Engineering and design student insights

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

Further insights from DTU

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Author: Adam Engstrom


Hi again. It’s been a while since I last wrote, coursework, exams etc really piled on towards the end of the semester to say the least. What I thought I’d do in this post is to describe my experiences in the courses I wrote about last time and give a final evaluation of my time in Copenhagen.

Right after my last blog post, we had a week holiday. This was really nice as it gave us a little break after having quite a few deadlines the week before. I decided to stay in Copenhagen this week and tried to every day do some sightseeing I hadn’t already done. I ended up going to quite a few museums as the weather wasn’t great. Most museums have free entry every Wednesday and you can find those that are free on other days as well, so you can basically go to something for free every day. The Danish Architecture Centre had an exhibition about the most iconic constructions by Danish architects and engineers which was free for DTU students which I highly recommend. They also have a really cool bookshop which I bought a couple of books from. That holiday was needed as it had gotten pretty hectic with groupwork and individual assignments.

One common trend that both Elliot and I have noticed is that working in groups here has for the most part been bad. The quality is not up to standard that we’re used to back in Bath. We both had experiences of group members not pulling their weight, not producing pieces of reports they were responsible for etc, and when finally producing a piece of writing it was often so badly that it had to be rewritten by one of us others. What I also noticed is that when group work is planned for in the schedule, people wouldn’t work past the designated hours even though there was still work to do. This was very frustrating.

Another trend I’ve noticed is that courses and students here are heavily computer reliant. Most of the lectures rely on you bringing a laptop and working on it. I don’t particularly mind this but would have been annoying if I had a large laptop I had to carry around. What I don’t particularly like about this is that the Danish students seem to be very reliant on computers. Whereas Elliot and I are used to working out for example structural questions visually and by hand, students here seem to almost directly chuck it into a program like Robot or start coding on Matlab. It seems like they don’t really analyze it themselves at any point.

Right, let’s get into the courses.

Smart, Connected & Liveable Cities has probably been my favorite course. I really enjoyed the broad scope of it and how it made me think about what I value in a city. I enjoyed how different it was in its outline compared to most of the courses I have studied throughout university. The final coursework which consisted of writing a short story about a dystopian future for a city we also wrote a report on was challenging as I, personally , hadn’t done such a thing since like 11th grade of high school. Though different, it made sense why we were given this assignment as it made you think critically about the values of a city, how it functioned etc. The field trips that were part of this course was also a nice as it let me see certain parts of Copenhagen I hadn’t been to before.
I ended up being quite disappointed by Building Energy – Technical Services and Integrated Design. I had hoped it would have been a course where I would’ve learnt about building environment in combination with an energy modeling program but it ended up solely focusing on learning how to use the computer program. It was just not interesting at all, with the lectures just going through certain issues you might run into when using the program instead of teaching us about the subject. I was also placed in a really bad group in this class with none of my group members having any real experience in building environment or building design in general. As I was the only one with any experience of using design programs such as Sketchup or CAD, I ended up doing the architectural bits of the project while others dedicated time to the program and creating the building in it. This created a problem, as a few days before the final hand-in when going through the energy model I noticed they had created a building with 1.5m thick walls! I managed to halve the thicknesses but it was still very thick walls. I couldn’t really trust the engineering judgment of my group members. To summarize, what I thought would be a building environment design project ended up solely focusing on a piece of software, which at least in the UK is not widely used. There was apparently a 10 credit course similar to this called Sustainable Buildings which sounded better and more interesting (although from some I’ve heard it was also a bit useless) which might have been better.

Building Energy was still not as disappointing as Bridge Structures however. As I described in my first post, it started out quite well but as it went on just got worse and worse. Elliot and I didn’t really learn much new and within the fields new to us, not much was learnt as the teaching was really bad. Throughout the course the teacher was very distant, you could just tell he didn’t care. The only reading material we were given was a textbook which he was a co-author on. This book was really bad, as it went deep into the maths of bridges, with pages full of complicated equations that were never actually explained. Most of the courseworks for the class consisted of finding some obscure equation in this book, and then trying to work out what each symbol actually meant, instead of actually testing our understanding of bridges. This was especially true for the last coursework on dynamic loading of bridges, which became a test of our mathematical abilities instead of engineering abilities. The teacher assumed we had done dynamic loading before. As we hadn’t, the coursework was basically impossible to do. The tutorials, where we could get help, were also pretty useless as there was only one assistant there to help 100 students. This meant just sitting around for 2 hours to try and get help, which we didn’t manage for this particular coursework. We also tried to get in touch with the lecturer to get help but he never responded to us and was never in his office. We also never got any feedback on the coursework, so throughout the course we had no idea if we were actually doing things correctly.
The exam was equally as bad. It was an oral exam where Elliot and I were examined together. This exam was really unpleasant. I’ve had oral exams before and I’ve found them really good as it’s usually a quite relaxed atmosphere where the teachers are there to guide you, helping you show as much of your knowledge as you can. This was not the case for this exam. It mostly involved the teachers pitting me and Elliot against each other, when one of us answered a question they would always ask the other one if they agreed with the answer creating doubt. They also asked us very technical questions, such as moduli of various types of cables. In the end we were given a 7, which we thought was low as we had still been able to answer most questions etc. It turned out it was because we hadn’t done well on the dynamic loading coursework, this was infuriating as we had tried to seek assistance countless times and so on.
We ended up filing a complaint about this exam and the course as we felt we had not been treated fairly and had not actually been tested on our understanding of bridges. Looking at the feedback from other students, it’s clear we weren’t the only ones. There were a lot of complaint about the teacher and his behavior such as sitting on his phone, checking mails etc. during the examinations and in some cases even walking out midway through certain peoples’.
I would definitely not recommend this course.

