Electronic and Electrical Engineering Student Profiles
Francesco Forte: MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Placement Year: 2013/14
Company Name: Broadcom Europe Ltd
Salary Paid: £18,500
Job Title: NFC IC Designer
I am an Italian student who started University later than usual due to financial problems, but never abandoned the idea. A few years ago, during the financial crisis of 2008, I was left unemployed: in that moment I decided to move abroad and try and improve my skills and finally obtain a degree.
I have chosen Brunel University because of their pioneer use of courses with professional development or placement years, which allowed them to establish strong connections with major industries in all the relevant sectors in which their degree can be used, and in particular engineering. Having worked as a technician already, I valued these kind of connections as fundamental in increasing my job prospects once I finished my degree.
I spent the first months of my second year applying to many companies, but I kept receiving negative answers after the interview or assessment centre stage or no answer at all.
I therefore made full use of the excellent Placement and Career Centre available on campus, by receiving advice on how to improve my CV and doing mock interviews: I realised the importance of paying attention to the job requirements and adapting the CV to highlight skills relevant to the position, or applying the STAR approach when answering interviews’ questions.
I have also realised the crucial importance of applying early for a position, even if the deadline is months ahead: many companies choose the first candidates that they see as suitable and discard or reserve for future positions any other candidates, although they will rarely admit it.
Despite my attempts, by April 2013 I did not have any placement secured yet, and I was about to decide on my third year project, when I started receiving multiple requests for interviews (from a set of 25 and more applications I did during the Easter holiday), and one of them was from Broadcom, which I received with joy.
Broadcom Corporation is a Fortune 500 company founded in 1991, among the top five semiconductor companies worldwide and leader in innovation due to its focus on research with over 11,800 pending patents, thanks also to its largely engineer focused work force (about 70%).
At the current date, and according to Broadcom surveys, about 98% of all Internet data traffic goes through at least one Broadcom device or IP.
My first interview with Broadcom was in the Manchester office, where the position was revealed to be closer to a verification engineer, detail on which I was not too sure: during the interview, the examiners liked my performance and understood my preference for designing RTL, so after a few weeks I received an alternative position as NFC IC designer in the Swindon office.
During the first two weeks of my placement I was introduced to the project area and started understanding the basics of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. I also dedicated time, among other things, to understanding the company structure, the working environment and access to the building, and UNIX commands to perform the basic operations required.
Soon after the third week, I was assigned to a verification activity for specific tests on the chip by running hardware emulations on customised FPGA boards. This covered three months of my placement and involved use of tools such as oscilloscopes, signal analyser, protocol sniffers, as well as schematic analysis to identify the correct pins to connect. Moreover, debugging of tcl code or RTL coding was often necessary, along with the use of spreadsheets to illustrate the results along many different stage versions of the same chip.
Alongside the work, I established good relationships with most of the colleagues in the office, and I was invited, from the very first week, to join them in playing Badminton once a week or going to the pub on Friday. Likewise, I have also attended an office annual event on my third week, which allowed me to familiarise more with my colleagues outside the office.
I have made friends with the others placements students present in the office, and often went out with them to the cinema or for a night out.
Towards the third month, I started diversifying my activities and moved on to RTL coding through the application of Engineering Change Order (ECO), used to fix know bugs or enhance performances in the design.
Between September and October 2013, I attended two professional verification courses on UVM and SystemVerilog, knowledge learnt on these I later used to apply to a new project on which I was asked to work as main RTL designer: it involved the implementation of a PHY Build In Self-Test (BIST) to verify the behaviour of the analog interface by means of digital devices.
This required me to greatly extend my knowledge on Verilog and the application of System Verilog, while using a large variety of tools such as Verdi (for visualisation of the code simulations in both RTL and gate level), QuestaSim (also for verification, but with selectable signals for much faster simulation), dc_shell and spyglass (for LINT verification).
It provided me with the opportunity to design a block from specifics to implementation and verification through the construction of test benches, according to the standard flow for design.
Moreover, as a side effect, it forced me to improve my performance in writing code, hence the necessity to learn using more effective text editor such as GVIM: after obtaining a certain degree of confidence, it allowed me to save time by using macros to generate repeated code.
While implementing the code, I contributed to update and expand the specifics to meet the desired results, while successfully integrating the new block with the rest of the design: the progresses of the implementation and verification have been reported on a weekly basis and following a schedule established at the beginning of the design.
Working here, I have finally realised similarities between the group projects during my course and my activities at work: sometimes it is necessary to rely on someone else’s work to continue yours, hence the importance of motivating them to proceed with their activities or reporting the problem to your supervisor if the first fail.
Recently I have attended another, 5-days, SystemVerilog course, in order to reinforce the concepts acquired and further apply them in the production of higher level testbenches and use of assertions to evaluate the functionality of the design. Considering that placement students do not usually receive these kinds of training courses, I believe myself lucky to have attended three of them already.
My placement is not finished yet, but I have learned so much already: I would advise anyone to consider the opportunity of a placement as a good starting point to gain exposure to the business world, which provides you with experience and professional contacts, rather than just a degree.
Khalid Enayat: BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering with Professional Development
Placement Year: 2012/2013
Company Name: Brunel Innovation Centre (BIC)
Salary Paid: Yes
Job Title: Project Technical Assistant
I am studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering with professional development. I have completed a 1 year placement and am returning to continue the third year of my degree.
