Yunpeng Zhu

MEng Civil and Structural Engineering

Yunpeng studied an NCUK programme prior to coming to Sheffield. You can find out more about his time with NCUK on his NCUK profile page.

Watch my video to see me talk about my experiences as a student at the University of Sheffield. 

I am currently a third-year undergraduate student within the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Before studying here I took an NCUK foundation year course in China. Yunpeng170

I heard about the University of Sheffield at an open day at my NCUK foundation school in China. I did some research and finally choose to study civil engineering here. After two years’ amazing experience within my prestigious but friendly department in Sheffield, I decided to upgrade my previous three-year BEng course to the four-year MEng course. Our department works on cutting-edge research and it was my great pleasure to have a research flavor in my undergraduate study. For example, under supervision, I worked on a recently developed structural analysis method ‘Discontinuity Layout Optimization’ (DLO) in the Computational Mechanics Group over the summer in 2014.

I think the teaching and study methods used at this University are very efficient and effective. In my department, I have an average of twenty hours’ contact time per week. The department combines traditional lectures with lots of practical classes such as water labs, bridge design, multi-storey building design, and field trips, where we can develop our team-working skills. The department has strong links to industry and we have opportunities to visit companies and apply for internships via industrial partner schemes. There are also many job fairs tailored for civil engineering students during semesters where students can get first-hand information about companies. All these efforts enhance students’ future employability.

As an international student I really appreciate the multicultural values of Sheffield. We can make lots of friends here from different countries and I’d say that Sheffield has the best student life in this country, as our University has been ranked first in the Times Higher Education Student Experience for several years. I’m a member of the University’s Civil Engineering Society (CivSoc) which offers various activities including traveling, industrial talk and socials. Sheffield is also one of the greenest cities in the UK.

I enjoy my current subject and I am particularly interested in structural analysis and design. On completion of my current degree I wish to work in industry as I have already gained experience through undertaking internships during my undergraduate study. Alternatively I may continue doing a PhD on the bespoke DLO method mentioned earlier.

I would suggest that prospective students develop the critical thinking in their preliminary education. The university education is no longer in a traditional teacher-student mode and it is therefore important that students know how to identify and justify problems by themselves. This is even more crucial when working on open-ended research where things may go wrong at any time, and when everything needs to be reshuffled. I would also suggest students interested in my course learn to have more design initiative, for example, as structural engineers nowadays need to gain more insights into the architectural backgrounds of projects, rather than solely rely on numerical factors such as design codes and standards.

You can find out more about me and other East Asian students' experiences here in Sheffield on the East Asia blog.