Daylight and Lighting Design was a course I was very happy with and recommend to anyone doing Architectural Engineering or is particularly interested in lighting design, as me. In the end, I ended up learning how to use Velux Daylight Visualizer, DIALux and Daysim. The course also taught me how to use SketchUp well. The only thing I would say for anyone interested is that this course is very computer reliant. All these programs are PC only, which meant I had to run them on Bootcamp for Mac which was a bit complicated. There were also a lot of cases where, as some of these programs are still a bit buggy, the programs would not work and people therefore had a lot of problems completing the courseworks. There’s a computer room on campus with these programs installed but apparently there were a lot of difficulties with those computers as well.
The exam for this course was quite easy. I asked the teacher about this, as I thought that this course was evaluated 100% exam. It turns out he only used the exam as a formal check just to make sure people were not simply copying other peoples’ courseworks. The majority of the grade was based on the courseworks. Again, no feedback was given the coursework which was annoying, but that is about the only bad thing I can say about that course. I really enjoyed it.

In the end, I quite enjoyed Energy & Sustainability. The teaching was not very good, so it relied a lot on the subject being self-taught. When reading it on your own, I found the subject really interesting. The biggest negative about the course was that it was way too much work for 5 credits, with two large pieces of coursework. I described the first assignment in my previous blog, so I won’t write about it again. The second assignment was less work heavy and consisted of performing a lifecycle assessment on a combination of renewable energy systems. We then had to create a poster about this. Our group won a prize for ours. This was one of the few modules where I was happy with my group.
The exam for this course was quite bizarre. It was an electronic exam which meant the exam was taken and answered on your laptop you brought to the exam hall. It was pretty much like taking a written exam but more annoying as it would take ages to type out equations etc. I didn’t see any point in having the exam be electronic as there were no really complicated calculations or real need to use Excel.
To summarize, for this course you do need a real prior interest in sustainability and the environment as the teachers do not really get you enthusiastic about it. I enjoyed it and I do think engineers should take courses like these as an understanding about the taught topics are, in my opinion, really important and a I would expect an even heavier focus on sustainability to become more common in the building industry.

Finally, I also took a 3-week intensive course in January called Environmental Engineering in Developing Countries. This was a very enjoyable course, very different from what we’re used to back in Bath. At the beginning of the course, we were assigned groups and a location either in India or Tanzania that we were going to act as an NGO for and provide sanitation and water supply solutions. What was good about this course was that it was very hands-on. This was largely down to being assigned a real location where we were intervening and that we were really acting as a real NGO. Be warned however that these 3-week courses are very intense, with normal working hours being 9-5 every day. Everyday basically consisted of a short lecture in the morning followed by groupwork for the rest of the day. The first two weeks were spent on coming up with what sanitation and water supply solutions were the most suitable and economical for our area. The final week was spent drafting an application for funding to carry the project, giving an impression of what work within an NGO is really like. It was also really enlightening to talk with the teacher and assistants about the personal experiences of work both in the project areas or elsewhere such as South Sudan.
This course was made available to both bachelor and master students meaning the level of English was not always great as bachelor students are taught in Danish. Everyone in my group were bachelor students. As I speak Swedish we ended up just speaking Danish within the group and gave me some good language practice. I got along really well with the group, the only downside was that none of the others were used to writing in English which meant I ended up proofreading and rewriting other peoples’ sections in the reports we produced.
These courses also seemed much less formal than normal ones as you see the same group of people everyday for three weeks straight. During the first day the lecturer brought his guitar and played a song as part of his presentation and he also arranged a course party during the first week which I sadly couldn’t attend but heard it was good fun.

Lastly, one thing I would like to also talk about is hteir feedback system which was quite different from back in Bath and seemed to be quite an important thing for DTU with teachers taking the feedback very seriously. We were asked to halfway through and at the end of a course to evaluate it and provide feedback, not very different from Bath. What was different however was feedback sessions were held during lectures, summarizing the received feedback, creating a open discussion between lecturer and students where they could voice their opinion. I really enjoyed this as I felt we as students had more say in how things were done, it felt as we had a much greater impact on the course. I felt this also us as students care more about the course and our education.