One of the reasons I decided to study at Brunel University was that it provides a Sandwich degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. This allowed me to do a 1-year professional placement after the second year of my degree. The reason why it is called a Sandwich degree is that you have an option to complete a placement year and once you meet all the university requirements, you will be awarded a degree with professional development. You may have the opportunity to do a placement in most universities, however, here at Brunel students are given the relevant training and support by the lecturers and the Placement and Career Centre (PCC). Brunel PCC has dedicated staff that will support you in every step of the application process including building your CV, writing a covering letter, offering guidance on how to fill in application forms, and providing mock interviews in order to help you secure a placement.
Unlike some of the applicants, at first I did not secure a placement after multiple interviews. However, this encouraged me to reflect on my performance and improve on my application and interview skills, and with the help of PCC I was able to secure a placement at a company called Brunel Innovation Centre (BIC) located at TWI Cambridge.
BIC is a research company, which provides an excellent research facility by carrying out outstanding research in the field of Non Destructive Testing (NDT), Condition Monitoring and structural health to aid both UK and European based projects. BIC attracts projects from various R&D areas including Power generation, Sensors, Electronics Design, and Wireless communication.
Throughout the placement at BIC as a Project Technical Assistant, I was mainly involved in three projects. As a Project Technical Assistant I was responsible for carrying out marketing research and Hardware and Software design and implementation. One of the projects I worked on was to design a system which detects defects on high power transmission lines. During this project, I designed the firmware using C programming language for the system that acquires from transducers established wireless communication, and also designed a PC application using Matlab to trigger the acquisition wirelessly, and present data for analysis.
The placement year has equipped me with tonnes of experience. I have gained both competency and technical based skills, which I might not have had the chance if I did not do a placement. PersonallyI would like to encourage all the Level 2 students to go through the application process, even if they do not intend to apply for a placement. I believe that the application process on its own is a big part of the whole experience, as you will be invited to interviews and Assessment Centres at some of the leading companies in the market, based on your CV and covering letter, giving you a taste of the job application process and you never know you might be offered a placement, which may change your mind.
Romell Dawkins studying MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Placement year: 2012/13
Company Name: Chromalox
Salary Paid: Yes
Job Title : Student Electrical Engineer, Sales and Design department
I secured a placement with Chromalox, an oil and gas company, by applying through Brunel’s Placement and Careers Centre placement portal, and they helped me substantially with revamping my CV.
My specific role consisted of both the selling and designing of heater control panels. If the customer required a bespoke control panel to control the output of the heater to heat up a process i.e. propylene, it was my duty to make a brief design using single line diagrams, then provide a quotation using a costing tool. Upon the sale a detailed design would then be made, other duties consisted of technical support and providing training.
Initially, I thought the placement was going to be a very tough challenge where I would be thrown in the deep end. Being quite nervous as a person I had the impression that it would be much more difficult than expected, but upon experiencing the placement I found the company offered a very supportive environment, that also developed me as a person. Initially, I had little responsibility, as I had a long hand over from the previous placement student and the manager in charge of control panels. However, within two months they both left. This required me to seek training from other staff members so that I could ensure that I could fulfil my job role independently, and with minimum help. During the placement, I was looked after by the HR department, who ensured that every few months they checked up on me to see how I was progressing.
Throughout my placement I had to make plans and goals which were made by myself and my manager, I also received two visits from my placement academic tutor.
I did enjoy the placement it made me see real engineering for myself, which gave me a better and broader perspective.
There were also perks !! I was as offered weekly French lessons, a paid trip to the manufacturing plant in the North of France, Soissons and discount at the local gym.
At the end no official job offer was made, but they did say they would like to see me working back at the company in due course.
In sum, I thought the placement was valuable to me for the sole reason it helped me gain experience in the real engineering world, and develop my interpersonal skills, being at university in academic studies, does not give you that opportunity. It has also allowed me to decide what field of engineering that I enjoyed.
Amidou Ndakuna Fonso , Graduated 2012, First Class Honours in BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
IET PRIZE winner in Brunel 2012 (Best Student in my subject area)
I applied to Brunel University, after my “A” levels and higher Diploma in Computer Networking level 1 and 2. I did a long investigation/search into an engineering course that could really challenge my intellectual ability, hence, enabling me to use my imagination and creativity. Going through many Higher Education studies’ statistics/information, I was easily convinced Brunel University has one of the best engineering departments in the UK. Brunel University came as a package : A central location, very close to central London and one of the busiest airports in Europe (Heathrow), one of the best students’ accommodation in the UK, one of the best student- to -staff ratio, and state of the art teaching facilities that was constantly being improved every single day.
I embarked on a full sandwich course (4 years), BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Brunel in 2008 starting at level one. Level 1 included many modules (fundamentals of the engineering discipline, with emphasis on Mathematics and computer programming languages) and was also structured to help students’ module choices most suited to them at level two. The choices of modules at Level 2 and 3 were more tailored to specific degrees, and my module choice at these stages meant a possible career in the telecom industry.
Between Level 2 and 3 there was an optional placement year. I had developed so much love for communications and signals, and was only interested in a placement in the telecom field, which restricted my choice of placement. Brunel has a fantastic Placement and Career Office, run by highly qualified professionals with several years’ experience in helping graduates and students secure placements and graduates jobs with national and multi-national companies. I started applying for placement quite early, but was unable secure the specific type of placement I wanted. However, while on holidays in Africa (summer holidays), I got a call from one of the Brunel Career Advisers to say there was a placement opportunity with Motorola Solutions. They went beyond the call of duty, but were also motivated by the fact that they knew my passion for the communications, as I had registered my interest with them.
