My Year in Industry as a Mechanical Engineering Student

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By Caitlin, Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

As part of my degree programme, I opted to do a placement year (or a year in industry as it is otherwise known) after my third year of my MEng course. This involved working for a company for a year during my degree instead of attending lectures as you would usually as a university student. For me, this meant working for a company called Cummins and moving up north away from Birmingham. It was a completely different experience to normal university life, but most definitely worth it.

Applying for a year in industry wasn’t the easiest, as each application involved multiple stages of assessment and interview which could take up hours of time during an already busy time in my third year. However, I found that it was something I really wanted to do so the hours given up for applications were worth it. I was able to received valuable advice from both the University Careers Network, as well as the careers team within the School of Engineering. Thankfully, this help made sure that I was able to secure a placement with Cummins.

Cummins are a company which are mostly known for making large diesel engines, but I was in the aftertreatment team, which meant that I was part of the team responsible for controlling the emissions of Cummins engines. This was particularly interesting to me, as I want to do everything I can to make transportation and other industries as sustainable as possible. I was placed within the aftertreatment team and was able to work alongside other placement students, as well as fully qualified engineers with years of experience. During my time at Cummins, I learnt how to use a variety of new software, put my engineering knowledge into practice and learnt a whole host of new things.

My year in industry was particularly useful in finding out what I enjoyed when it came to working in the real world, as compared to university life. I was able to find out what my main strengths were and work on my weaknesses with help from qualified engineers. It was also particularly interesting to get other people’s insight into the world of engineering as well as meet loads of other placement students who were at the same stage of life as me. It also gave me an excellent addition to my CV, and the ability to apply for the iMechE EngTech qualification if I wished too.

I would advise that everyone considers a year in industry, even if in the end they decide they don’t want to do one as it can be really fun, informative and gives you life experience that you would not have otherwise received from being a university student. I personally believe that my year in industry has made me a much better engineer and that I am even more competent in my studies than before I left to do a placement year. Therefore, I would say doing a placement year is definitely worth it!