 

Changing Tracks

  

📥  Department of Mechanical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

 

This second blog is later than I had planned, mainly due to the hectic month I have just finished with the Asset & Operational Support team. Four months have flown by, and so too did my time within the team at Canary Wharf. The past four weeks have been a bit of a blur, trying to finish off as many of my projects as possible before the handover to the next Year in Industry student at the start of February.

One of my major projects that I managed to rush to completion before the end of my time was the testing of various protective wrappings for the axles of the trailer cars on the Victoria Line 2009 tube stock. A complete train is made up of 2 units, with each unit composed of 4 cars:

The DM, or Driving Motor, car.

The T, or Trailer, car.

The NDM, or Non-Driving Motor, car.

The SNDM, or Special Non-Driving Motor, car.

The trailer car, being the only car in the unit without four traction motors, has a far more exposed undercarriage than the other cars in the unit. The axles are therefore far more exposed and at risk to impact from debris and litter on the track. In order to mitigate some of the damage caused by impacts such as these, and to extend the service life of these axles, they are covered in protective wrappings that also serve as protection against corrosion.

Recently it has been found that Pandrol Clips, the metal clips that are used to secure the rail to the sleepers, are occasionally snapping and striking the axle. Impact craters deeper than 0.5mm are cause for scrapping an axle therefore there is a lot of interest in any wrapping that could be applied to extend their lifespan.

The test I designed focused on replicating the impact of a track clip striking the axle when the train is moving at top speed, which is limited to 80km/h during service on the Victoria line. Attaching a section of track clip to a secure mounting bracket and attaching this to the end of a weighted pendulum arm we spent a day striking the various wrappings we had covered the axle in. These included a thin ‘Solotape’ wrapping that is currently used, which ultimately came out as our recommendation going forward

Unfortunately I was unable to finish one of my others major design projects, but I am pleased to come away from my time with the AOS team with a nice portfolio of work to my name.

Following my four months with the AOS team I have now moved to the Integrated Stations programme, part of the Capital Programme’s Directorate. This is the second part of the yearlong plan of experiencing work within the track, rolling stock and stations teams within TFL.

 

Post Five: End of Exchange

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

I think it would only be correct to write an overall summary of being a part of an exchange scheme. I would say overall I had a excellent time, I made some great friends and learnt a lot whilst at the University. Although I complained quite a bit about the accommodation, it was quite poor, it was however good to live in college dormitory with my friends, probably the main reason I stayed. It is nice to live with thirty or so friends and a chance to create a friends group. One of my concerns moving to Denmark was that it would be difficult to make friends but this definitely was not the case and was assisted by the living. It’s probably worth pointing out, I did not meet a single English person at the University. There were a few, maybe three, in the rugby club. There are a lot of Spanish, Germans and Norwegians, and Danish (obviously), but they are all good fun and friendly none the less.

However, a few negatives whilst being on exchange. I had zero grasp of the language, I tried but failed.  The language is not too hard to read but to speak is incredibly difficult. I would try and say the basics but it would result in a volley of Danish back and I would have to say ‘Sorry, I can only speak English’. Although not a huge problem as every Dane I met spoke perfect English, I could not understand anything going on around me, which feels a little strange for six months. The other slight negative is that the exchange is in the final year, it is worth quite a lot of to my overall degree and is quite a risk. I ‘think’ I have good grades overall but we shall see in due course. Overall this means that you do actually have to work and work quite hard at that. I would describe the work load similar to second semester third year.

I thought it would be good to briefly talk about some misconceptions. Everyone I spoke to before coming out here said either ‘the weather is awful’ or ‘its very expensive’. Yes it is expensive, the prices are similar to Bath or London. However, careful budgeting should deal with this just fine. On a side note, I am writing this post on my flight back to England, the flight cost 39dkk (£3.90!!) (standard airfare), so at least the international transport is cheap. The weather being awful is not exactly true. I would generally say the weather is better than in England. There are long periods of clear skies and sunny weather, followed by shorter periods of bad weather. However, when it does rain, it really rains. Equally, January was cold, lows of -15deg at night and -10deg during the day. This meant that we got a lot of snow!

With respect to the teaching at DTU, it is a little hit and miss. Some lecturers are great and are always willing to help and spend extra time trying to help. Some are less so. The content of lectures are a little different, with most lectures requiring a lot of pre-reading in order for the lecture to make sense. Also, it is probably worth mentioning that what you expect in a course from the course description is not the same as what is taught or the style of teaching. This can make starting at the University a little confusing.

In conclusion, I would say if you are willing to try out something a bit different to Bath, meet new people, live in an amazing city and cycle a lot (!) I would highly recommend the exchange. Please read the previous posts as they give more of an idea about the teaching and learning. Sorry I did not post more! If you want more information about my experience living abroad please do not hesitate to contact me. My email is eann20@bath.ac.uk or social media. I hope these posts helped!

 

End of Exchange - Final Day

End of Exchange - Final Day

 

Post Four: January Course

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

The intensive January course sure did live up to the name, it was intensive. I took Environmental Engineering in Developing Countries as I have an interest in persuing some NGO work post-University. The course was split into  small teams and each team focused on an area in India or Africa. The course aimed to educate about hygiene and sanitation problems in those areas and was assessed by reports and an overall application for funding.

