Portrait of Jessica Ferrington, an Aviation Technology student at the University of Leeds

Jessica Ferrington

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

My career aspiration was to become a pilot, therefore I looked at universities offering studies related to this goal. From online research, I thought the modules on offer were well-suited to what I wanted to learn and had great variety. When I visited Leeds on an open day, I instantly clicked with what the course offered and it stood out to me as completely different to any other degree with a similar title. I knew it was the place for me, so much so that I resat my A-levels to get onto the programme!

What have been the best aspects of studying on your course and why?

The best aspect of this course is working with a small group of like-minded people who you get to know so well over the university experience. There is a unique opportunity to form strong friendships with everyone in the cohort, which I am sure will last well beyond university. The course itself offers a wide variety of topics, giving you a broad knowledge of the aviation industry.

The highlight of this course was the 10 hours of flight training offered and then going on to complete my PPL in the summer alongside other members of my course. Being able to learn to fly an aircraft, go solo and obtain my PPL – while hearing my friends on the radio – was an unforgettable experience!

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

In first year, your tutor group complete a team project together. You are assigned an aircraft as a group and divide up different parts of the aircraft. My team was given the Lancaster bomber and I specifically looked at the undercarriage. As well as research, work on the X-Plane simulators was carried out. We had to produce a team report and complete a presentation.

In third year, you complete your dissertation project but also have an individual poster presentation and written report on a set case study. I chose to look at how the third runway at Heathrow would affect the target of carbon-neutral growth at the airport. It was enjoyable to research a topic of my choice and share what I had found with my cohort.  

What does the city of Leeds have to offer students?

The city itself has plenty to offer, from bars and restaurants to shops and activities. There are cinemas, mini golf courses, bowling alleys etc. Millennium square is close to campus and hosts fairground rides, Christmas markets, an ice rink and multiple other events throughout the year.

Leeds has a good reputation for being a great place for students with plenty of clubs and nights out, pub quizzes, and has a variety of coffee shops too. There are also museums, the Leeds and Liverpool canal and other areas nearby to explore. Leeds city has a great student atmosphere, just give it a quick google and you will see how much there is on offer!

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

Ultimately every experience has helped me develop and learn how to deal with a variety of situations. The experiences that I believe will help me in my future career the most include attending student-staff forums, being L3 course representative, being Aviation Society president, and all the other extra activities I have participated in at university.

These experiences have allowed me to enhance my transferrable skills, which I believe are important in any career. The broad background knowledge I have learnt about the aviation industry as well as the skills I have learnt will help me adapt quickly to any role within aviation.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time at university?

I have learnt so much at my time at Leeds but one thing I have come to appreciate is the phrase “you get out what you put in”. This goes for both academic and non-academic activities at university and for all aspects of life. I have learnt so much from taking opportunities that are abundant at the University of Leeds and within aviation!

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

Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. From attending events and presentations (regularly organised by lecturers and the aviation society), to pushing yourself to take on roles of responsibility, and volunteering your time for open days or to help other students. The more you volunteer for, the greater sense of community you have.

Making sure you balance your university work with a good social life is important and I have found that engaging in extra activities has helped me become much more productive with university work – a win-win! Make your time at university count and gain as much experience as you can to prepare you for your next steps!

Read more student and alumni profiles here.

Students in a flight simulator