I worked for Motorola as a System Engineer, specifically on the United Nations account for 12 months. As the first student engineer employed in this Department, there wasn’t a very clear job description, which I quickly turned to count in my favour. I had all the doors of the best telecom company in Mission Critical Radio Communication Systems in the world opened to me. My team was the sole supplier and designer of telecom equipment for UN missions in Africa and Middle East. Initially, I was tasked with designing an antenna template for the team, which I did in half the time allocated to me and midway through my placement, I was already running multiple projects for the team. My altitudes towards work translated into a drastic increase in responsibilities within months. My biggest achievement was being a System Engineer on a UN mission communication system project in the Middle East, an 11 million pounds project (with the supervision of my manager). I made decisions on: the technologies to be implemented and compatibility, features supported by technology, base stations and switches content and building an itemised list, from which the system is built physically in the factory in Berlin, before being shipped to customer’s location (usually Middle East or Africa). Working for Motorola and the UN also meant overseas travel, and a rich exposure from doing business on an international stage, which was a priceless experience for any undergraduate student, hence, travelling on business and lodging in a five stars hotels are two of a long list of benefits. In addition to this, I also gained a lot of confidence on how to conduct myself in a profession environment.
At the end of my placement, I had a verbal job offer from Motorola, to come back after my final year and continue doing the same job on a full time basis.
Back at university for final year, I did a project on “Artificial Bandwidth Extension of Telephony speech”. This involved: developing an artificial bandwidth extension method for telephony speech based on Linear Prediction Model and Harmonistic plus noise model. Main aim to make an improvement to the perceived quality of current band limited telephony speech (300Hz to 3400Hz) to about 8KHz.I realised this by developing and modelling algorithms in matlab software platform.
I graduated from Brunel University in July 2012 with a first class honours degree and a Brunel 2012 IET Prize winner, as the best student in my subject area. At this stage, I had another job offer from Vodafone UK. Critically analysing the two offers, Vodafone offered an irresistible scheme that will see me work on their Network, IT and Service Operations departments plus international experience in India and Portugal. In 18 months I will have more exposure to Vodafone business areas than some staff who have been working for Vodafone for about 10 years.
In summary, it’s true I worked very hard during my degree at Brunel University. However, it was a combination of this and what the University offered: Great teaching and learning facilities, 24/7 opening hours for the labs, and constantly improving infrastructure, excellent Placement and Career Service, open door policy operated by all teaching staff, mentoring programme on which I was paired to work with a highly experienced engineer in the industry for over 6 months, having a dedicated lecturer who visited me and monitor my progress while I was in the industry, having a dedicated lecturer who acted as my mentor/coach/first point of contact for my course duration( 4 years), Brunel University well established link with many industries. After spending 4 years with almost the same group of people, Brunel is like a second family to me.
Today, I’m very proud to talk about Brunel University in any discussion and I will recommend it to any prospective student looking to get the best out of their money spent at university. Brunel gives you all you need to succeed at the highest level in Engineering.
Rishane Pereira: Final year, Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Placement Year: 2011/2012
Company Name: ARM
Job Title: Industrial Placement
Salary Paid: £16 000
I had originally signed up for a three year BEng and had not even considered doing a placement. I wanted to finish my degree and start full time employment as soon as possible. Purely from a financial perspective this made more sense to me, as I didn’t want to pay an extra £3000 while not in University, and I would earn more in a graduate role in 2012 than at an Internship in 2011. However after attending a careers talk given by Mike Grey, Raj Sidhu and Dr Ian Dear; my viewpoint changed. In the current economic climate, many companies are making cutbacks and new graduates without any experience are affected the most. This means we’ll be competing with graduates from universities like Imperial, Cambridge, Oxford etc…for the same jobs. So a good Internship could prove to be an important differentiating factor. Companies know that it would be easier to train graduate employees with relevant work experience, and it would be easier to integrate them with existing project teams. In addition the transferable skills you would learn from the placement will help you to plan your Final year project as well as assignments and revision in third year.
Finding a placement shouldn’t be too difficult as most companies have some sort of internship open to undergraduate students. Companies offer these sorts of work placements as it provides them with skilled engineers to contribute to projects within the company, as well providing them with an opportunity to assess students, and decide if they would be suitable for permanent employment within the company.
I started my work placement with ARM Ltd in Sheffield. ARM provides IP and integration tools to many EDA partners with regards to Processor and SOC designs. Although the majority of CPU’s and GPU’s are designed in Cambridge or Texas, the Sheffield office is responsible for designing interconnects and fabric that connects the CPU’s and GPU’s within the SOC.
During the first couple of weeks I spent at the company, my manger gave me the task of working on an extension of a level 2 University project I did with Dr Ian Dear. This allowed to me settle into the task ahead by building up on something already familiar to me. In the months that followed I was given many different tasks and soon I was doing the same job as any Graduate engineer working within the company. Some companies will put you on a placement programme where you would be doing work external to a project while others will put you in the deep en, and you’ll be working on an existing project from day one. They both have their advantages as a placement programme will allow you to gain a better understanding of the company as a whole, while working with an existing project team will provide you with a specialised set of skills making you comparable to an engineer already working within the company.
Working at ARM provides with you many extra benefits. There is a very generous stock option (which has been very useful in the last 5 years as ARM share prices have increased by 300%), use of the company gym as well health insurance for the entire family. The project manager and my supervisor both said they would love to have me back and to contact them when looking for a job.
I would recommend applying for internships even if you are not sure if that is the path you want to follow. An Internship could allow you to gain a head start into a career you’ve decided you want to go into or will provide you with a better idea of your skills and what you would enjoy in a job. However whatever job you do, it will provide you with many transferable skills you could apply in your university degree or graduate job as well beefing up your CV immensely.
