- Course: Civil and Structural Engineering MEng
Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?
There are many reasons I decided to study at the University of Leeds. First of all, its reputation. The University of Leeds is part of the Russell Group and one of the best in the UK (top 10) and in the World (top 100). The School of Civil Engineering is also one of the best in the UK (top 5). They offer a wide range of Year Abroad opportunities and have strong Industry links (rated top 5 for employers). It has one of the largest campuses in the UK and it is one of the few universities to have everything on one campus which creates a good sense of community. The Student Union is also one of the biggest in the country with over 300 clubs and societies and many other facilities. I specially came from Italy for an open day and to see the university. I could really experience the friendly and professional environment and whoever I met was very welcoming. At the time, my English was not that good, and I was even received by one of the Senior Professors in the School, Prof. John Uren, who is now retired with whom I had a very good discussion in his office. After that, Leeds was not an option anymore. I had to make it, which I am glad I did.
Why did you choose this particular course?
I studied for a Technical course of Surveying, in Italy, before starting university. This was because of my passion for building design. Thanks to this course, I was sure that I wanted to continue my studies in the same field. I was initially undecided which course to choose given the variety of courses the School offers: I was keen on Civil & Structural Engineering but also wanted to continue to focus only on the building side (Architectural Engineering course). However, I was also curious to explore the Project Management route. Therefore, I decided to choose Civil & Structural as this course would have given me the flexibility to choose up to two optional modules. So, in my second year, I obviously chose intro to Project Management and Building Physics. And not only that, it also gives flexibility in the following years but with a focus on the structural side. The Integrated Design Project (IDP) is also very good module which not every university does. It builds up across the year and it brings together all the other subjects in one project. It is a challenging, yet rewarding experience and offers an invaluable learning outcome.
Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed on your course?
There are many projects that I have completed so far. The Vertical Barrier, the Raised Walkway and the Pavilion in the Design Studio in first year were such good projects where I had to work in a group of four people to come up with a creative and innovative design considering different use of materials, construction method, aesthetic quality and visual impact. In the Integrated Design Project 1, a feasibility study was carried out to put forward a project proposal to design a suitable means of storing 2 to 3.5 million cubic metres of water in North Yorkshire to be part of the supply to Leeds. In the Integrated Design Project 2, I designed two buildings: a steel frame building and a reinforced concrete frame building. They included calculations to Eurocode 2 and Eurocode 3, technical drawings such as general arrangement plans, Revit models (sections, elevations, 3D) and a design review report. It was so satisfying when handing in the project. However, the best project experience so far has been the Constructionarium. We planned and constructed a scaled down version (12m high) of the Gherkin, in London, in 4 ½ days. I was the Project Manager of the project, so it was my responsibility to make sure the work was proceeding well and according to our plans. I was doing this by leading and managing 17 other students in the team, which was the most challenging yet rewarding experience and the learning outcome was incredible.
What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?
Leeds is a great city. It thrives on the student population and it is very well-suited for any kind of student here in Leeds. There is always something going on and there are a lot of opportunities both in and out of the University. It also offers a variety of cuisines, tourist attractions, shopping centres, and much more.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My goal is to continuously improve my personal and professional development at any stage of life I get. Currently, I am looking forward to gaining some experience through my placement in the industry which is one of the most important things I have ever been waiting for. After taking the Project Management module I am sure that one day I want to be a Project Manager. But first I want to focus on the technical side and become a Chartered Engineer and then a Project Manager but more importantly a well-reputed Professional. Thanks to the experiences and the status I will gain over time it will be possible for me to help others whether it be an engineering company to make great projects happen or charity organizations to help people in need.
What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?
The University of Leeds has a lot of opportunities and you would need more than 24 hours to successfully fulfil them. During my time, I have spent a lot of time in extracurricular experiences and other networking opportunities which really helped me becoming a better person and improve my interpersonal skills which are key in the world of work. The top experience has been when I was the School Representative of the School of Civil Engineering. I was incredibly involved in many things and was invited in a lot of meetings across the University, Faculty, School and in the Union not to mention the huge opportunities I had around. Chairing the School Student Staff Forums and working closely with my School Directors and Office Managers and many other people was an incredible experience. These experiences along with many other experiences have developed key skills which will be of my advantage when starting to work and to build on these qualities, especially in the ever-demanding job market.
What would you say to students coming to do the same course?
Well done for getting a place in a very competitive School and University. An engineering degree is not an easy degree, but the opportunities are unlimited. The course will provide you all the academic knowledge and experiences that you need to become a great graduate engineer. However, I strongly recommend to anyone to be as open-minded as possible. Do not limit yourself to only try to be the best in the class. University is about learning and improving yourself. It is about becoming a better version of yourself like any other experience. But here is where risks can be taken very easily rather than in the real world. Take on opportunities and challenges to do things you never imagined you were capable of doing and you will see the real value of your time in Leeds. Mistakes and challenges are part of the University (and real) life and you can’t escape from it, but you can become stronger. Be as proactive and enthusiastic as possible with everyone you meet. You will see how friendly people are and willing to help you out. The goal is to graduate not by only becoming a very good engineer but also by becoming a better version of yourself with a unique set of qualities. Be different!