At the start I thought it would be great to only have one course and my sole focus was on that module, as did many feel the same way. However, after spending three weeks of just focusing on the design of a water project, I felt I needed a change. The course was very interesting and the lecturer very helpful, he even threw us a party on the first week and provided free drinks, in return we had to cook!

The work involved creating a technical report of our proposed solutions and subsequent reasonings and calculations. The technical report was further supplimented with three working papers. After the technical report, we had to produce a 15 page application for funding to a Danish Government Ministry. So quite a lot of work in total!

The lecturer also held a small competition for the best drawings, presentations and reports. Our team won one of the prizes for best drawing was awarded 200dkk (£20).  Bearing in mind we had just worked on a project in a area with low income, we decided to give our winnings to a charity working in the area.

I would say overall, I would highly recommend this course, however there is quite a lot of work to do but is a great chance to do something a little different and still apply our engineering knowledge.

 

Frozen Lakes - Peblinge Sø

Frozen Lakes - Peblinge Sø

 

Part time blogger, full time engineer

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

My first introductory post with some key points of my placement with BuroHappold Engineering in London.  

Hi! My name is Hanna and I am a Civil Engineering student on placement with BuroHappold in London. It’s been almost four months since I started my placement and a lot has been going on: moving to a new house, getting used to the London lifestyle and starting my first full-time job at an engineering practice. Hopefully this blog will give some insight into what one might expect from a year in industry, as well as life and work in London in general with a quick breakdown to follow.

The Company

I am working for the international professional services company BuroHappold Engineering, in their second biggest office in London, situated just off the tourist stuffed Oxford Street. With 24 locations and roughly 1500 employees worldwide, the company’s headquarters are situated in Bath. Being a multidisciplinary engineering consultancy, BuroHappold has several teams such as Infrastructure, Facades, Building Services and SMART Solutions operating in London. I am placed in the Structures team alongside roughly 80 other professionals.

 

 

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Our Newman Street office currently holds a gallery exhibition on Stratford

The Structures Department

BuroHappold is involved in a variety of projects from multi-million pound developments in the Middle-East to much more local projects for the community, such as the Burntwood School which recently won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. Therefore, the Structures department is divided into project teams with some of the engineers working on more than one project at a time.

The Structures team office floor in the spirit of Christmas

The Project

I have been assigned to work on the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Metro Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This station is planned as one of the major interchanges in the new Riyadh Metro network, with BuroHappold having been commissioned for work on eighteen disciplines, including Structural Engineering. Being a huge international project, BuroHappold is working alongside several other organisations, mainly the architects at Zaha Hadid.

 

An external and internal view of the planned Zaha Hadid designed KAFD Metro station with both images copyright of ZHA at http://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/king-abdullah-financial-district-metro-station/

So far, the project and the people I am working with have been my favourite part of my placement. Working on a huge international project, I have been able to gain an insight into how one liaises with clients, architects, contractors and other involved parties, as well as how the work of a multidisciplinary team all pulls together.

What is more, the London office has a buzzing social life with many talks, sports events, wine and cheese evenings and pub quizzes going on. All of this, together with the large number of young people and graduates, has made getting used to office life and getting to know my 400 co-workers very easy and fun.

Christmas jumper day in the office

I hope this short introductory post has given a general idea of what my placement is about! Stay tuned for more posts where I’m hoping to talk further about life in London, my project and what we get up to in the London office.

A snap from the London Christmas party

 

Post Three: Before Christmas

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hello,

I am very conscious that I have not posted for quite some time, I think it would be best to provide a general overview of the exchange programme and elaborate a little on each module, explaining a little about the course.

Following my last post we had a one week semester break in October to relax a little after the first 6 weeks. There was a great event on the last day of term called Kulturnatten where the city was opened up and you could visit places that are normally closed to the public, for example Parliament, military bases or the UN Head Office. The city was full and there was free food on open fire pits, free drinks on boats and street parties. The event ran from 3pm to 5am and was an excellent way to see another side of the city and see attractions you would not normally see. I decided to spend  the remainder of the break to visit the city some more and catch up on my work.

The second half of the term however was very intensive with multiple hand ins each week, mid term exams and many presentations. I would describe the work load as rather heavy and gave little time to really appreciate the exchange. The final three weeks of term were especially difficult with exams and coursework ongoing at the same time. Thankfully I finished on the 18th December and a group of friends came over to visit (the flight cost 50dkk or £5 each, very cheap). The one key benefit of exams before the Christmas break was that there was no work to be completed over the holiday. It was a time to rest and recuperate before the intensive January course.... and visit the Christmas Market.

Christmas Market

 

I also played rugby for DTU 1st XV later in the term in the last game of the season. We played a team called Hundested, a team in the North of the island. They were top of 1st division and we were playing in the quarter finals. I played in the second row position for the full game (I am not built for that). The final score was unfortunately 3-64 to Hundested. We were taught a lesson and took quite a battering unfortunately. I had an okay game and put in some good tackles and made a few good runs but this was not good enough to change the score line. In my opinion, joining the rugby club was a great decision as I got to meet a lot of new people and play sport as part of a team. Although I did pick up a few injuries, it was great social and great fitness.

