Engineering and design student insights

Student projects, placements, research and study experiences in the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Posts By: Will Millar-Smith

Final blog post about my time at DTU, Copenhagen

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Hello,

I thought it would be a good idea to do one final blog post about my time in Copenhagen, as I have now finished at the Danish Technical University. If anyone is hesitant or unsure about whether to go for this opportunity, my advice would be to go for it!!!! I would recommend it 100% and I have had an absolutely amazing time in Denmark! I was quite sad to be leaving in the end! It has been really interesting and fun to meet lots of new people, see a new city/country, live abroad for the first time and not forgetting to study in a new way/style!

I think my last blog post was during the autumn break you get whilst studying at the University. Since this point, the work load did pick up considerably and around Christmas it became very busy, but I thought this was also due to the fact that this was when I was applying for Graduate Schemes for next year and completing interviews which took up a considerable amount of time. Not just because the workload being so heavy, it is unattainable to keep up with. However, personally I feel that being abroad does not hinder any applications at all; it is just different. This because no one around you is applying for jobs at the same time so you really have to look at balancing your time effectively. I have also had to fly home a few times for interviews/assessment centres and I have found that companies were fine with reimbursing me for flights and train travel in England. It was just a bit of a hassle. So don’t let this put you off! Also it is a really good conversation opener, when they ask how far have you had to travel in today and they seemed really interested by Copenhagen.

I will start by talking about my accommodation. As mentioned the accommodation by the University is extremely lacking and unorganised! Finding something private in town is a bit tricky but I wouldn’t say completely unachievable. I ended up really loving my student halls (Tingbjerg Terraserne), it was nice to share with people studying different degrees at different universities in the city and it was very social. The halls were of a lot higher standard than others I visited across Copenhagen, and the rooms were a really good size. The location wasn’t perfect, but certainly had the best of both. We were a 40 minute cycle away from the University which wasn’t so bad and then 30 minutes into town (a really nice cycle in, through a nice part of the town too). I felt this was probably the best place to be for us, as we were not so far away from town that we wouldn’t go in but were not so far away University either! Maybe the summer weather would have made the cycle easier!

The social side of the Erasmus placement was really fun! There was always something to do and see, or people to go out with! The nightlife in Copenhagen was more restricted than Bath to Thursday through to Saturday night realistically (not something every night it seemed); however it was a good night out with plenty of bars and clubs. Also the University organised a lot of nights for us to get involved in. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so are really keen to get involved - so don’t worry about not knowing anyone. The city itself is really amazing, I was lucky to have a lot of friends over for weekends and I never ran out of anything new to show people or see. There are some very cool regions/districts with lots of cafes and bars, meaning that there is something for everyone.  Also, as I had worked over summer, I managed to get about at weekends too, doing road trips around the country and across to Sweden – which if you can you should take advantage of.

The studying at the University was certainly very different to at home, with four hour blocks for each module just once a week. However by the end I did quite enjoy this style – as it meant you could get straight onto the tutorial and get help from the teachers. I will run through (Briefly) my thoughts on the modules I took before Christmas and then talk about the 3 week intensive course you can do in January.

Sustainable Buildings – A 10 Credit module (Double) but I would recommend this module which has a very strong building environment focus. It uses software such as IDA ICE and Heat 2 to build up to designing a “Nearly Zero Energy Building” to Danish standards. I found the lectures and assignments very interesting, and once you get your head around the software and what is being asked of you – it is really enjoyable. If you keep up with the deadlines (This course is all assignments) throughout the term, it makes it achievable as you develop your skills for the next assignment.

Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics – I personally really liked this module, it had a petroleum engineering and tunnelling focus for the application of geotechnics. I found this really interesting that all the lecture material was related to real life situations and to applied situations. The exam (100% exam) was very tough I will admit, but despite this the lecturer and teaching assistant were really nice.

Structural Analysis – This module again is 100% coursework, using Danish building codes to design an office and retail structure. It takes it a lot further than that taught during second year and some of the assignments were tricky. Each week you have a new assignment to complete, which you then write up at the end of term. This is very taxing, as it actually takes a long time to write up! Therefore budget your time for this alongside your revision. However I would recommend you take this module.

Smart, Connected and Liveable Cities – I didn’t really enjoy this module. The assignments themselves were really interesting, however, the lectures were not related to them at all and just general knowledge which personally I felt were very dull – I didn’t look forward to Tuesday afternoons! The assignments consisted of writing a book review on George Orwells 1984 focusing on urban design, writing a dystopian story again focusing on urban design. We also had a group report and presentation on a topic of your choice, from which we choose to do city resilience to climate change. In particular we focused on rising sea levels and looked at the viability of options such as floating cities or floodable cities. In the end this worked really well for me, as my group was with five really nice and good people. But I could imagine you may get a bit unstuck doing this, as a few of the presentations were quite poor. The work load was heavy; however, don’t let my view completely put you off – as a few people really enjoyed the lectures.

