We are Birmingham Alumni: Deborah Harris

My name is Deborah Harris and I graduated in 2016 with a masters in Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

I currently work for Rolls Royce on the materials engineering graduate scheme and this means that I do a series of four-month placements rotating around different areas of the business, but all with a materials engineering focus.

So I graduated just over a year ago and since then I've completed three placements as part of my grad scheme, the first of which was in repair technology, which looked at working with universities and small and medium companies to develop new technologies for current and future engine programs. I then completed the graduate ‘design and make’ project, where I built a manoeuvring room simulator for a nuclear submarine for the Royal Navy, and I'm now working in control systems developing their new hydro-mechanical strategy line.

As part of work I'm assigned a professional mentor to help my development and my work towards chartership. My mentor is a woman who's worked at Rolls-Royce for about 25 years now and she's an absolute inspiration to me.

When I was looking at universities, Birmingham was the only university that offered the joint honours course that I was interested in. So then I came to the campus on an open day and absolutely fell in love with the place. It's just such a welcoming campus with such a warm atmosphere and I knew straightaway that I would enjoy my time here.

I chose Mechanical Materials and Engineering because I thought it was the best of both worlds. I was interested in the breadth of mechanical engineering but the detail that materials engineering offered and I couldn't believe that I had the chance to study both of them at the same time. When I arrived I was 18, I was shy, I was quiet, I didn't know what to do with my life and I didn't have the confidence to try new things and Birmingham gave me the opportunity to develop into the person I am today and I couldn't have done it if I hadn't come here.

I would say to a student who wanted to make the most out of their time at Birmingham just get involved in everything that you can. University is about so much more than just your degree, it's about the friendships you make, the societies you're involved in, and the things that you can do to give something back to the University - so get involved to try everything and you'll have a great time.

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