I will go through each of the modules explain what I thought about each, in no particular order.

Transport, Economics, Planning, Organisation and policy

Although the title is a bit long winded, it was an excellent management module and made me really think about policy implementation. The module was focused around a central piece of coursework, about 15,000 words in length, with lectures from people in industry. Lecturers included CEO's of public bodies, Operations Directors and senior researchers. Although not strictly civil engineering it was still a really good module to understand the processes and difficulties in implementing policies. We also got the chance to go to the Danish Parliament and see areas closed to the public, in addition, we also had a two hour meeting with the current Transport Minister.

 

Danish Parliment

 

Smart Connected Liveable Cities

Probably my favourite module. The module focused on urban planning and the various sections that need to be considered in the design of a city. The course was rather 'holistic' and used slightly different methods of assessment than normal. There were six small courseworks that were completed generally in class. There was one reading assignment, where we had to review a utopian or dystopian book. We also had a writing assignment where we had to right a short story, 5000 words, about the development and growth of a city in the next 100 years. The story had to incorporate all the values taught earlier in the course. We also had a number of visits to various parts of the Copenhagen region. These were also very interesting and aided the learning intentions of the course. I would highly recommend this course!

Fire Structural Design

Fire structural design is exactly as it sounds. The design of various structural elements under a fire load, applying eurocode and including the Danish and Swedish annex. The module builds upon what is taught in structures 1,2 and 3 plus structural design and construction but not too heavily. All is explained well and the supplementary notes and textbook are very helpful. Although the tutorials were very difficult and took quite some time to understand, if you do take this course persevere with the tutorials, you will get there! The lecturer was very good and has appeared on National Geographic a number of times. The module was not too difficult and developed my structural engineering skills. I would recommend this course!

Water Resources Management
Water resources management was probably by far the hardest and least satisfying module. The module focused on solving water shortages on the North China Plain.  The coursework was centred around matlab programming at a much higher level than that I had been taught, using optimisation operators within a dynamic script linked with a function for over 25 variables. We received quite a lot of assistance but this did not really help in producing a quality piece of work.

The mid term exam was equally not good as it was negatively marked. Overall I would say to a prospective Bath student to avoid this module. There is little or nothing taught at Bath that relates to this module. It greatly sapped any time that I had and I spent nearly every day working on the programmes.

Bridge Engineering

I would unfortunately say that this class is on the same level as water resources management. The course was poorly explained, examination method was highly unfair and no help provided. I hoped that this module would develop on what was taught at Bath by Mark but did little to develop our bridge engineering skills. The courseworks focused upon our ability to plug numbers into complex equations to provide an answer that had little or no meaning. Equally, I would avoid this course.

Apologies for the two bits of negativity but I feel it is important to explain the course. I am in the process of completing an intensive January course. I will post an overall review of exchange in the next fortnight or so.

 

Engineer in Training

  

📥  Department of Mechanical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

Tucked away by the river, in one of the UK’s two major financial centres, you would be forgiven for not expecting Canary Wharf to be home to nearly 1,300 engineers, working for Transport for London to keep London moving.

My name is Ben and, halfway through the first of my three, four-month, placements within TFL, I am currently working with the AOS engineering team, focusing on Rolling Stock (the trains themselves). The AOS, Asset & Operational Support, team provide engineering support for London Underground Rolling Stock. This covers emergency response, large maintenance programmes, and long-term reliability improvements.

So far I have mainly been involved with the reliability improvements, with a couple design projects thrown in for good measure. I’ll go into these in more detail in future posts, and this will be more of an introductory blog.

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Engineering with a view

Induction overview

Starting in mid-September, it was a longer summer for me than many of those out on placement this year, with some having two months of work experience under their belts before I began the first of my two weeks of training we had to go through before we could begin actual work.

Previous grads have described these introductory weeks as death by PowerPoint, with presentations ranging from the experiences of previous grads to the various trade unions we will encounter crammed into the first week. Integrated with all of those on the Grad Scheme, the out of office events were the highlight of the first two weeks.

Networking is a term that you will hear bandied about just about everywhere nowadays, and TFL is no exception. A networking event held at the Transport Museum in Covent Garden gave us a chance early on to meet our placement sponsors and mentors, as well as hear from Mike Brown, commissioner of the company. This was followed by the one and only open bar TFL holds each year, providing a great opportunity to get to know the other students on placement, whilst ensuring you weren’t making too much of a fool of yourself in front of the various senior staff in attendance!

A visit to Mayor’s Questions proved surprisingly eventful, with rowdy Black cab drivers forcing the Chair to clear the chamber, as well as call in the Riot Police. Escorted out of a back exit, covering anything that would identify us as an employee of TfL, this was not how I envisaged my first few days of work to pan out. The remaining week of induction events was relatively dull in comparison, but served the useful purpose of both introducing us to the inner workings of the company, and allowing us to settle into our new routine before the work began.

