Group of students standing outside a lab

Experience: summer internship in Sustainable Technology & Engineering Projects lab

Majeed, one of the recent summer interns at the STEP Lab, reflects on his invaluable experience so far of the Sustainable Technology & Engineering Projects (STEP) lab.

Majeed’s intern experience

I was aware that in the engineering industry experience is essential, so when I saw the STEP Lab opportunity I had to take it. I saw the STEP Lab as my summer work and treated it as such, attending 3-5 days a week to ensure I could learn and make as much progress as possible.  

Although I did not get a traditional industrial placement, I can now look back on my time with the STEP Lab as a blessing in disguise. Now when I apply to placements this academic year, I will be a lot more equipped as I would not only have had work experience but I will have an in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of what I have done throughout the summer which will make my future interviews even better. My time with the STEP Lab will show future employers that even when I didn’t get a placement I stayed resilient and still found engineering experience.  

One of the first things that we did at a STEP Lab was sit together and get to know each other, and I ended up meeting new people, from lower years and higher years and even people that were on my course that I had never met! I find it hard to socialise, so having the STEP Lab group really helped me, and I have now cultivated some friendships with people on my course and other aspiring engineers.  

I can easily say that working with the STEP Lab has been the most challenging but enjoyable engineering work I have done at the university, as my year 2 was completely affected by COVID-19 and we were only able to do one practical unit (the robot wars group project).

Many of the projects within the STEP Lab overlap so I got my first taste of what it is like when your work and someone else’s work affect each other. An example of this is when me and another student had to collaborate as I was in charge of the mechanical commissioning of the ORC rig and he was in charge of the electrical commissioning of the ORC rig. We decided to have bi-weekly meetings to inform each other about various applications and any varying aspects of the rig. In the STEP Lab you are working with excited and like-minded engineers. 

I am the type of person that learns better with hands-on practical applications. That style was heavily used with my Diploma when I was at 6th form. Working with the STEP Lab, I saw some of the amazing projects currently happening and received amazing help and mentoring from the professors, PhD students and technicians.  

I believe that the STEP Lab has improved my engineering confidence by a great deal. Especially as I was in charge of mechanical commissioning, and I learned many new things and greatly improved engineering skills I already had. It has improved my confidence to such a degree that now I when walk around in my day-to-day life, I’m a lot more aware of what actually had to happen in various engineering applications, this summer internship with the STEP Lab has reignited my passion for being an engineer.  

Also working throughout the summer alleviates the issue of becoming lazy throughout summer. Having worked all summer long with the STEP Lab, I feel more prepared and excited for my year 3 journey than I would have if I did not join them.  

Working with the rest of the STEP Lab and helping them or learning about their various projects was also a highlight of my experience. An example of me helping another student was when another student was dealing with the mechanical arrangements for his rig. I would periodically help him as that was an avenue that the STEP Lab has taught me well enough until I was then able to assist a fellow student with his project.

Another amazing benefit of working with the STEP Lab is the student driven community. Working with first year students, students graduating from Bachelors and Masters courses, students in the same year as me, students going into masters and international students. This environment showed me the importance of networking, as all of these students including myself are to be future engineers. And it also demonstrates the positive effect that a community like environment can have on young people.

All in all, the STEP Lab has been an amazing experience, through all the things I have learned and all the people I have met. I can say with confidence that I would love to have this opportunity again and I will definitely be suggesting it to any new students I encounter that want more from their engineering experience at the University of Brighton.  

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