Matthew's diary entry - Autumn 2012

Matthew runs through his university experience to date, what life is like as an IET Power Academy scholar, his first placement with sponsor company Rolls-Royce and starting his year in industry.

Matthew Nethercote at Rolls-Royce Plc In my introduction I gave you an insight into my love of all things engineering and how I ended up as an IET Power Academy scholar at Queens University Belfast (QUB). In my first diary entry for the IET, let me bring you up to date by giving you a run down of my university experience so far.

My first year at Queen’s

I loved my first year at Queen’s; I really took to university life and was determined to enjoy it as best I could. I instantly took to the course and found that my existing electronics knowledge was a massive help as it meant I’d a good grasp of the basic theory.

The timetable is pretty intense, although a good portion of the timetable is laboratory work so it lets you exercise the theory knowledge gained (hopefully) in a practical environment. The course challenged me in so many ways - but I genuinely enjoyed it.

By the end of first year I had a good idea of what modules I enjoyed and was most interested in. One of the advantages of Queen’s is that they give you some control over what modules you take in your second year. There are some modules that are compulsory, but you can choose from a number of others, which is great should a student not enjoy a particular module - providing it’s not a compulsory one!

Year two

Here we go again! My second year felt like old hat - I’d been here before and I had an idea of what to expect and how things worked at university. Queen’s like to push their students to be the best they can be, so the second year was certainly a step up from what was by no means an easy first year.

It followed a similar format to the first year with labs supporting the material taught in lectures. Our timetable was once again a busy one, but hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end. I took the decision to apply to the IET Power Academy [new window] this year as I knew much more about the electrical engineering industry as a whole and what sort of work the companies in the Power Academy do.

One of the biggest attractions of the Power Academy scholarship was that successful scholars must complete a summer placement with their sponsorship company in each summer of their university degree. This was why I applied to the scheme - to gain experience in industry and hopefully apply the knowledge I have learnt in university to “real world” situations.

The process is a challenging one, from the initial application to assessment centres to interviews it was a busy time and I learnt a lot from the experience.

I’m currently writing this as a Power Academy scholar with Rolls-Royce, so I made it and I’m pleased to say that I passed all my exams so that’s two of four years of study done.

Life as an IET Power Academy scholar

As a Power Academy scholar I’ve just finished my first placement with Rolls-Royce Plc. The experience was invaluable!

I learnt a lot, not only as an individual, but as a professional. Suddenly going from university to working was a bit of a shock to the system but I quickly adjusted and soon found myself loving the working experience. Working in such a large and prestigious organisation brings its own pressure, but knowing that a project you work on as an intern is to be used in the future certainly increases this pressure - something off which I thrive!

I worked in the civil aerospace sector of the business, which was extremely enjoyable as it was a new learning experience from day one. It was a steep learning curve, but dare I say so myself, I feel that I’ve gained an impressive knowledge about that sector and the company as a whole.

The skills I gained through working on my project alongside other projects will benefit me hugely in the future and be an asset when I return to university next September. Yes that’s right, next September!

As a sandwich student I’m required to do a year in industry, something which I’ve been looking forward to from the moment I started university.

So where am I now?

I’m currently based in Limerick in the Republic of Ireland and at the time of writing am in the first month of my new job with Analog Devices as an applications engineer in precision analog to digital conversion.

I’m currently in the settling in stage - getting to know the names (often more difficult than remembering the faces) as well as the products, the software and also the hardware I’ll be working with and on over the coming weeks.

From what I’ve learnt and done so far it’ll be a busy time. I’m based here for the next nine months and will be working on a number of projects, which I’ll be able to talk more about in my next diary entry.