Placement schedule

As I mentioned earlier, the Year in Industry with TFL is split into three individual parts, with the idea of allowing us to see as much of the company as possible within our time here. Once I have completed my time here within rolling stock I will spend four months working within stations & infrastructure, and then four within a track department, getting a more hands on experience to the engineering here.

Once the introductions were over, and most of the names promptly forgotten, I sat down with my manager and a couple of members of the team to go through my initial projects. My first long term project involved issuing a Change to Rolling Stock, CRS, along with the calculations and proof required before it can be authorised by the fleet manager, and the procedure implemented onto the network.

My other major project involves designing a bracket to mount a data logger within the equipment box that hangs below the train.

Stem events

Finished by five every day, I find myself with a lot more spare time than I had back in Bath. This has given me the chance to attend a couple of talks at the IMechE in the last few weeks, finally making use of that free membership we all have. Whilst not sounding like the most gripping of subjects, the most recent, ‘The Art of Boarding and Alighting: Designing Trains and Stations to Ensure Safety and Efficiency’ gave a surprisingly interesting overview of the engineering behind maximising the efficiency of the metro system, as well as the psychology behind the design choices involved.

As part of our placement objectives set by the company we have been encouraged to take part in a number of STEM events with local schools, ‘inspiring the next generation of engineers.’ The morning involved assisting with a ‘braking eggsperiment,’ I was a fan as soon as I saw the pun, an activity that involved the kids, a mix of years 8 & 9, safely transporting an egg down a constructed track, stopping it safely at the platform.

The afternoon was spent being interviewed by groups of 5 or 6, a surprisingly tough activity when they run out of questions 5 minutes into a 15 minute interview, leaving me to freestyle on an industry I had spent all of 5 weeks in at the time. Whilst I may not have convinced all the doubters to turn to a life of engineering, I had a great time, and so did the kids judging by the feedback after the event.

As this is intended to be a monthly blog this will be my one and only until the new year so, until then, have a happy Christmas and New Year.

 

The Scoop on Ice Cream R&D...

  

📥  Department of Chemical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

Hi everyone! My name is Clodagh and I’m now almost six months into my year-long placement with Unilever, working as Process Development Technologist within the Ice Cream Category. My role involves working on a number of short-term projects both alone and in a team, with the overall aim to apply an engineering approach to develop, evaluate, and improve processes used to make ice cream across the company.

My day-to day attire!

My day-to day attire!

Settling In…

As for most, the thought of leaving the security of university and starting a full-time job was very daunting. However, thinking back now to what I anticipated a workplace to be like, I could not have been more wrong! I quickly learnt that the ‘real world’ wasn’t quite as intimidating as I expected it to be; not once did I get laughed at for asking a silly question or for getting lost in the offices. Instead, I was greeted with a smile from everyone I met or passed by, and quickly felt like part of the team.

My first week with Unilever was spent taking part in the Ice Cream Technology Course, a training week run annually, which is aimed at newcomers to the category. This meant I gained vital knowledge on every area within the Ice Cream category, as well as having the chance to network with many others based in Ice Cream across the globe.

One thing that surprised me most during my first week – and still surprises me up until today – is how much time and effort goes into the development and production of an ice cream!

Gelato Flavour Profiling

One of my main projects so far has been based on the flavour profiling of a premium gelato company. Seeing as gelato products are so focussed on flavour delivery, this work was important in establishing the flavour profile of current products, as well as seeing how this compares to competitor products.

This was a very technically challenging project, which involved running trials in the pilot plant here at Colworth, as well as analysing the flavour profiles of samples using Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry. This project taught me that even if the work you are given is not something you have directly learnt about at university, you have to apply the skills you have and use your initiative to research and learn about a whole new area of study.

My biggest achievement so far on placement was a result of this project – the huge improvement in my presentation skills. After only ever presenting once at University, I was always very nervous at the thought of having to stand in front of a big group and present alone, but practice makes perfect! After a number of smaller presentations, I was trusted to present my findings to Supply Chain, an important customer of the Ice Cream category, and to a Senior VP in the company.

Life in Bedford

During my placement year, I am living in Bedford - a relatively small town around 60 miles north of London. Getting used to living in a new town where you don’t know anyone is always difficult, but by joining clubs outside of work meant it didn’t take me long to feel at home.

One of the best things about working full-time is having weekends to yourself – with no guilty thoughts that you should be finishing that assignment for university – so I try to make the most of them! I like to spend my weekends exploring the local area and visiting friends all over the country.

 

First post from DTU in Copenhagen

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Author: Adam Engstrom


Hi there! My name is Adam and this will be my first entry about my time on Erasmus at DTU in Copenhagen. I decided to give my stay some time before posting my first time so I had a better idea and impression of my stay so far both at and outside of university.