As I have mentioned before you have to take 30 credits at DTU, I opted (along with the others from Bath) to do 25 before Christmas and a 5 credit “intensive course” after Christmas. This module was environmental engineering in developing countries. I personally really wanted to come back after Christmas, as it helped to reduce the work load before the holidays and gave me more time in Denmark to enjoy it! However, if you choose not to, you would get a very long holiday till when you get back to Bath. This January option isn’t taken up by most people, as a lot of my friends (nearly all from DTU) left before Christmas so there wasn’t many of us left after but despite this it was still fun! The course itself was really interesting (in 9-5 every day) looking at methods to improve sanitation, water supply and waste management. There were really good guest lecturers nearly every day, and the assignment in groups was a real life case study in an area of the world, to improve these things so it was very interesting. We had a final report as a hand in, with weekly presentations on our progress and also weekly tests to make sure we were turning up. I would certainly recommend this course, as it gets you back to Denmark (Also for New Year’s celebrations (as the course started on the 2nd) which was something very different to home!!!) and is enjoyable.

The only one slight negative I would say about the whole Erasmus experience is the price in Denmark. I worked for 13 weeks over summer before I went out there, so I didn’t struggle too bad. But, Denmark is an expensive place so just be prepared and it won’t be such a shock! But don’t let this put you off, just try to work a little over summer before you get here!!!

I really hope these blog posts have inspired you to do Erasmus at DTU, as I do not regret going one bit and I have really enjoyed it! It has been a great experience and I have made lots of friends who I will definitely see again.  One big word of advice would be to go and get involved in everything, especially the introduction week as this is where I met a lot of my friends from the whole time there!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask and I will be more than happy to help.

 

Copenhagen, DTU - Thoughts so far

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hello,

I thought it would be a good time to do another blog post for my time in Copenhagen, which is going incredibly quickly! We are now half way through our time on Erasmus and have had a one week break, to catch up on work and more importantly rest. I personally have taken this opportunity to try and see a bit more of the country with a road trip to the main island of Jutland to see a few cities and places and headed home for a little bit (Be warned if you do apply to come out here, despite there being very cheap flights to and from the UK around four weeks before,  if you leave it to the week before the price is incredibly expensive!). But lots of people are spending the week also heading around new European cities and in Denmark itself.

I will start by talking about the social aspects of the Erasmus placement so far. During the week (Sunday – Wednesday) it is very focused on working and quite intense I would say, in order to get all your deadlines met. A lot of people studying with us just have to pass the Erasmus placement which is a tad annoying but I have not as of yet (Luckily!!) had anyone who hasn’t pulled their weight in group projects. However, from Thursday through to Saturday night there are so many different social activities to do which more than make up for the intense week days. This includes university nights out ranging from mini festivals on campus, 50p beers on the last Friday of the month, parties in the S-Huset (Student Union), Octoberfest, Bar crawls around the city and going out in the city itself. So there is more than enough night-out and drinking activities to get involved with and to meet people.

This said, there are also a huge range of things to do that are not drink related within the city itself – there are so many places to visit, things to see and really cool areas of Copenhagen to explore. I have been quite lucky in that I have had a few visitors come out to Copenhagen so I have spent a lot of weekends in the city with them exploring and trying new things. This includes boat tours around the harbour, swimming in the main river, Carlsberg factory, seeing the houses of parliament etc so if you are concerned that socially the Erasmus placement would not be fun – I personally would say there is nothing to worry about at all!

The only slight negative I would have is the sports at DTU do not compare at all to Bath and makes me realise how lucky we have been. I am a keen footballer and have joined the DTU Football group, sadly they only play 4-aside Danish style Futsal (which has some very interesting rules) but it is just training at the moment twice a week (one of which I can’t make due to lectures). There has been talking of trying to get us into competitive tournaments, however the standard is extremely varied between practise sessions depending on who turns up. Also the team is not limited to just students so many working professionals from the local town turn up and play. Despite this I have found it fun, and another good way to meet new people. There are other sports team such as dance, rugby, volleyball but they are limited.

