Find out more about our student diary writer Maria Felice and her love of engineering.
Engineering. This is the answer I give people when they ask me what I am studying. It is nearly always followed by "What type?", as their face beings to show a mix of surprise and admiration. "Mechanical Engineering", I say as their look of surprise and admiration develops. Sometimes they say "wow", sometimes "I heard that's very difficult", and sometimes they look extremely surprised and say "there aren't many girls doing that, are there?"
I don't think I have ever been met with an emotionless, dry answer such as "ok" in the three years that I have been answering these questions, and I love this. I am now counting down the days to being able to say I'm an engineer when people ask me what my job is.
Since I was very little I have always loved maths. Really loved it. The problem (when it came to career choices) was that I liked a lot of other subjects and was good at them too. When I was little I wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to help sick people and because I thought that only boys could become doctors. I soon realised that I could become a doctor and spent the next few years yo-yoing between doctor, nurse and science/maths teacher.
At age 12 I had to choose my three non-compulsory O level subjects. I wanted to do biology, chemistry and something else. My mum suggested that the something else be physics because that would help to keep my options open. Very good advice.
Two years later I had to choose my two A level subjects. Dilemma! I could not possibly do biology, chemistry, physics and maths, although that is what I really wanted to do, so I chose physics and maths. I can't even remember what made me make the final decision. I think it was ultimately a love of the subjects, especially maths - a subject which I hardly ever had any difficulty with and enjoyed so much.
I began to think about what I wanted to do at university. I had to choose between the following five options: Maths and Statistics, Maths and Physics, ICT, Architecture and Civil Engineering and Engineering. I have to admit that I chose engineering by elimination. Architecture and civil engineering was eliminated because I am very weak at creative drawing, IT was eliminated because the stereotypical IT professional freaks me out (sorry!) and despite encouragement from my maths teachers to continue maths I eliminated this option because of fear of it being too pure and theoretical.
The doctor/nurse/teacher person in me who wanted to work with many types of people and make a tangible difference in the world preferred engineering. However, don't get me wrong, I truly admire and value the work that pure scientists do and I believe that their work is the starting point of engineering.
So engineering it was. In my first semester I studied both mechanical and electrical and then chose to continue mechanical because I preferred the subjects. I am now in my fourth and final year of the B. Eng. (Hons.) degree at the University of Malta in Msida, I would definitely exceed my word limit if I had to write about all I have done. They have been very tough yet enjoyable years.
I have studied a mix of mechanical, manufacturing and materials engineering and some electrical engineering topics together with programming, maths and statistics. The first two years of my degree seemed more like a continuation of maths and physics A level as opposed to engineering, but now the content is more and more focused and everything we have learnt in previous years seems to be coming together very nicely.
I thoroughly enjoy lab sessions and the practical side of engineering but unfortunately have not had much experience of this - apart from an amazing six weeks crash course at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology during my first summer.
I look forward to a successful career that will see me working in an exciting, fast-paced environment. I want to have a job that requires the geeky and very technical aspects of what I have studied. I am also excited about working with new people and in new places. Next time round instead of choosing engineering by elimination I will choose it because I love it.