Emma Nelissen: My best memories at the University of Birmingham

BEng Materials Science and Energy Engineering, 2018
Continuous Improvement Specialist, ABB

Honestly… how can one summarise three years in a few words?

My Bachelor’s at the University of Birmingham in Materials Science started in 2015 and those three years were incredibly important for me. Not only in terms of studying and making friends but especially important in terms of self-growth and understanding who I am, what I would like to be and what I want to change in this world. Honestly, I immediately fell in love with the Birmingham campus. Although, I must admit that today it is even prettier than when I studied there, the Green Heart, the brand-new sport centre, the redbrick buildings, and the famous Old Joe clocktower (which is by the way very useful when you’re lost).

Currently, I'm working in the corporation ABB near its headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland. ABB is a Swiss-Swedish multinational engineering company mainly working in areas such as automation, digitalisation, electrical equipment and robotics. I am working as a continuous improvement specialist for system drives and am involved in sustainability-related projects such as implementing circular economy. The graduate trainee program which I am part of offers the possibility to discover the company for one and a half years. Trainees rotate in three different assignments (usually two in the home country and one abroad). In October 2021, I will thus start working for six months in Sweden. I would advise anyone who is unsure about what exact fixed position they are more interested in to start with a graduate program, it offers the possibility to try out several roles within large companies.

Emma Nelissen headshot

Today, I look back over my university years, at a time when I learnt how to live on my own, how to manage good and bad times, how to be open-minded, and how to live in a foreign country. I also learnt the importance of exchanging thoughts with flatmates and friends and picked up some Birmingham slang.

I have some wonderful memories such as a trip with the mountaineering team in Pembrokeshire, parties, winning games with my basketball team, the relief at the end of the exam season, having a huge picnic on the Vale etc. However, six years later, I still feel that the simplest memories are the ones I value the most. Coming back home after a late night at the library and seeing my flatmates watching a typical English programme on TV such as University Challenge or the Great British Bake Off. A relaxed weekend, having late night conversations about life with them.

Advice from Emma

“Be yourself, dare to put yourself out there and try something new, such as me participating in a karate competition (great memory but not the best idea)!”


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