Nesma Al-Shaikhly, University of Leeds electronics and nanotechnology MEng student

A passion for physics led Nesma to this MEng, where she’s designed an iPhone app, written breathaliser code and worked in cleanrooms. Accepted on the Study Abroad program, she now plans to spend a year studying in California.

Nesma Al-Shaikhly Nesma is currently in her second year of studying an MEng in electronics and nanotechnology at the University of Leeds. She really enjoyed studying physics at school, especially when she started learning about particle physics in the sixth form. With this in mind she felt engineering would provide the perfect opportunity to study physics but also get hands-on in applying what you learn by designing and creating products and so chose to apply for this course.

Discovering what learning is like at university

When Nesma began university she was expecting the classroom learning style to follow on from high school, so was surprised to find how different the course was.

“I didn’t realise how much of each module would be backed up with laboratory sessions. This year my lab projects include designing an iPhone application, designing and writing code for a breathalyser and working in cleanrooms to perform photolithography on semiconductors.

“Having so much lab time really helps to create a well rounded engineer, who’s as comfortable with finding and fixing problems in actual devices as they are solving problems on paper,” she enthuses.

Benefits of IET student membership

Nesma joined the IET at the beginning of her first year at university.

“An IET representative visited our department and gave a presentation about the IET and what it had to offer undergraduate students. I registered for a three year student membership and am very glad I did.

“As a member of the IET I receive the monthly magazine Engineering and Technology, which enables me to stay informed about the latest improvements in all fields of engineering. There are articles relating back to events in the history of engineering and others that discuss the ethical issues affecting all engineering and research companies.

“A huge benefit of being an IET member is that you are kept informed of engineering conferences, talks and available internships,” she continues. “As an undergraduate deciding on a career path, it can really help to be guided to these opportunities.”

Achieving academic accolades

Although only in her second year, Nesma has already achieved several accolades. Last year she was featured on the Faculty of Engineering Dean’s List, which honours the top five per cent of students in the university’s Faculty of Engineering.

“This is something I was very proud of and hope to achieve again. I also received a BP scholarship, an IET grant and an award from my school called the Crabtree Award, awarded to one student in the faculty for outstanding achievement,” she highlights.

This year Nesma’s been accepted on the Study Abroad program and is currently applying to study at the University of California for the 2012/13 academic year.

“This was, in part, made possible by the IET grant I received in September 2011 for £1,000,” she says. “If I’m successful, I’ll study for a year at one of the Californian campuses majoring in electronic engineering.”

Future career plans

On completion of her MEng, Nesma hopes to begin a career in the research of bioelectronics.

“There are so many possibilities in this field which are only just being experimented with, such as using DNA and its ability to selectively adhere to other parts of DNA, in order to create connections in nanoscale circuits. Research in this area is cutting edge and to be a part of a project in this field would be highly stimulating and exciting,” she explains.