Amy Black, an undergraduate level student on the Civil and Environmental Engineering BEng in the School of Civil Engineering,

Amy Black

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

Leeds University has a good reputation and I know a number of people who have studied here and really enjoyed it; so it was always on my radar as a university I should consider. And then when I was looking at the university league tables, Leeds was one of the top rated for Engineering, so I decided to attend the open day to find out more. When I visited, the university had a great vibe and there was a real a buzz about the place. Everyone I met was very friendly and so it felt very welcoming. I spoke to a number of lecturers and students who were all very enthusiastic and passionate about both the university and the course which was really positive. There also appeared to be a lot of additional support in Leeds which I hadn't seen in other universities such as the separate Employability team for the Engineering department. Leeds was also one of the few universities to offer an option to study Civil and Environmental Engineering which was really what I wanted to do. So, Leeds was the only university that ticked all of my boxes, the final one being that it is also not that far from home!

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University and why?

I love the diversity of the modules on my course as this keeps my interest and motivation high. Obviously there are certain modules I prefer, but all in all I enjoy them all. Listening to friends who study other subjects, it doesn't appear that they have such a rich curriculum as I do and this is one of the main reasons I enjoy doing Civil Engineering so much.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far?

The projects we worked on in my first year were largely team based which was good, as within those small teams we got to know each other’s strengths (and weaknesses) which helped us to deliver the different elements of the projects. One project I particularly enjoyed was an environment based project for which we had to assess the sustainability of a development proposal for a car park and office building near the university. Within the team, we assessed and evaluated the various impacts of the proposal and then identified mitigating measures to adapt the project in order to maximise its contribution to sustainable development. It was a very interesting and rewarding project.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Leeds is a city that thrives on the student population and it therefore caters very well for us. There is always so much going on, either in the university or outside of it. This means that socially Leeds is great and there are lots of opportunities for you to throw yourself into and therefore it is easy to make new friends. Being a young female in the city, I have also always been mindful of my safety and I have to say in the year that I have been here, I have always felt safe.

What are your ambitions for the future?

In the short term, I want to gain some work experience in the next year or so - whether that be through an industrial placement or a summer internship. I would ideally like this to be in a company that has a large awareness of sustainability due to my interest on the environmental aspect of Engineering. After graduating I would like to secure a graduate job in a Civil Engineering company and gain the appropriate experience to become a Chartered Engineer. I have recently become a STEM ambassador and am also looking forward to encouraging young girls to explore their ability in STEM subjects and consider career opportunities in these areas - such as Engineering.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

In my first year at university, there have been a number of group-based modules, so learning to work as part of a team has been really important. As leader of the team, learning to truly rely on other people and trust them to do what they need to do, has been difficult and stressful at times! Studying a course which has so many teaching hours has meant I have had to be very disciplined and organised in how I spend my time away from the university - balancing the need to complete assignments to a good standard as well as on time and juggling this with the student life. Living away from home, I have also learnt to be independent and I can now actually cook some decent meals!

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Engineering is a degree that is definitely not easy, it is a lot of hard work and takes up a lot of your time so you need to be prepared for that. However, when you get good results, it is really rewarding as you know your effort has been very worthwhile and you get a great sense of satisfaction. My mum always says "you get out of something what you put into it" and I think this is definitely the case when doing a degree in Engineering. Knowing that I have passed my first year has given me confidence in my ability and I want to do even better next year. I know that as a qualification, an Engineering degree is very respected - and I now truly do understand why!