I got a genuine impression of what it's like to work in industry

Megan Wakeling - Technical Intern at Tufcot Engineering
Megan Wakeling
Extended work placement
MEng Materials Science and Engineering
During the summer between her third and fourth years, MEng Materials Science and Engineering student Megan Wakeling undertook an extended work placement with Sheffield-based composite manufacturer Tufcot Engineering Ltd, working as a Technical Intern.
Megan Wakeling - Technical Intern at Tufcot Engineering

Megan joined Tufcot in May as she completed the third year of her degree, and finished in September in time to embark on her fourth and final year. For some time, Tufcot had been interested in developing a grade of material that could operate to a higher temperature than any of the materials in the current range.

As part of Megan’s placement, she was required to work on a real-life engineering project, so developing a new, higher temperature grade of Tufcot seemed like the perfect fit. The polyester resins and fabrics used in Tufcot’s current material range can operate to around 120°C. The company's aim is to produce a material that can be used at temperatures much higher than this.

Megan began her placement by investigating potential new resins and fabrics, with good thermal properties, that could be incorporated into the Tufcot process. The next stage was to order sample material and eight weeks into Megan’s placement with Tufcot, the first prototype material was made!

It's been really interesting to see the research and development process in action. It's great to be part of a team and see how the trials we run can have an impact on the end product. Being able to spend five months at Tufcot has given me a genuine impression of what it's like to work in industry, and brilliant experience that will help me move on in my career when I finish my degree.

Megan Wakeling

MEng Materials Science and Engineering Graduate, 2019

Megan got a full taste of industrial life, working on multiple projects to help Tufcot with their product development. These included:

  • Developing a grade of Tufcot that is electrically conductive
  • Creating material with a high friction co-efficient (opposed to the low friction co-efficient usually required for bearings)
  • Creating material with high thermal conductivity (for use in applications where friction may lead to heat generation)

As well as considering new resins and fabrics, the company has also been investigating different additives and fillers, showing that even small additions of different fillers can dramatically change the properties of the Tufcot material.

Bob Birchley, Technical Manager at Tufcot said: "Megan has been a great person to have on the team. She is enthusiastic and keen to learn and has made a valuable contribution to the development of our new materials. It's great to have this connection with the University, as we have access to excellent students, academics and testing facilities!"

Megan made such an impression while at Tufcot that she was featured in the September/October issue of unLTD magazine.

As part of the course structure, MEng students in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering undertake a five-month industrial placement or extended research project. The industrial placement is designed to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding within an employment context as well as build relationships with contacts for future career opportunities.

We aim to match the students' interests within materials science, with one of our industrial partners to provide an engaging and rewarding experience.

Top in the Russell Group

We are the top-ranked Russell Group university for Graduate Prospects in Materials Science and Engineering. (The Times Good University Guide 2020)

Explore the University

Discover what sets Sheffield apart at our next on-campus open day.