University of Brighton Alumni Association

Mario Vattakunnel

Combination of degree and societies shaped both my university experience and me

Aeronautical Engineering graduate Mario Vattakunnel shares how his time at the University of Brighton directly impacted his career and the person he is today.

Mario is the perfect example of how to make the most of every available opportunity whilst studying at the University of Brighton.

He tells us how his course helped him get where he is today working for Airbus, through a blend of theory and practical, with an internship during his degree.

Mario also shares how university societies and his role as a course representative contributed to who he is today, especially now in his role as a STEM ambassador inspiring the next generation and championing the benefits of mentorship.

Why did I choose the University of Brighton?

“My journey to the University of Brighton was guided by a burning passion for aerospace from a young age living in Rome, Italy. This institution, with its academic excellence and practical opportunities, seemed like the ideal place to nurture that passion and lay the foundation for a successful career. The university immediately caught my attention for a number of reasons.

“One being its vibrant academic community and that the university was known for its dynamic atmosphere, where students from all around the world come together to learn, grow, and share their diverse experiences. It was clear to me that this environment would provide an enriching backdrop for my education. Brighton itself was a city full of life and colour – a place where creativity and innovation flourish, mirroring my own aspirations. The city’s energy and welcoming atmosphere made it a perfect setting for my academic journey.

“The course at the University of Brighton offered a perfect blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. I knew that to excel in the aerospace industry, I needed a well-rounded education, and this course promised just that. One of the most exciting aspects was the opportunity to have a one-year internship in the aerospace field. This was invaluable to me because it meant I would not only be learning in the classroom but also gaining real-world experience, which is essential in the aerospace industry.”

Experience whilst studying at Brighton and how it has helped my career

“The combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience was the cornerstone of my education at Brighton. This dual approach was crucial for understanding the aerospace industry comprehensively. It allowed me to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application, equipping me with the skills needed to excel in this field.

“The professors and instructors were exceptional and not only experts but also passionate about what they taught. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and it motivated me to push my boundaries and excel academically. Their open-door policy meant I could seek guidance, ask questions, and engage in discussions whenever needed.

“The hands-on experience through laboratory work and projects was invaluable. It was during these moments that I truly felt the concepts coming to life.

“Engaging with peers from various backgrounds brought in a global perspective and taught me the importance of collaboration and adaptability in an interconnected world. It was an essential aspect of my education, preparing me for the international nature of the aerospace industry and the experiences and lessons from Brighton continue to shape my career and life. This exposure to different cultures and ideas has been immensely valuable in my current role, where I collaborate with colleagues from around the world.”

How societies shaped my university experience and me as an individual

“My journey at the University of Brighton was not limited to academic pursuits alone. I was actively involved in extracurricular activities and clubs. During my first year, I joined the university volleyball team, which had been a passion of mine since I was young and had been part of a competitive team back in Italy.

“In my second year, I became a member of the Hip-hop dance club, known as Brighton Panthers Dance. Dancing had always held a special place in my heart, and being a part of this club allowed me to not only pursue my passion but also connect with like-minded individuals who shared a love for dance.

“I also founded and served as president of the Bollywood Dance Society, aptly named BDance. It quickly became a platform for me to not only express my passion for dance but also share my culture and heritage with others. It gave me the opportunity to represent my university in various competitions and I’m proud to say that we achieved notable success, including winning the “Best Male Dancer Award” at the Just Bollywood competition in 2018.

“These extracurricular activities and clubs were more than just hobbies; they were avenues for personal growth and self-expression. They allowed me to develop leadership skills, collaborate with diverse groups of people, and foster a sense of belonging within the university community. Moreover, they taught me the importance of time management, discipline, and the power of pursuing one’s passions.

“This not only enhanced my university experience but also played a significant role in shaping the well-rounded individual I am today.”

Other positive memories and stand-out moments

“I treasure the lifelong friendships I formed during my university years, including meeting one of my closest friends, where our bond was forged through shared experiences, late-night study sessions. These friendships are a testament to the sense of community and camaraderie that the University of Brighton fosters, reminding me that the connections we make during our educational pursuits can be as valuable as the knowledge we gain.

“Another defining aspect of my university experience was my role as a course representative. This role was instrumental in building employability skills and attributes. My peers entrusted me with the responsibility of representing their concerns and feedback, which strengthened my leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. It taught me the importance of actively engaging with like-minded communities and being a voice for change.

“This experience not only showcased my ability to lead and deliver results but also solidified my understanding of the importance of trust and collaboration in a professional setting.”

My role with Airbus and STEM ambassador

“My journey with Airbus began during my internship as an Airbus Operating System Intern in 2019 through my degree at Brighton. During this invaluable experience, I delved into the world of aerospace manufacturing and learned the intricacies of producing wings for commercial aircrafts. This exposure not only enhanced my technical knowledge but also honed various skills, including public speaking, time management, project management, and leadership skills.

“This internship inspired me and as a result, I eagerly pursued a graduate scheme opportunity with Airbus as Plant Industrialization and Business Management graduate, which is a highly competitive process, but I’m delighted to say I got the job. I was able to draw on my firsthand experience from the internship and the insight I gained into the workings of the company undoubtedly strengthened my application.

“The graduate scheme allows me to work in different departments and this diversity has exposed me to various aspects of Airbus, including production processes, project management, quality control, supply chain operations, public affairs, and plant safety.

“I also take great pride in my role as a STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and Airbus Ambassador, which provides me with a platform to inspire the younger generation to choose STEM as their educational pathway. It’s an opportunity to share my own experiences and passion for aerospace, encouraging others to embark on this exciting journey – allowing me to give back to the community and inspire the future leaders and innovators in the field.

“I look forward to the final phase of my graduate scheme, where I’ll take on a leadership role and further shape the company’s success. My path is guided by a deep commitment to the aerospace industry and my passion for inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.”

Wisdom for current students and things I wish I knew before graduating

“Make the most of the diverse opportunities available at Brighton. Engage not only in your academic studies but also in extracurricular activities, clubs, and leadership roles. These experiences beyond the classroom are equally valuable, offering a well-rounded development that can shape your future career. Learning to balance academics, extracurricular activities, and personal time is a skill that serves you well not only in university but also in your future career.

“Build relationships with your peers, professors, and professionals in your field of interest. These connections can open doors to opportunities and collaborations that can significantly impact your career journey. Sometimes, the path to success may seem daunting, but remember that every obstacle is an opportunity for growth. Your journey might not always be easy, but every experience will shape you – use these moments as opportunities to learn, evolve, and emerge stronger.

“Embrace the value of mentorship. Seeking out mentors can provide invaluable guidance. I wish I had actively sought mentors who could have provided insights and advice specific to my field of study and career aspirations. Mentorship is a powerful tool for personal and professional development

“Dare to dream big – with dedication, perseverance, and a positive attitude, you can accomplish more than you ever imagined. Your time at the University of Brighton is a crucial part of your journey, but it’s just the beginning of a path full of possibilities.”

Alumnibrighton effectgraduateUniversity of Brighton

Alex Petrovic • March 7, 2024

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