Osman Assenay - BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering, graduated July 2012, currently undertaking the Brunel MSc in Sustainable Electrical Power
My name is Osman H Assenay, I enrolled at Brunel University in Sept 2008 on the BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering after completing my High National Certificate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Lambeth College. The University is a very integrated and student-oriented environment, with an outstanding reputation and nice campus. During my first year I learned engineering maths, programing, electronics, personal skills, and undertook a workshop module where I had, for the first time, hands-on laboratory experience, and group projects etc. The lecturers and admin staff were very friendly, approachable and always helpful, giving extra support and materials if required, or by holding tutorial sessions where students may ask questions. Most of the lecturers, have an open door policy which means you are welcome any time as long as they are free. All this help and support created self-confidence in myself and in my second year, I learned electronics, energy systems, digital systems, communication & s signal systems and power electronics; at this stage I knew for sure that this was what I wanted to do in the future. During this year a Brunel Career Adviser advised me to apply for a placement as this can help me in the future to gain experience. To be honest it was not in my plan, but he really motivated me to do a placement and he helped me with my presentation skills, CV and prepared me with mock interviews. Eventually I secured a paid 13 month placement with of one the world’s leading Silicon valley companies, Intel Corporation, as a Technical Marketing Engineer in the High Performance Computing (HPC) department. It was an amazing experience. On the placement I did more than 22 technical and non-technical training courses, and travelled across the UK and overseas representing Intel. Obviously I gained various skills such as time management, problem solving, international business experience, team work etc., where it rounded me to be a well-shaped engineer, and as a result I have now got an Eng. Tech & ICT Tech MIET qualification from the IET. In my final year I decided to focus on the power side of electronic and electrical engineering, as I had become very passionate about this, and I elected to take my dissertation on DC/DC power conversion, achieving a first class mark on my project, and I graduated in July 2012. But my story did not stop there. As global climate change has become one of the major 21st Century concerns, and on the opposite side there continues to be an increase in energy demand, Brunel University offered a well- rounded, industry focused MSc course in Sustainable Electrical Power. This course tackles these two twin challenges, by providing industry expertise and skilled lectures in this area. The Subject Area has recently invested in a state-of- the- art SEP lab, to aid research and MSC student in this field, and help facilitate students to think out of the box, on how possibly power can be generated with a very efficient, thoroughly sustainable, secure and green energy though alternative energy forms like wind-turbines, PV, tidal power; Hydro etc. The labs helped increase students’ problem solving abilities and forecasting power demand, by using practically used softwares such as Power World, Power Factory, Matlab etc. simulation software, and adapting a business game theory to enable less reliance on traditional generating power methods like burning fossil fuels. So to be at the centre of this challenge I decided to join the MSc in Sustainable Electrical Power course, it is really challenging course but I am really enjoying it.
Hi! My name is Laszlo Szucs and I am currently a level 3 student on the MEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering course.
During my high-school years in Hungary, I started to be interested in Mathematics and Physics, so I decided to become an engineer. After finishing my high-school years with good equivalent A Level results, I was made offers to five universities, from which I chose Brunel University.
I was so happy to come to Brunel University to study, due to its reputation, its good educational system in engineering, and also because of its campus rich in facilities such as on campus student accommodation, laboratories, lecture theatres, library, a bank, shops and so on.
Another important reason why I chose Brunel, was owing to its good location, it has a nice and peaceful campus in Greater London close to Central London, Heathrow and Central London can easily be accessed by public transport.
To me it was very interesting and exciting to move into a big city abroad, far away from my home country and start life there, and studying in a totally new environment.
Furthermore, I have to mention that the staff of the University, both teaching and the administration, in all their communications, have been really kind, patient and helpful for which I am so thankful for them, and again it was also a significant reason to choose Brunel.
I started off as a BEng student on the course in 2009. Most people say the first year is fairly easy since it is not counted towards your final degree results, but as I had no foundation in engineering, for me it took a while to get used to the new system and to understand and speak English language both in formal and informal (‘slangy’) way.
However, in the beginning I had these small ‘difficulties’, but I managed my course well by working hard, not giving up and listening to my supervisors. I have been really impressed by all the great professional tutors and lecturers who inspired, advised and helped me a lot through the years. I am really grateful for all of them, I have learnt so much from (just to mention a few of them) Prof. John Stonham, Dr. Maysam Abbod, Dr. Peter Turner and many others.
In my opinion, the second year was much harder than the first year. Plenty of lectures, lots of assignments and tough final year exams, but at the same time it was much more fun. It was so good to spend more time in the laboratories to see how the theory is applied in practice, and how the experiment results relate to simulation and calculation results. During that busy year I gained a lot from the great service of the Placement and Career Centre through the creative ‘job hunting class games’ with Raj Sidhu, which helped me to improve my interview skills and showed me how to apply for placement jobs. I am very thankful for my placement officer, Mike Grey too, without his support and help to improve my CV, the job offers I received would not have been possible.
Thus by the end of the year I was lucky to get a great placement job at Hasbro, the branded toy and game company. I was employed as electronic engineer in the company’s Research and Development department. It was one of the best years in my life. I have gained knowledge not just in the various fields of electronics by developing my hardware skills using devices, circuits, microchips, components, instruments, tools etc. and not just by developing my software skills, by writing code in different programming languages, but also I had the opportunity to take an essential part in real-life product related projects. One of my main projects was the so called ‘Yahtzee Tournament’ dice rolling game, in which I was responsible for designing and programming the electronics of the game.