The work/learning experience in DTU has been very different to Bath. As already mentioned the lectures are in four hour blocks from 8-12 or 1-5 which does make for very long days. The lectures are split normally by two hours of teaching, and then two hours of tutorial where you work on a project or examples from class. The lectures themselves require a bit of self-learning before and you are not given as much in depth detail compared to Bath; certain things are glossed over very quickly. I personally find the tutorials after the lectures where I learn the most; the teacher usually stays for this and there are always learning assistants. The learning assistants are students from the year above who have previously taken these modules, I personally have found that everyone is very approachable and more than helpful trying to help you understand anything or showing you the best way to do something. So on this front I have no problems; however, I do feel in lectures they rapidly run through things without most people understanding. I will now give you a brief run through of the subjects I am taking, which Ben and Dominique also do 3 out of the 4 with me.

-       Smart, Connected and Liveable Cities – This module focuses on looking at what concepts/features make a modern city “connected/smart” and the ways about achieving this. What certain aspects does a city need to have in order to make it reachable for all people living within it and what makes it stand out against other cities. The course started really interestingly; however, as the weeks have progressed I have found it getting a little tedious with the lectures just consisting of general knowledge about different elements of cities such as water or transport without offering any solutions to problems or really relating to any assignments. The assignments themselves seem interesting, we have to read and write a report on George Orwell 1984 which is a very good read, write a story about a utopian city and do a group project on climate adaptation within cities.

-       Structural Analysis – I quite enjoy this module and personally it is up there as one of my better modules. The work load consists of doing assignments each week that add up to the final report; we have 3 hours of tutorial to the do the work (you have to do stuff outside class too!) and then an hour lecture after which goes over next week’s work. We are using Danish building codes to design a 5 story construction in Copenhagen, looking at the use of different floors by different occupants. We have had to look at wind loading, connection details in a lot of detail, wall stability so overall I have really enjoyed this and I am learning quite a lot. However, do not expect the lecture to clear everything up for you – you really have to digest the presentation and understand it yourself.

-       Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics – This is my favourite subject I am taking at DTU, with the only slight negative being that it is assessed through examinations meaning I have to stay late in to December to take the exam. The topic itself builds on a little bit of similar stuff to soil mechanics but focuses on it from a petroleum engineering and tunnelling point of view. With a lot of the lectures focusing on the application of what we are being taught, for a potential job in the petroleum industry or tunnelling. We have had some very interesting guest lecturers from Ramboll, and a site vist but most importantly the teacher and teaching assistant are very good in this subject and very helpful during the tutorial sessions. The work is generally quite hard to get your head around with the different conventions and a lot of new content but this said I am still finding it very enjoyable.

-       Sustainable Buildings – This topic is a 10 credit module so in essence is a double module. The work load for this has been very intense with assignments during the term and I have generally had to spend a lot of time on this one (compared to the others). It is not technically difficult but the assignments are worded very poorly so we have been spending a lot of time trying to dissect what he really wants from the questions. We have also noticed that the other people in the class are very happy to plug numbers into software without really understanding what they are doing, so a very different learning experience to Bath. The topic focuses on creating Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in Denmark, and so far we have used different software to optimise building construction, window constructions and mechanical ventilation systems. The work I find is very interesting but it is just the time taken understanding what he really wants which takes up a large amount of your time. I would recommend it though.

The accommodation despite being very sceptical about at the start I am really enjoying. It is really nice to be sharing halls with people studying from all over Copenhagen and a good way to meet new people. The kitchens are really sociable, we have regular meals, drinks, parties, and watch tv in the living area so I really can’t complain on this front. Having the bar downstairs is also a nice way to meet new people on a Saturday night. The standard is very high compared to other friends who are in DTU accommodation (Campus Village, shared student houses in Verum etc) but the offset is it is a good 35-40 min cycle to campus (which for a 8 lecture means getting up at 6). But to be honest I think this is completely worth it even in pouring rain and being close to town is also really nice.

Sorry about the length of this blog post, but I hope it gives you an insight into the 7 weeks I have now done at DTU. Any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and I will be more than willing to help, the previous year who were at DTU were extremely helpful in helping me and the others out.

 

DTU (First Week)

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hello,

(Sorry this post is a bit dated as I have had troubled logging into to upload this to the moodle page! But should still be useful)

My name is Will Millar-Smith and I am one of the current University of Bath students on Erasmus to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Copenhagen. DTU is one of the biggest Universities in Denmark, and has a really good rating as one of the best technical Nordic Universities. I have been told the number of people studying at DTU is similar to Bath, and in a way it is similar to Bath in that it is a Campus University outside of the city, however, it is almost four times the size in area and almost dwarfs the campus we have at Claverton Down.

