My Summer placement

Hello again all!

Some of you reading may have gone through the application process to the Materials Science department recently – I hope you enjoyed your visit to Sheffield and, even more importantly, you were successful in your application! It’d be great for you to join all of us here in the Department in October!

In one of my previous posts I promised to blog about my favourite aspect of the undergraduate course, my summer placement between third and fourth year. Even though I’m now in research I loved my time working in industry and it’s my intention to go back into industry once postgraduate life is over!

My placement was at DePuy Synthes in Cork, Ireland in 2014. DePuy Synthes are a Johnson and Johnson company that produce medical devices. Specifically in Cork there was a strong focus on the manufacture of knee implants. I was put in touch with the company by Professor Martin Jackson, who organised placements for every MEng student – a guarantee that is still upheld.

Without a doubt the placement was the greatest learning experience of my undergraduate course. Even within a few weeks I felt I knew more about the way engineering is carried out in the real world than a lecture course could ever teach me. I could really appreciate how knowledge accumulated in the previous three years could be applied to manufacturing and design problems, and it was also easy to see how vital a materials engineer was to a large company such as DePuy Synthes. The specialised knowledge I had meant that even as a placement student, I could carry out metallurgical testing such as microstructural analysis to ensure a batch of knee implants was compliant with regulations.

It was refreshing to be in a professional environment too. I was treated as a full member of staff and had all the responsibility that came with that. I quickly had to find my feet but enjoyed the challenge posed to me. I was also able to contribute ideas towards the success of the company – one of my suggestions enabled important progress to be made towards possible implementation of a new processing route.

The twenty weeks I spent on placement helped develop my confidence too. I remember being shaky with delivering presentations, but when you’ve updated senior managers on the projects you’re working on you quickly become adept at the right way to communicate! When I came back I felt completely at ease talking in front of a crowd and my placement is the primary reason for that. Other skills such as time management, report writing, project management, team working were greatly developed by having to apply them day in, day out.

In addition, the chance to travel to a foreign country was greatly welcome. Though Ireland is just next door, I had never visited before and the change in culture did take some getting used to. I loved taking in the sights and tourist attractions up and down the country such as the Cliffs of Moher, Kerry National Park, Temple Bar and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. If you’re ever in Cork make sure you stop in at KC’s for a King Creole, you’ll understand if you do!

Other students got to experience placements in Philips in Eindhoven, who have a strong link with the Department. If you end up studying at Sheffield you might find yourself in the Netherlands for the summer – not an opportunity to be sniffed at!

I can’t recommend the benefits of going on placement, during your time as an undergraduate engineer, enough. You will learn and develop so much as a result of doing so, and hopefully have a fantastic time – I know I did!

That’s all for now, in the next post I’ll go into a bit of detail about general student life at Sheffield based on my experiences.

Richard

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