'My BSc qualification and knowledge proved a vital stepping stone to my postgraduate qualification in Engineering'
I currently work for an engineering consultancy firm called Lorien Engineering Solutions in Burton-on-Trent. We provide engineering design, project management and technical consulting services to customers in food, brewing, drinks manufacturing sectors, and life sciences discovery and manufacturing.
In 2012 I worked for 6 months at Toyota in Derby in the paint shop as a vehicle production engineer. In this role I was in charge of paint projects for the new Auris. In 2012 I also worked in The Chemical Engineering Department at Birmingham Uni for 6 months supporting research & teaching of Fouling and Cleaning of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) processes. For example the processing of beer, confectionary products, milk products, and personal care products like toothpaste and conditioner. I have several publications and experience lecturing on the subject.
In 2011 I was employed by Heineken UK as a project manager to implement my EngD findings on site and to maximise the sustainability of other cider and beer by-products and processes. This role followed on from my EngD.
From 2006 to 2010 I decided to continue my studies at Birmingham University. I did an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Formulation engineering in Chemical Engineering. I was based in numerous Scottish and Newcastle breweries and the university to gaining practical experience working in industry while studying. My thesis objective was to investigate and improve the sustainability of brewery cleaning processes. .
Outline the course you studied at the University of Birmingham and how it benefited you?
I have studied two courses at Birmingham. Most recently an EngD in Chemical Engineering (2006 - 2010); a vocational doctorate based in industry solving real engineering problems. I was based in the brewing industry. Before this I did a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (Class 2.1) (2003 – 2006). This was an analytical and practical based degree where I learned to interpret and present scientific concepts & data clearly and effectively. My BSc qualification and knowledge proved a vital stepping stone to my postgraduate qualification in Engineering. My time working in the brewing industry solving real issues from an academic approach means I have a top-notch qualification, fantastic skills, knowledge and connections, without which I am sure I would not be where I am today. My EngD experience was published in the Heineken UK magazine illustrating the success of the project for both the university and the company. I also gained 2 publications. One of which won a prize at the ‘Fouling, Cleaning and Disinfection in Food processing’ conference in 2010.
During the EngD I was also able to take up triathlon so I could guide my visually impaired friend in training and competition. We had 2 years of great success making it to the British and European Championships.
How did you find your first year in Birmingham?
My first year at Birmingham was great fun. There is so much you could get involved with if you wanted. The campus and halls are in a great location making it very easy to get to the town centre and anywhere else in the UK. I was not too far from my home town either so was able to keep up with old friends and my family. My time at Birmingham gave me a lot of independence. Living and working with completely different people gives you an appreciation of how to cooperate well with others on many levels. This makes University a very interesting experience. As a result I have great friends I did not expect to have from living, working, studying, and training with.
How did going to University as a whole benefit you?
I would have to say the benefits can be distilled into 3 things:
- Knowledge, skills and qualifications to be reckoned with - In an academic sense of course, but also in sport I felt a true drive to compete and succeed at a high level.
- A true sense of independence and responsibility – especially when managing and earning my own money. I also became quickly aware of how important it is to treat other people with courtesy and respect and help out wherever you can.
- Friends for life that you never would have had without University.
How did you find campus life?
Studying on campus was made easy by the provision of great libraries and learning centres which support individual and group learning. In spring and summer the campus is very green and open and serves as a nice back drop for a break from revision. I remember everything I needed was on campus or within walking distance. Nipping home for lunch with friends was also possible if I fancied a change of scenery. Because you can walk everywhere you are encouraged to do so which probably helped my fitness without me even realising.
How did you find living in Birmingham?
I have always lived with other people and in many different places in Birmingham: Edgbaston in halls and in a flat, in Selly Oak in a house, in the city centre in a flat and in Balsall Heath in a house. I never had any trouble and always felt safe walking or cycling or on the train. I did not expect there to be as many pubs and curry houses as there was. But this certainly gave me a new found appreciation and love of curry. I had not eaten any before university.
Did you join any student societies during your studies?
I was a member of The University of Birmingham swim team and the Gymnastics and Trampolining team.
Any tips to pass on to students thinking of coming here?
I would say work hard but also find time to let off some steam or you will go mad. I did not get my work life balance right during my undergraduate but did during my EngD. It is important to get involved with whatever you can to develop yourself personally. However it is also important you do not bankrupt yourself. This means you will make some tough decisions but if you make true friends it is easy to have fun together without going out 6 nights every week.
What are your aspirations for the future?
For the last year or so I have had aspirations of running my own microbrewery which I do feel is totally possible.