A project like this gave me a great insight into the life cycle of a product, and an invaluable experience in all its development stages such as designing, specification writing, testing, debugging and so on. Working on several other projects at the same time also taught me how to be flexible, and how to work together with others as a team.
The placement year has also helped me to improve my planning, time managing and organising skills via schedules and deadlines, as well as my communication skills via development meetings and company presentations. To sum up, I think the placement was extremely enjoyable and a lot of fun.
I have gained the best experience in working in the industry as an engineer, and I have to thank to my supervisors and managers, Tony Offley-Shore, Kanish Patel and Doug Anderson.
I came back after my placement year in 2012, to commence my MEng course in Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
From this point of view I would like to encourage people to study at Brunel University, because there is a huge amount of opportunities waiting. Brunel offers highly qualified academics as well as excellent services and facilities, and last, but not least, it can give you the ‘key’ to the door of your future career.
Hi, my name is Zulfadhli Mohamad a graduate on the MEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering course. After studying the Foundation in Engineering at University of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, my government offered me a scholarship to study in the UK. I chose Brunel University as a place to study, due to its reputation in Engineering and the location in London, which is very interesting. The proximity of Central London means that I can go out and have fun with my friends after classes or on the weekends. Another contributing factor was that the technology and the facilities here are more advanced than in Malaysia. Furthermore, one of the main reasons I chose Brunel was that all the facilities are on the campus: library, lecture halls, laboratories, student halls, football pitches, Sports Centre, a convenient shop, pharmacy etc which can be accessed within walking distance.
I started off as a direct entry student taking the BEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering course in 2009 (Level Two) after finishing my first year in Malaysia. The lecturers here are very helpful and are very keen on giving you advice and tutorials, to help you understand better the lectures that are given in the classes. I gained plenty of knowledge, especially when I was working on my final year project. I never knew that digital signal processing and programming could be so much fun! I learned a lot from the guidance of my supervisors, Prof. Saeed Vaseghi (BEng final year project) and Dr Ashraf Khir and Dr. Mohamed Darwish (MEng group project). The MEng group project is tough, but it is worth the experience. The project needs mechanical and electrical students to work together as a group. The teamwork we learned on these joint activities, was really important, just like in the real industry.
Learning optical and satellite communications helped me to gain much knowledge to prepare myself in finding jobs in Malaysia. Optical Communication as a subject is quite new in my country, and there is a demand for people with enough knowledge and skills in this area. Malaysia also recently is preparing to launch two new satellites, and this gives opportunities for fresh graduates to find jobs in managing, maintaining and operating earth station satellite equipment.
I am currently making applications to a number of posts in my home country, and I am confident that with the credentials of a Brunel degree, I will soon find a position to suit me.
In conclusion, I would strongly recommend taking an Electronic & Electrical Engineering degree at Brunel, as there are plenty of resources to enable you to excel in your future career. Furthermore, the lecturers at Brunel are always there to help and give you support when needed.
Tafadzwa Kadere, BEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering
Work Placement Company: General Electric, Oil & Gas division
Job Title: Supply Chain Intern
How I got the placement: Placement and Careers Centre
Salary paid: Yes
Work Placement Summary:
The company was General Electric (GE), Oil & Gas division. My department was the Supply Chain.
I got the placement by uploading my CV onto the GE website. The Placement and Careers office helped to put my CV together. I was paid on my placement and the salary that GE offers for interns varies from year to year.
The roles of all the interns on the site varied a lot. I did not have any specific day to day tasks. Rather I was given projects & tasks and their completion dates. The duration would be anywhere between two days and a few months, depending on the complexity of the problem.
Before I started I spoke to a few people about the role including some of my lecturers and the message they all echoed was that I would get to see how a big company like GE works.
By the end I had quite a lot of responsibility I could make decisions that would have direct impact on the company’s earnings. However I had to prove myself first, taking on step at a time until I built up my knowledge of the business and its processes and gained the trust of my colleagues.
There was no specific mentor assigned to me by the company but there were a lot of experts available on site who I could speak to. Also because GE is a large multinational company I could to speak to experts from all over the world who work in other areas of the company.
There were also a few assignments set by Brunel as part of the placement. In my degree the placement counts as one third of the second year. Part of the requirements for the placement is to get three tutor visits while you are on placement; one at the start, one in the middle and one at the end of the placement year.
The placement was very enjoyable and also quite eye-opening. I saw the different opportunities for jobs that are available for people with an engineering degree, and a problem solving mind-set. I actually learnt about some roles which are not directly related to my course, which I am now very interested in. I made a lot of friends, both personally, when I was living in a new city, and also built a network of professionals to stay in touch with.
GE has a lot of corporate perks and rewards. One example is the health account which contributes money towards sporting related purchases. They also give out gift vouchers for outstanding employees.
In respect to future employment, they encouraged me to apply for the leadership programme when I graduate.
The placement gave me information on how a business works, so I have knowledge on how I can run a company of my own. I gained skills in areas such as business systems analysis and data mining, both of which are highly regarded careers paths of their own. I also had training on process improvements which is also a very good career. In summary, I learnt a lot and I now have a much wider grasp of the opportunities available to me and the skills that employers are looking for.
I undertook my undergraduate BEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from September 2007 to May 2010 and graduated with a first class honours.
There was a range of facilities available at Brunel when I came here and a lot of computer labs all around the university with a lot of the latest software which was really useful.
