At that time, my knowledge of electronic and electrical engineering, and the skills acquired during both my studies and extra-curricular activities definitely helped me achieve this.
While progressing into my third year of higher education, I was mindful of the importance of securing my placement year. My personal recommendation is to start working on your applications as soon as possible. Writing them can be quite challenging. Thankfully we are fortunate enough to have an incredible Year in Industry team at the University of Sheffield who make the whole experience less stressful. I submitted plenty of applications and got a few interviews, alongside invitations to assessment centres for competitive companies. It was a crazy time, and sometimes I had to face some disappointment, but the Year in Industry team helped so much throughout. Matthew Watts from the team in particular did a brilliant job supporting my applications, helping me to prepare for every interview and encouraging me to pursue my goals when I needed encouragement. I was very happy to succeed in getting onto a competitive placement year, accepting an offer from ZF Group - the world's leading company specialising in the automotive industry.
A highlight of my time so far with ZF Group has been the opportunity I had to participate in the London Formula E Grand Prix, which was an incredible event. My employer provided tickets for the event and transport to London to enable placement students to attend. An exciting part of the year, ZF Group collaborates with Mahindra Group, and the cars created then go on to compete in Formula E. I thoroughly enjoyed all the attractions there, watched qualifying races, duels and the main race itself, and even got to have a go myself in a Formula E car simulator! This was a priceless experience for a placement student!
I feel very lucky to be working in the Research and Development Hub as an Associate Electronics Engineer. The time I've been able to spend observing future trends and working on real engineering projects has provided me with a lot of insight. The lab facilities are advanced, and I already feel like I've had great opportunities to develop my skills further here. I've had the chance to work on lots of different projects too, so life is definitely not dull! Importantly for a workplace, I have found everyone in the team to be welcoming and considerate. The other students also carrying out their industrial placement year are like-minded people, and together we create a cohort that works well together. I have loved my experience at ZF so far, and look forward to seeing what's next!
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We're in the top 10 UK Electronic and Electrical Engineering Departments (QS World University Rankings 2021).
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