Best place to start is probably our Introduction Week at university. This week was sort of like a Freshers week for all international and Erasmus to get to know each other. We were split into groups and paired with a "buddy", a current student who is there to offer guidance throughout our stay. During this week we got familiar with the layout of campus, sorting out things like residence permits and seeing Copenhagen. Most of these days ended with a couple of beers if people were up for it, which I would suggest you do.

buddy group My Buddy Group

This week was a lot of fun, though never got really crazy. That we got assigned a buddy for the entire semester is really good. My buddy is a lot of fun and has organised events for us all to join in nearly every week, such as dinners and parties on campus. My buddy group has not been keen on every event, which is a shame, but can't fault my buddy for trying. The only thing about this week that was a bit of a shame was that it didn't really allow for us to get to meet the rest of the people living in our dorm, like you would at Freshers where you hang out with your housemates for a week.

In terms of housing, Elliot, the other civil engineer from Bath, and I share a room in the dorm Hyrdevangen 9. Sharing a room is not ideal but we make it work. The block in itself is quite nice although it's missing a good big social space to hang out with other students. The university is a little over 10 km North and the center of Copenhagen being at most 5km away. I normally cycle to university but there is otherwise a bus stop really close by which will take you about 40 mins to get to campus. The only issue with public transport is the price, I would say, with a return journey to campus running you about 50 dkk or £5. It would have been fun to live at one of the campus dorms but being close to the city center also has its perks.

I will now talk a little about how I find my courses. At Bath, I study civil & architectural engineering but while here, I chose courses that I thought looked interesting and a bit different from what was being taught back at the home university. I study Bridge Structures, Daylighting & Lighting Design, Building Services - Integrated Design, Energy & Sustainability and Smart, Connected and Liveable Cities. I will then participate in a 3-week course in January called Environmental Engineering in Developing Countries.

Bridge Structures is quite a good course, with bits of knowledge being added to what was previously taught in year 3. Building Services is a 100% coursework module, where in groups we have to design a new low-energy teaching block meant to be situated on campus. This also quite interesting, since we learn how to use the energy modelling program IDA. These lectures usually consists of a 2-hour group work/tutorial before having a lecture. These lectures can be a bit dull as they usually center around how to use the design software. I am really interested in lighting design so I was very excited about doing a course solely centered on it. I don't really have much to say about this course, I'm enjoying it. It's set up so we have a 1-2 hour lecture and are then given a tutorial to do, learning how to use various lighting design programs. The only "problem" is that it is taught on a Friday afternoon, meaning friends will start meeting up at the student bars before your lecture finishes.

My two other courses are quite different from what is taught in Bath. In Energy & Sustainability  we have been taught about the principles of sustainability and how various climatic systems are affected by global warming, renewable energy sources and will later be taught about life-cycle assessments. The subjects, taught in themselves, have been really interesting as the environment and a sustainable future is something I really care about. Unfortunately, the course is not taught particularly well and is a lot of work. It used to be a 10 credit course and has been made into a 5 credit course but the workload doesn't really reflect this. For this course, we have had to write a group report where envisaged a better future and determined steps to realize this vision.  Although our group got on really well, I was not overly impressed by the effort some of my teammates put into it. Nevertheless, I would suggest this course, or a similar one called Feasibility of Renewable Energy Systems, for all engineers. Either because, like me they're already interested in this topic or to just get the mindset of always striving for a sustainable design/future.

So far, my favorite course has probably been Smart, Connected and Liveable Cities. I expected this course to be about city-planning and quite technical but was suprised to find that it was something completely different. The course is more philosophical and tries to answer the question of makes a city great (or even a city). I really enjoy the broad scope of this module, where one week we talk about waste management and the other alternative transport systems. The classes are quite interactive, where we usually have to prepare and present a topic during a lecture. The assignments are also quite different from what we're used to. We have to write a book report on a novel depicting a dystopian future and will also have to write a short story about our own created dystopia.

If you haven't already noticed, the teaching methods and lecture setups are quite different. Lectures run from 8-12 and 13-17 but usually only half of this time is assigned to a lecture, with the rest assigned to tutorials where students from the past year are around to help out. I'm not a huge fan of the 8am starts as even though if I don't have a lecture in the afternoon I'm usually exhausted and struggle to get much work done afterwards. When picking modules, their teaching times are already included which means you have to pick modules which creates a schedule with no clashes. This is easier said than done. I am quite happy with my final schedule, I have Tuesdays off and lie-ins on Thursdays and Fridays. You're also expected to do much more reading on your own than is usually expected back in Bath, with teachers posting loads of material which you're expected to read before the next lecture. It is of course not obligatory but definitely makes you understand the next lecture better.

I think that's enough about university for now. So now I will write a little about my impressions outside of study.

First thing you have to do when moving here is to get a bike. It is by far the best way to get around and the best way to see the city. There is a used bike sale up at DTU during the first week, which is where I got mine. You won't find a race bike or similar at these sales but you will find reliable and sturdy bikes which you can return to the seller when moving and get at least half of what you paid for it back. Biking makes it super-easy to nip into town or go to campus.