I was accepted at Brunel based on the grades I had obtained from a BTEC National Diploma in General Engineering from Brooklands College after I had left school. Before I started at Brunel I had been working as a fully qualified electrician which is where the interest to go further with my knowledge in electrical engineering stemmed from. Although I had left college with a BTEC I still had to go back to college for 4 years on a day release basis to study electrical installation whilst working as an electrician on an apprenticeship.
I chose Brunel as I had been working as an electrician on the new sports facilities including the new running track and basketball/netball court and decided to have a look around and speak to the tutors. I found the tutors very helpful and was given some great advice so based on that and the strong engineering reputation for academic excellence at Brunel, I decided to apply.
During my undergraduate course some of the lecturers were particularly inspiring and really added a real enthusiasm to their subjects including Dr Darwish, Dr Hutchinson, Dr Loo, Dr Dear and Professor Irving. Without the help of Dr Hutchinson’s remedial mathematics lessons during the 1st year of the course I believe I would never have progressed to the second year as they were pivotal in gaining a solid mathematical background which I have needed for the duration of my time at university.
My dissertation looked at modelling the different topologies used for single and three-phase transformers using PSpice simulation software. A good model of the transformer was required in order to evaluate the performance parameters of power converters such as three-phase diode rectifiers. The complications that were associated with this problem involved attempting to model the non-linear characteristic of a magnetic circuit. A model was also created based on an actual iron core transformer used within the laboratory, and where no data sheet was available tests had to be carried out to ascertain specific characteristics of the iron core transformer such as magnetic flux density, number of turns, csa of windings and many other parameters. One of the main reasons why I chose this project is that I am very interested in how a transformer is utilised in the transmission and distribution network and it provided a challenge that would allow my interest to develop further.
Over the summer after I finished my undergraduate degree I was informed by Dr Gary Taylor who is in charge of the MSc course, that there was a scholarship being offered by the Panasonic Trust in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Engineering that could be used for the MSc at Brunel. I applied for it over the summer and shortly before the start of the course I was told that I had been selected out of many applications for a short list of under 20 candidates who had been put forward for an interview in London at the Royal Academy of Engineering head office. Soon after the interview I was informed that I had been one of 5 successful applicants who had been awarded the prestigious scholarship. Around the same time as receiving the scholarship I was also offered a job in the electrical research department of Cummins, a global engineering company who had seen my CV on the Gradcracker website, however, I turned this opportunity down in favour of improving my skill set and level of knowledge on the MSc. I have to thank a fantastic placement and careers service who helped me to improve my CV and encourage me to apply for jobs and register with various job websites and in particular, Raj Sidhu, without whom, some of the job offers I received would not have been possible.
I am currently studying my postgraduate MSc in Sustainable Electrical Power at Brunel which is a subject that is extremely interesting and essential to the future of the world’s energy requirements. As part of the course we have a guest speakers come in from industry to give lectures on the current technology and practices being used, and this has subsequently shown how the rest of the material that we have been taught on the course is up to date and benefiting from all the latest research being carried out including here at Brunel, within the Brunel Institute of Power Systems (BIPS). There are also field trips organised to the National Grid control centre, substations and wind farms which help to add a practical aspect to the theory behind the course.
In the future, after I have completed my MSc, I intend to travel for a year and spend a lot of time in France in order to improve my French, which I was studying part time before I came to university. After travelling, I will be looking to apply for a job with one of the major electrical engineering firms in, either the renewable, transmission, distribution or generation areas.
I would encourage students to apply for either the BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering or the MSc Sustainable Electrical Power , as both courses have really given me a lot of opportunities and opened a lot of doors into industry. I feel that my experience at Brunel has been a good one and although there is a lot of hard work, it does pay off if you are willing to work hard and learn more.
Saadia Gauhar graduated BEng Electronic and Electric Engineering in July 2010
I attended Brunel University for Electronic & Electrical Engineering (BEng) in 2007; I was a direct entrant to Level 2 from another university. I then graduated from Brunel in July 2010. As I had always loved Maths and Physics, I wanted to pursue my career in a field that involved these two subjects. Since childhood, my enthusiasm for the latest technology led me to dream of making people’s everyday lives easier by introducing new technological advancements in the world of electronics. Once I was mature enough to make a decision about my future career, the only field that came to my mind was Electronic Engineering. I researched many universities before finally deciding to come to Brunel University. The main things that attracted me towards Brunel were its strong reputation in engineering, good course structure and highly qualified lecturers.
When I first saw Brunel’s campus I was really impressed. It is well maintained, but the best part is there are several buildings dedicated just for the engineering students.
My course at Brunel was a great experience. It taught me the latest industrial knowledge required to become an engineer. The lecturers were always helpful and welcomed any comments or questions from the students, not only during the lectures, but at anytime! Some lecturers even helped me outside of their office hours, especially during exam periods. This really assisted my exam preparation, thus allowing me to put in my best effort in the examinations.
I took the option of an industrial placement after my second year; this decision was very much encouraged by all the lecturers and I believe this decision has made a great impact on my career profile. Brunel’s Career services are the best of all. They helped me prepare a brilliant CV for my placement year and advised me on how to prepare for interviews and assessments. The Careers team worked hard with me in securing my placement year.
I was on placement with a company called Densitron Technologies, which is the manufacturer of displays like TFTs, OLEDs, LCDs etc. Working there as an intern gave me insight into working in both industry and an office based environment. My role was to contribute to the product development team in designing, testing and improving the latest display technology from software to hardware bit. I was also required to handle customer queries about newly launched products. This opportunity boosted my confidence and I now have a CV with detailed experience and knowledge, not only from an academic point of view but also company experience.
