Joseph Souter shares how his passion for electronics led him to study an HND in Engineering Systems. Considering his next steps, Joseph visited RGU’s Open Day and Applicants’ Day to find out more. After seeing the engineering facilities and speaking to the School of Engineering staff, Joseph’s mind was made up, and his new chapter at RGU to study MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering began.
Why did you decide to study MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering at RGU?
I was always interested in electronics and was lucky enough to be able to study engineering science at school. I’d started playing around with a few hobby electronics projects (small wind turbines) and had a great engineering teacher who was also an electronics engineer who was very encouraging. I left school after fifth year to do an HND in engineering systems, which was a great experience. One of my lecturers suggested I study further and go to university. I went to several Open Days and was really impressed with RGU’s engineering facilities. At an Applicants’ Day at RGU, I was able to speak to the course leader, who was very encouraging and explained all aspects of the course, and what it would be like transitioning from college – this really sealed the deal for me.
What excites you about engineering?
Engineering is extremely creative, and it’s ultimately a way of using creativity to solve real-world problems, which I find very exciting. Engineering is as much of an art as a science. With engineering, every problem becomes an opportunity to start inventing new solutions, so it is never dull and constantly changing. When you see a really cleverly engineered, but simple solution to a problem, it is a beautiful thing.
Can you tell us more about your experience on the course?
Overall, I’ve had a great experience on this course. I joined in second year from college which was not the most common way in, but immediately felt well supported by my lecturers. Something which I’ve really enjoyed about the course is the ability to tailor what you study to your interests. Particularly from third year onwards, there’s the opportunity to specialise in either the electronics and signal processing type subjects, or the power and energy type subjects. I really enjoyed my MEng individual project; I designed an inspection robot for water utility pipes, and I was able to take my design all the way from a basic concept and some equations to a functioning 3D printed prototype, which was absolutely fascinating. I had fantastic support from my supervisor which was a huge help. It really prepared me for working as an engineer in industry, where I had to rely on what I’d learned and put it into practice.
Have you completed a placement? If so, where and what was your role, and what did you enjoy most about it?
I’ve completed two placements as part of the fast-track MEng. My first placement was in my third-year summer and the second in my fourth-year summer. Both placements were with Nautronix, a branch of the Norwegian engineering company Imenco, specialising in underwater acoustic communications and navigation technology with an office in Aberdeen. I was working as a systems engineer, which meant working on many different aspects of projects, including some software design, electronics design (PCBs and analogue design), test engineering, and assisting with research and development. I learned so much on placement and it really helped to put the theory which I’d been taught over the years into practice. It also taught me about the interpersonal side of engineering and that it’s not all about technical skills, but that communication skills and being able to negotiate and work as part of a team are also critical.
Have you got any advice to prospective students who are considering studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering?
I think it really helps if you think of an application for what you’re learning. Try to pick up a hobby electronics project with something like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi that you’re interested in and that you enjoy working on. Even starting with a basic project like a line-follower robot really helps to reinforce what you’re learning by giving you a practical application for the theory. I started an Arduino weather station project before third year, and it really helped me put what we were learning in terms of firmware development into context. If you’re passionate about what you’re learning and can apply it to something in a fun way, it will really help when things get challenging! Also, don’t be put off by having to study maths, the maths lecturers are fantastic and make sure nobody is left behind. They also teach maths in a way which really applies to engineering, which makes it much easier to learn than in school for example. Overall, go for it, it’s an excellent course, and electronic engineers are in high demand now and will be in the future so it will prepare you for a very exciting career.