So far, I'm really enjoying Copenhagen as a city. It has a very relaxed feel to it with loads of things to visit and see. It has probably helped that I already knew some locals before moving here who I have been meeting up with quite a lot who have shown me some of the cooler, less touristy spots. I am Swedish but have not lived there since I was three so living in a Scandinavian country is an exciting experience. In terms of language, I usually get by speaking in Swedish. Otherwise most people speak English.

Social life on campus is very different from Bath. Of course, you don't have to drink to have fun but I seriously suggest that if you go here you do enjoy it. The university culture is heavily centered around drinking beer with campus having up to ten different bars, situated inside departmental buildings, meaning you can do bar crawls during a night without having to even leave campus! It is quite strange that it is normal to have bars open right next to lecture rooms and it being acceptable for students to be passed in hallways or bringing in beers to lectures. These bars are always really cheap as well, usually about 3£ for four beers and every last friday of the month they have clearance and all beers cost 50p each. They love a drink here, with sessions usually starting at just past noon and going into the early hours of morning, so you do need to pace yourself!

There are lots of events for Erasmus students to take part in with societies like the ESN organizing loads of trips to place like Norway, Lappland and within Denmark. These trips are often during term time however and as our grades count while we're here can't afford to take a week off.

I spend a lot of my free time doing sports. The university has some clubs but comes nowhere near offering the same variety as in Bath. They don't have a floorball team so I have joined a local team who trains just around the corner from the dorm. I would definitely recommend doing some form of sport as it's a great way to meet new people and also practice Danish. I've played quite a few matches since starting which has been loads of fun. The only shame has been that these matches have been on Sundays which has meant sitting out dorm parties which are usually on Saturdays meaning I've not gotten to know our neighbors as much as I'd like to.

I think that's all I have to say for now, so far I'm enjoying my time here but hope to see even more of the city as I have not done all the touristy things yet.

 

 

Post Two: One Month In

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

This first month has gone really quickly and I have been very busy.  The modules have stepped up a level and Adam and I have a fair amount of coursework on the go.

Teaching & Education

I am aware that I did not expand on this in the previous post. The lecture structure is different to that at Bath. Each module has an assigned 4hour block, 8am-12pm or 1pm-5pm. I am unlucky that I have 8am's every morning except Tuesdays, resulting in a 6am wake up. The lecture period consists of two hours teaching and two hours tutorial/coursework. Most lectures we have to present work from the previous weeks work to the others in the class or present the tutorial to the lecturer for review.

We are expected to work about 40hours a week, so generally I have lectures at 8am-12pm and work until 6pm in the library. The work load and level is little higher than that at Bath, however sometimes it is really difficult to try and work out what the lecturer is asking for in questions and coursework.

I would say the most difficult module I am undertaking is Water Resources Management, it is a mainly matlab course at a higher level that what I have previously completed at Bath. Having said that, there are many on the course who had never even opened matlab.

Yesterday I went on a field trip at ARC or Amager Bakke, a waste incinerator on the outskirts of Copenhagen. We went around the plant and then visited the new plant being constructed. The plant receives most of the unrecycled waste from the surrounding communities of Copenhagen and burns the waste to produce energy and district heating to the city. The new plant features a new incinerator with a ski slope on the roof and a climbing wall up the side (the highest in Europe), it is also much more 'environmentally friendly' than the current plant. See pictures below.

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Extra Curricular

I have joined the rugby club as it is one of the few clubs that appealed to me. The university offers; sailing, basketball, football, rugby, tennis, rock climbing and scuba diving. I joined the rugby club, having not played for many years, to be part of a team and to meet others outside of the course. I have been selected for the 1st XV and have my first match this weekend. There is a social most weeks which revolves around the Rugby World Cup at the moment. The club is made up of students and professionals in Copenhagen and other Universities.

Social Events

Every week there are parties on campus. At the start of term we had Sensommerfest, this party by my terms was massive, filling six marquees and five surrounding bars and over 1000 students, costing only £2. There was a bar crawl around campus before the party. There are about 15 bars on campus, each department building has a bar run by the students, all serving cheap drinks, 4øl for £3.

The Sunday after Sensommerfest, a group of us from our buddy group took part in the Nordic equivalent of Tough Mudder, Nordic Race. It was a 5km race, mostly swimming in rivers and the sea and running on the beach. It was fairly tough as the weather was poor and the North Sea was freezing! We took a while to get round the course however we did come in the top 40%.

Last week was Oktoberfest and Trappe. Trappe was an event outside one of the buildings which had 40 steps. Every step you had to drink a beer (this is an official event)(see picture below). It was then a race up the stairs, a groups of students took part in the event, in total there were 400 students who took part. I went to Oktoberfest instead where they were serving 50p pints.

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The slightly strange thing about the events here is that they are all in the department, not a nightclub or the equivalent of The Plug/Tub. So Oktoberfest was in the Civil Engineering department with over 1000 students  partying in the equivalent of the crit room (a much larger room was needed clearly).

Less about parties/drinking, we are working hard!!

I think thats most of it! We are still having a bit of fun sorting out our accommodation but we are slowly making progress!