My final year project was related to power electronics, Optimized PWM inverter. The objectives of the project were to build an inverter system that is optimised, meaning the unwanted harmonics are eliminated. Some of the applications for this system are sensitive military communication devices, sensitive electronic devices, batteries for electric cars etc.
I mainly chose this project because it was wide-ranging; I had to do everything from virtually designing the whole system to building the final working model in the laboratory. From this project I learnt industry-used technical software, fault-finding and actual PCB designing. My project tutor was very helpful; he gave me good advice when I needed it, and he always welcomed ideas from me. This drove me towards obtaining an ‘A’ in my project.
After Graduating from Brunel in July 2010, I went off on holidays to the Middle East, where my family resides. I was offered a job in September 2010 for an Electronics Engineer position, in a well known company in Saudi Arabia. I am planning to start my career by gaining some experience and then I would like to further my knowledge by completing a Masters degree.
I would encourage applicants to study at Brunel University because of its strong reputation, highly qualified staff, great campus, excellent library services and unique course structures. But, most of all, the degree from Brunel is well recognised across industry and the students from Brunel are known to be academically and professionally remarkable.
Philip Day graduated BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 2009
"I studied Electronic & Electrical Engineering BEng (Hons) and graduated with a First Class Degree in June 2009. Having trained and worked as an electrician I was drawn to electrical energy and I was looking to go to university in London. Brunel's reputation as a good engineering university that took a more hands on approach made it very attractive.
The lecturers were friendly and approachable, I always felt that when approached with a question, the lecturers were unfailingly helpful and would take extra time to explain or at least open your eyes to the way the solution could be found. There are a lot of opportunities available at the university which I was lucky enough to make the most of e.g. with Dr Gareth Taylor I undertook a successful undergraduate research project funded by the Nuffield Research foundation at level 2, which was followed by the IEEE publishing a paper based on my work. With Dr Taylor's help I was able to attend IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting in Pittsburgh in July 2007 to present this paper. I was also fortunate to attend a two week Erasmus sponsored Summer School concerning Energy and the Environment in Crete in the Summer of 2009 through the University. This was arranged by Dr Taylor who was lecturing on the course and was therefore able to register two students from Brunel University on the course.
Through the Placement Office I managed to get a year long placement at Intel, which taught me a range of different skills that I may not have been exposed to at university, both the software and computing skills I developed there were invaluable. I worked on both high performance computing and application design-in center (ADC) working with servers. ADC verified a product through Alpha or Beta stage until official product release, and then supported that product throughout its life time. Whilst on placement I was also able to work at CERN as a subcontractor for a month carrying out a hardware intervention in CERN’s computer center, see here.
I did a fair amount of additional travel including a trip to Dublin which included a visit to Intel fabrication plant in County Kildare, Ireland and to the Intel Solutions Summit (ISS) in Rome where I represented Intel demonstrating Intel’s latest server and storage solutions. Intel does not guarantee jobs after completion of the degree, however in my end of placement report, my manager stated that should I apply to Intel at any time in the future she would strongly support my application.
My course dissertation was based on small-scale embedded generation (sseg) at the University in particular focusing on the wind turbine we were planning to build at the University, however, because of planning permission problems my project was realised using a solar panel installation at the University.
I was also the Brunel's recipient of the Sir William Siemens Medal which made it a lot easier when approaching Siemens about a graduate position. I have just started working as graduate with Siemens in the Automation & Drives Department. It was a very difficult decision to make between doing a Doctorate, a PG Masters or taking this job, however I was able to get some valuable advice from a number of lecturers and professors who were more than happy to take the time to answer my questions. I am currently a graduate management trainee at Siemens in Manchester, the graduate programme is recognised by the IET and the company is actively supporting me to achieve Chartered status with the IET. The programme is over 2 years in which I have a broad 6 month placements within different business sectors of the company, which will introduce me to all the various aspects of the business, at the end of which, a best fit will be found for my skills within the organisation.
There are huge amounts of opportunities available at Brunel, as a student just ask questions and the professors are very open and willing to communicate with you. The sporting facilities, accommodation and social life are very good with a wide variety for you to take advantage of. London is one of the great cities of the world and an amazing place to be a student. I must say finally, there is a world of opportunity at Brunel for you to come and make best of, it’s up to you!!"
Avinash Maharaj graduated BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 2007
"Here I am sitting in the First Class Lounge of Schipol Airport Amsterdam waiting for my fight to Norway, thinking back to a year ago when I was a final year student at Brunel University trying to finish my final year project, attend lectures, study for exams and hold down a part-time job.
I’m an Automation & Controls Engineer working for British Petroleum. I did a BEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Brunel graduating class of 2007. In my current job role I work with the Exploration & Production Segment on the construction of a new offshore platform. The job is challenging and results oriented, very similar to researching assignments and studying for exams at university, the only exception is you get paid. If you think for one second that work at university is too much and overbearing you will be in for a greater surprise when you join the world of work and you have a boss to answer to and not just getting a lower grade. I think this is one of the most valuable lessons the lecturers at Brunel imparted on to me, in the real world no one has time for excuses, they need people that can produce results and so far this attitude has paid off for me. Going that little extra mile helps and eventually it plays a part in what class of degree you get.
Studying at Brunel was a great experience the course was challenging, interesting and technical. I found lecturers to be very approachable, helpful and motivating, in a nutshell “they cared”. During my final year project availability of resources like access to computers and lab time was accessible and flexible.
