Graduate stories – Waleed Alsaadi
Waleed Alsaadi, who just graduated from the Civil Engineering MEng, won the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) award for the producing an outstanding overall performance in the Civil Engineering degree programmes with a focus on structural engineering.
- How did you feel when you were first accepted to Brighton, and how has the reality compared to what you imagined?
I was very happy to have been accepted into my first choice university. For me the reality was very close to what I had imagined as I had attended several open days and got a good feel for it.
- What were the highlights of your course?
For me I would say writing the dissertation and my placement year. The dissertation was one module which allowed me to explore a topic to such a deep level and challenge myself to learn and explore more. My placement year was another highlight because it was a great chance for me to get into the industry and gain some valuable experience. The networking, training and on-the-job learning was an invaluable thing for me.
- Would you recommend your course? What in particular would you recommend?
I would definitely recommend the course to others. In particular I would recommend doing a placement year taking the MEng route. The masters year allows you to put more of a focus on your degree and specialise in a specific field of Civil Engineering as well as gaining you a higher level of accreditation with the ICE which will make obtaining chartered status a lot easier.
- What has coming to Brighton done for you, both as a student and as a person?
Coming to uni here has allowed me to meet people from all around the country who haven’t experienced a city like this before. Many people fall in love with the city and even stay here after graduating. Brighton has a very distinct character and that’s what people fall in love with.
- Tell us about your experience of teaching and support staff.
The teaching staff have been very good at responding to feedback. they have a good ability to adapt and change teaching styles to suit students’ needs.
- Can you tell us a bit about your role on your placement?
My placement was split into two 6-month placements. During the first placement I was part of the structural engineers’ team which meant I was working exclusively on the buildings on the naval base. My tasks ranged from designing remedial solutions for historical building repairs to conducting rapid structural investigations. With the Civil engineers’ team, the work I did started to vary more due to the nature of the naval base. This included integrity testing of mooring systems and designing new bridge decks and gangways. I was also project manager on a project worth over half a million pounds and very short timescales. Overall, I was given a lot of responsibility which allowed me to learn a lot more than If I would not have been given the chance to take on more challenging tasks.
- What aspects did you find the most interesting and the most challenging?
The most interesting part for me was seeing something that I had worked on using the things I had learned from uni actually be constructed and implemented on site. It was very rewarding to know that the things I had learned in uni were actually Integral to the project and were the main factor in the completion of the project. the most challenging thing for me was standing behind my drawings, designs and calculations In meetings with other employees who have more experience and are older than me. During placement I was very young and so It Is easy to feel like you can’t tell people what to do or how to do It, especially when they are older than you or have more experience. I very quickly gained the confidence in myself and understood that the role I was in allowed me to give Instructions and directions to others.
- How did you put what you learned in lectures into practice during your placement?
My first project required me to draw bending moment diagrams and shear force diagrams to calculate the amount of force a temporary wall could take. Very quickly you become familiar with what level of knowledge is expected in industry. Fortunately at Brighton university what we learn is exactly how it should be done in industry, so I did not have any difficulty transferring across. There are of course some things that you may not have encountered before and with these I would say studying and going through two years of uni already is what prepared me for this. being able to research things and find solutions to problems as well as learning new skills is something I gained from uni.
- What are the main things you will take from the experience?
Having a greater sense of independence and confidence In my abilities. throughout education I have always received feedback from work which I have done but I have never known how good it was in terms of real life. uni has really allowed me to know that I can work to a high level and has given me the tools to take my career to even further places.
- How do you plan to use your experience and course in the future?
The course offers very specialised modules in the masters year. This has come to my aid in my job interview as the work I will be doing once I graduate is directly related to two of the modules I selected.
- Can you give an example of a person, a lesson or something that happened that made you glad you’d come to study at Brighton?
As a course rep I have attended board meetings in which course reps will feed back to the course leaders with the objective of improving the course and how it is run. Throughout my experience big changes have been made as a direct result of our feedback. In most cases the changes have not affected me but the younger students, but this still shows that the course leaders are actively trying to support the students however they can.
- What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for this course / this university?
My advice for students is to not just take what you’re given. From my experience, the more I put in the more I got out. Put yourself out there, join sports clubs, join societies, go for a few drinks with your friends, meet people outside your course, push yourself to get the highest grade you possibly can. In regard to this course specifically I would say to get acquainted with the lecturers and build a good rapport. Keep in contact and ask questions even if they are silly. The teaching staff are very open and helpful people so don’t be afraid to ask.
At the end and you will look back and see all the things that you did not all the things that you didn’t do. So, make the most out of it and enjoy.