I applied to undertake the Erasmus programme at DTU as I have always wanted to work and live outside of the UK, to see if it was something I would like to do once I graduate from University. Denmark (DTU) seemed like the ideal place to live in, with amazing scenery, style of life and a University that offered the courses in English. Although, this said attempting to learn a new language was also a large attraction as this is something I have never done (However, Danish appears to be extremely tricky to learn- be warned).

From living in Copenhagen for all of one week, it appears to be an incredibly friendly city with a strong focus on green and sustainable living. Everyone cycles everywhere on an impressive cycle network (which if you do choose to come to Denmark is a must in order to get about) or failing this makes use of a large public transport network. One word of warning I have noticed so far is that it is an incredibly expensive place, I would say cost wise more than London and transport is VERY expensive which I guess is a reason for everyone cycling everywhere. However, this said flight wise to London it is extremely well connected with budget airlines.

I guess it may be useful to talk about the application process and then go to introduction and getting settled into Denmark. Once you have been accepted by Bath University for the Moodle application to DTU there is a bit of a lull before you apply online and in paper to DTU official which I think has to be done in April. At this time you also have to pick your course modules from an online database in order to fit within a specific timetable, which is easier said than done. In total you have to take 30 ETCS credits which work out to be slightly more modules than you would in Bath but the term is a longer period so I guess it all evens out. Also you have to build your timetable to ensure no modules overlap as some take place at the same time (which is a bit annoying as it does rule out doing certain things). A module (5 ETCS) takes place across a 4 hour period from either 8-12 or 13-17. However, I have yet to have any lectures so I cannot comment on this style of learning yet.

Once you have applied and been accepted by DTU then comes the rush! DTU is heavily oversubscribed and lacks a lot student accommodation! I think it makes the Bath rush around Christmas seem over dramatized for the student housing. Copenhagen itself also seems to have a limited number of student style or just rented apartments which then further compounds this problem. As will be pointed out to you, DTU provides no guarantee of accommodation so when the email comes through to apply it is a big rush to look at the DTU accommodation on offer and apply quickly as it works on a first come first saved basis. Also a word of warning, this isn’t a thinly veiled comment, I have met many people who are currently in hostels or airbnb rooms, as the lack of accommodation is severe. There is a range of accommodation on offer, as mentioned before DTU is a campus university location roughly 17km from central Copenhagen. They have accommodation on campus called Campus Village (Which reminded me of shipping containers – it looked pretty poor when I visited last week), other student halls on campus, student halls located across the city suburbs, student houses to the North of the campus (further away from Copenhagen) and the option of living with a family around the city itself (which some friends do seem to be enjoying). I and two others from Bath opted for student accommodation in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where we have ended up in Tingbjerg which is in the north west of the city. The map below should be able to give you some scale from the city, our halls and the campus.

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The location of our halls (Tingbjerg) to DTU. Note the distance to Copenhagen as well!

The student residence we are staying in is slightly odd; you stay in a building made from large corridors with up 15 other students all living off the corridor and all sharing a kitchen which is really nice as it is very sociable. The rooms have all been recently renovated with en-suites, and within the student halls itself there is also a bar and gym so there is plenty of activities to be doing. However, a slight moan would be the student halls are not just for students from DTU and are used my people studying at Universities all over Copenhagen. So not everyone is in the same boat as you, some people I have met have been living there for five years, so when you first arrive it is a bit of a shock that it is not a load of nervous international students all studying and joining DTU at the same time. So that could be a bit overwhelming, however, I have found everyone to be extremely friendly and sociable so far! I really can’t complain, it is a bit of a hassle getting to campus without a bike (roughly an hour on public transport) but now I have one it is roughly 30 mins to campus and 30 to the city (which I think is great! Providing lots of opportunities to nip into town to explore, see the sights and go out on an evening).

At DTU they run an introduction week for new exchange students in order to allow you to meet new people, make friends and also learn about the University and how it works. The week is very different to a typical English fresher’s week with more activities during the day which include lessons about Danish Culture, language lessons and team bonding activities, there was also opportunities to have a tour around the city which was very useful! I attended the week, and to be fair even though it was different; I really enjoyed it and it was a great way to meet new people! Although it isn’t as alcohol/night out focused as a British fresher’s week, every evening most people ended up in the bar so it was a good way to socialise and they also held a large party on the last night.

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Me and my buddy group on the city tour ( I am the small one, with the checked shirt)

I will try and write another blog once I have had some lectures to provide more information on this side of the Erasmus programme and also on how it is going during term time. If you have any questions or would like further information about DTU give me a message on Facebook or drop me an email at wfms20@bath.ac.uk and I will be more than happy to help.