Engineering at the University of Brighton

Living and studying in Brighton has exceeded anything I could have imagined

Congratulations to Bethany Croucher who was awarded the IMechE Best Student certificate at our school awards ceremony earlier this year. Bethany is in her 2nd year studying Automotive Engineering BEng(Hons) and we caught up with her to find out more about her award and life as an automotive engineering student at Brighton.

What made you choose Brighton and your course?
I was originally looking to study physics after I finished my A levels, but I took a gap year to work as a car mechanic. Whilst working there I found a passion for engineering and decided to change course from physics to engineering. I decided to choose Brighton to further my education when I first visited whilst seeing a friend who was a student at the University of Brighton. As soon as I visited, I fell in love with the city. Brighton is such a welcoming and accepting place. It is a place with something for everyone whether its skating, nightlife, the beach, music, or the diverse communities.

How did you feel when you were first accepted to Brighton, and how has the reality compared to what you imagined?
I was over the moon when I found out I was accepted to Brighton, I think it did not really sink in properly till the night before I was moving. Living and studying in Brighton has definitely exceeded anything I could have imagined. The course has covered many more topic areas than I initially realised, so I am always developing new interests within my modules. My whole experience so far has been more than anticipated and I would highly recommend both the course and the university.

Congratulations on winning an award at this year’s ceremony! Please tell us about it
The award I received was the IMechE best student certificate. The award is for the top-ranking student in any year of an IMechE accredited degree. It recognises my grades throughout the year being consistent and highly ranking.

How do you feel about winning the award?
I was very shocked and speechless when I received the email informing me, I had won the award. It was a very rewarding moment for me to see all the hard work I had been doing was recognised. I am very grateful to be supported by my personal tutor, lecturers, and family, I felt like I had made them proud.

How do you think it will help you in the future?
I am currently applying for an industrial placement before I start my final year of studying. I think this award will prove to future employers that I am hard working and will strive to achieve the best. As well as helping my future it is also a reinforcement and reminder to myself that hard work does pay off.

Would you recommend your course? What in particular would you recommend?
I would recommend my course to anyone wanting to study engineering. Engineering at Brighton has a great balance between theoretical, practical and software application. The facilities at Brighton have allowed me to gain knowledge of welding, 3D printing, simulation data analysis and so much more. My course is particularly great at being in external engineers to share their experiences and insight into real world engineering.

What have been the highlights of your course so far?
The highlight of my course so far is so difficult to choose as I have enjoyed so many different aspects. I think if I had to pick one highlight it would be the module that enabled me to work as a group to design and build a rocket car. I was able to use CAD to design the car with my group and run aerodynamic and mass analysis. The design was then 3D printed. Once everyone had built their cars the students and lecturers were able to go to Falmer to test and race the builds. This module was very interesting to design something, build it and test it. It enabled both theoretical mathematics as well as the engineering design and construction. The atmosphere at Falmer was very such positive energy and everyone had a lot of fun, I think this is a prime example of the positive staff-student working relationship that Brighton has. I am currently doing a similar module now to build a battle bot in a group which is extremely exciting and challenging.

How flexible is the course in terms of module choice / choosing to focus on things you are interested in?
Engineering Is a very structured course so all the modules are compulsory until 3rd year, all the mechanical, automotive, and aeronautical to work together until then. This allows students to switch the strain of engineering until they are at the end of their second year. I think this structure works very well and is quite unique to Brighton. It allows all engineers to learn the foundations of a variety or areas before narrowing into individual strains in the final year. The group projects within the modules are often flexible allowing the students to choose the specific topic and design of that project.

Tell us about your experience of teaching and support staff.
The teaching at Brighton is very diverse including lectures, tutorials, group work and workshops. There is always a chance to ask questions, get involved and voice your opinion.  I have met some very inspiring and supportive lecturers/tutors that have motivated me to work hard and aim high. As well as the teaching, the support network has been continuous throughout my degree for both academic and personal guidance. My personal tutor has assisted me throughout my course so far, they are always available and willing to help no matter how big or small the enquiry. I am very thankful for the teaching and support at Brighton.

Have you done or do you plan to do a placement year? What type of role did you do/do you think you would be aiming for and what do you hope to get out of the experience?
I am currently in the process of apply to placement year, I think as an engineer it is key to gain real world experiences. Future employers highly regard placement experience which will be extremely useful after graduation. I have applied to multiple automotive companies as well as various engineering companies. I am hoping to gain valuable experience out of this opportunity, to have an insight into real world engineering as well as being able to apply my knowledge that I have gained since staring my degree. This will also help me in both my final year and after graduation. I am extremely grateful for the amount of work the STEM placement team put into helping students go through the whole application process and assisting wherever they can.

How do you plan to use your course in the future?
I hope to get a job in the automotive industry where I can apply my engineering knowledge. My ideal future would enable me to utilise my design, theoretical or practical experience I have gained at university. As well as engineering skills I have also learnt and improved many transferable skills to all aspects of life such as teamwork, communication and critical thinking.

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?
I think it is a combination of the location, my course, and the amazing people I have met that makes me extremely glad I decided to come to Brighton. I wouldn’t change anything, and I feel that all those aspects have made me grow as a person.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for this course / this university?
The advice I would give to someone apply to Brighton or an engineering course would be to do it because you wont regret it. Brighton is a very special place that you will fall in love with, and the university is one of a kind. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I hope everyone can be part of.

In terms of when you start your degree make sure you work hard and stick with it. Sometimes it can be stressful no matter where you are or what you are doing but if you keep trying you will see results.

This year is obviously different for everyone, how has studying, and your student experience, changed for you and how have you adapted? What tips can you pass on?
This year has been difficult switching to online learning, I think it has been a challenge for everyone I have spoken to, but it is a learning process for everyone including the staff. The biggest change is the delivery of the course, my course has been limited to the practical work and laboratories that would usually take place at the university facilities, these modules have either been adapted to not be practical or labs delivered through video cameras online. The lectures have been switched to presenting online and the lecturers talking to us through a mic. Initially the new way of teaching was tricky but over time everyone has adapted to that way of learning. One tip I want to pass on about online learning would be to attend everything, make sure you make study notes not just sit back and watch, try to interact as much as you can and just ask for help if you need any guidance and support.

It has also affected the student experience of this year due limitation on socialising but try stay in contact with people you were close to before, everyone is in the same boat.

Stephanie Thomson • March 31, 2021

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