The Career’s Centre at Brunel was also very helpful and supportitive during my application to BP, I was able to get personalised one to one CV sessions, coaching on handling interviews and general advice, and well, it worked as I got the job!!!
Thinking back if I had to do it all over again I would still choose to attend Brunel University, the student support from lecturers and support staff is incredible and the degree is well recognised in the working world."
Ludivine Bell is a final year student on the BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering course
"My name is Ludivine Bell, I am a final year student at Brunel University studying the BEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. In my first year at Brunel I undertook the Foundation of Engineering course and on successful completion progressed to the BEng programme. The Foundation course provided general knowledge about engineering and IT. It helped me to decide which engineering field I was more interested in pursuing and also to gain maturity and good analytical skills.
My first two years on the BEng were a great experience, providing valuable experience of working in a team and developing my time-management skills through team assignments. In the second term of my 2nd year at Brunel the Work Placement Office gave a number of workshops about opportunities for an industrial work placement. A work placement involves working for a whole year in industry (in the third year of your degree), in a company that specialises in work related to your degree programme. The placement provides students with the opportunity of working in the real world and using the knowledge gained on their degree in a practical setting.
The workshops organised by the Work Placement Office helped explain what employers are looking for in a CV, a covering letter and at interview. They also gave guidance to students on creating their own acceptable CV and covering letter, tailored to different jobs. Finally, I got very interested about the idea of going on placement, as I now understood the significance off having company experience offering special training for a year related to the course you are studying. After researching companies that I wanted to work for and sending my CV’s and covering letter, several companies replied to me inviting me for interview including BMW. I received a lot of help from staff, both in and outside the Work Placement Office which helped me prepare for the interview at BMW, including mock interviews. This preparation helped me to respond positively without stress to the interview questions. I would also recommend that you take the time to research information about the company that are interviewing you. I can confidently say that many staff at Brunel helped me in the work placement and interview process and finally to get a contract with BMW!!
My placement at BMW was great. I was treated as an employee with respect. I worked with engineers that taught me their work. They started to give me more responsibility when I showed confidence about the work I was doing. One of my responsibilities was to call meetings to solve electronic problems. I was expected to make a presentation covering the significant factors affecting the problems and this often involved calling the relevant suppliers and discussing the problem with quality engineers to brainstorm around the problem and find a solution in a short space of time, which both solved the problem and was economical. I also had to analyse redundant faults in the mini cooper radios, by using electrical tools to test and identify the fault. I employed the use of graph analysis to spot the fault and resolve it. Working in this environment was a great experience and provided me with invaluable personal and technical knowledge and many skills e.g. I gained confidence in myself, the work underlined the effectiveness of working as a team, I gained knowledge and skills in making presentations, in problem solving and especially problem solving by analysis, creating graphs and engaging in brainstorming activities. I also gained experience in time management and working under pressure. Therefore I would recommend strongly to everyone who is unsure about undertaking a placement to take up this opportunity as it is a clever choice for your life as it results in so much personal development.
So in conclusion, a years work placement improves your skills and enables you to get valuable company experience. The final advantages are that you are not only are paid a salary, but there are possibilities that you will be offered a job on graduation. BMW offered me a job when I graduate with Brunel!!!"
Rahul Panchal graduated in June 2005 with a BEng Honours degrees in Electronic & Electrical Engineering
"As an ambitious student, choosing the right university and deciding to devote four years of my life, was the most important decision for me just like every other student. I preferred Brunel University over other universities for its excellent reputation in engineering and very strong industry links resulting in an exceptional employment ratio. I also wanted to remain closer to Central London to make the most of my social life and would be comparatively less expensive than studying at any college in the heart of London. As the name suggests, Electronic and Electrical Engineering covered a wide range of modules from software programming to hardcore electronics. Mathematical background and very strong analytical skills made this degree ideal for me.
I am grateful that the University highly encouraged me to pursue one year Industrial training. The Placement Office offered tremendous support to secure a placement in Risk Management at Kodak Limited and also offered assistance throughout my training period. It not only provided me with financial comfort, but also gave me a break from academic studies which allowed me to analyse various career paths. I found the work placement very rewarding as it exposed me to the professional environment with hands on experience. The opportunity to get involved with real life projects at Kodak enhanced my project management skills and documentation technique to a great extent. These skills had proved to be my greatest asset for my Final Year Project.
When I returned to University to complete my final year, I was more focussed after the industrial experience. Like every student, my biggest concern was the Final Year Project as this has contributes the most towards degree classification, but the project supervisors took personal interest to understand my career interests and tried to suggest projects based on my strengths and future career ambitions. I finally decided to take up a research based project in fourth generation (4G) wireless communication and I was surprised to receive tremendous support from my supervisor. The PhD research group working on similar projects were very helpful as well. Our efforts paid off and the depth of my research was beyond my and my supervisor's expectations. My supervisor motivated me and guided me to write a professional paper as he felt my research could help the research societies worldwide. My professional paper got accepted by International Wireless Conference and my research was presented in Denmark. As this would be published by IEEE, it opened up all opportunities worldwide. I was also offered a place to join the research group at Brunel and pursue a PhD which could have been a very exciting opportunity for students who are more research focussed.
I was more excited to enter the outer world and took up a graduate position at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In addition to the academic support, I also received extensive guidance from the Careers Centre throughout the employment procedure from structuring impressive answers for the application forms to good interview techniques. In a nutshell, I would definitely recommend Brunel University to students who are after great opportunities in the academic arena or may it be graduate employment just like myself."