Parade Profile: Niloufar Saffari (MEng Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering 2023)

Posted in: Bath, Engineering & Design, International, Parade profiles, Postgraduate

Niloufar came to the University of Bath as a refugee from Iran and excelled in her mechanical and electrical engineering studies with support from a Gold Scholarship. Since graduating in summer 2023, Niloufar has been working as an electrical engineer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Here, she shares her experience as an international student at Bath and advice for future students.

A woman smiling

Why did you choose to study at Bath?

I chose the University of Bath for a few reasons. Firstly, the University's consistently high ranking and good reputation in engineering made me feel that I would receive a good standard of education.

The availability of scholarships and support at Bath made a big impact on my decision; I also believe it reflects well on the University that it has made a commitment to making quality education accessible.

Equally important was its strong connection to industry; I really liked the emphasis on practical skills and real-world applications, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for the workforce.

I had offers from many high-ranking universities, but Bath's excellent reputation, generous scholarship offerings, robust support systems, and strong industry connections made it an easy choice.

Did you have a particular career in mind when you chose your course?

To be honest, I struggled with the decision to choose a specific engineering branch. I had interests in both electrical and mechanical fields, so I opted for Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (IMEE) at Bath because it would provide some flexibility to explore both mechanical and electrical fields without restricting my focus.

This decision proved invaluable before I started at uni; I was biased towards mechanical, but as I progressed through my course, I discovered an interest in high voltage and industrial electrical engineering.

IMEE's adaptability allowed me to align my studies with emerging professional interests, shaping my career trajectory. Looking back, I'm grateful for the freedom to explore and grow without the constraints of a traditional engineering program.

Can you tell us about your experience of studying here? Any favourite memories or places on campus and in the city?

Bath is a lovely place to live. I chose to be here because I didn't want the hectic vibes of a city-based uni.

I really love the close-knit, compact nature of the campus. Having everything you need within a short walking distance is great. I am not going to lie; rolling out of bed and being at the first lecture within 15 minutes is a real bonus for all students.

My favourite activity was taking advantage of large open field around Bath and the University campus to look at the night sky with telescopes with group of friends.

A woman wearing a graduation cap and gown smiling in front of the University of Bath sign
Niloufar at her graduation in summer 2023

What was your experience as an international student studying in the UK? Do you have any advice for others?

Initially, it was challenging as I entered university as a refugee, feeling like a round peg in a square hole. The struggle stemmed from not sharing the same lived experiences as other international or domestic students, making it hard to find common ground.

However, the University demonstrated strong support and acknowledged that their systems didn't entirely align with my circumstances. They made a real effort to be flexible and adapt to my needs.

It's important to note that I arrived during a period of significant turmoil in the UK's relationship with the rest of the world. While some UK institutions were welcoming and supportive, others presented more challenges.

In offering advice, especially to international students but relevant to all, I emphasise that the University is genuinely interested in helping and supporting you. My suggestion is to reach out early if facing difficulties, and while patience is important, persistence is equally key.

Describe your career journey since graduating. What is a typical day like in your current role?

After graduating, I joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as an electrical engineer, initially through a scholarship program that led to a graduate scheme offer.

In my current role, I focus on high-voltage electrical systems for Fusion Technology research, collaborating with my team to ensure efficient operation.

A typical day involves working on systems generating energy for plasma formation in fusion experiments.

How did your studies help you to develop?

University studies laid the foundation for essential knowledge and, perhaps even more crucially, imparted the skill of learning itself.

Soft skills, including self-management, effective team communication, and resilience, are real assets in the professional realm.

The Gold Scholarship and Power Academy scholarship played a massive role in shaping my academic journey, offering avenues for skill development and valuable networking.

Engaging in summer placements with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, as part of the Power Academy scholarship, exposed me to the nuclear and fusion industry.

This experience gave me a head-start with my application process for graduate schemes, providing me with early assurance and confidence that boosted my final-year performance. The assurance alleviated stress and allowed me to channel my energy into focusing on my project.

What advice would you give to prospective students thinking about studying your course at Bath?

For those considering studying Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Bath, especially the master's courses, welcome the challenges that come with this program. It's a tough course, and you will encounter demanding points.

Acknowledge that grades are important, but don't forget to explore extracurriculars, competitions, scholarships, and summer placements for a well-rounded learning experience.

Maintain a manageable schedule, engage in activities you love, and be careful not to overload yourself. Enjoy the journey while keeping your eyes on the prize.

This is a challenging course, but in the end, you'll be well-prepared to slot into almost any engineering job because you've demonstrated flexibility and adaptability. Good Luck!

Posted in: Bath, Engineering & Design, International, Parade profiles, Postgraduate

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