Harriet Morris

MEng Materials Engineering, 2020
Materials Scientist at Renishaw

Day to day I work with various different analytical techniques such as SEM, EDS, X-ray CT, Raman and optical spectroscopy. I prepare samples for analysis and testing to solve questions and queries across the business. 

Why did you originally apply to the University of Birmingham?

I fell in love with the campus immediately after seeing it and before I started at the University of Birmingham I was already excited to get my graduation pictures in front of Old Joe. The University is so beautiful to walk around that you can’t help but not be proud of being a student there. When I visited the University of Birmingham I was met by Alessandro, a lecturer in the School of Metallurgy and Materials, who instantly made me feel welcome. The lecturers who presented came across really passionate about their subject which, along with the excellent selection of free food in the C block foyer, really appealed to me. I chose to study Materials Engineering because the science behind materials fascinated me and I knew that I would get the opportunity to work in the laboratory, as well as solving mathematical problems and figuring out scientific solutions. This degree has developed so many of my skills that I feel I am prepared to take on life after university.


What did you think of the learning experience within the University? 

The materials department welcomes all of its students with open arms, with lecturers that you can email or visit for help at any time, or even just go to have a cup of tea and a chat. This friendly atmosphere means that you always have someone to turn to if you’re not confident on a particular subject or just need some extra help. It also means that asking a question in front of your fellow students doesn’t feel embarrassing or awkward.

Group projects that took place on the course were really helpful for understanding what some materials related jobs would be like after university; for example, polishing and etching samples was a great laboratory experience which is good preparation for failure analysis of materials in the real world. Hands on experience was the most beneficial for myself which was really encouraged within the department, with internships being offered during the summer to build your knowledge as well as multiple group projects every year to get you thinking like an engineer.

What motivates you?

I am motivated by the people around me. I found that coming to university it was important to be surrounded by friends who are there to support you through good and bad times. My lecturers motivated and challenged me to work hard and be successful, which has encouraged me to aim for success in everything that I do, whether it was achieving my master’s degree or moving on and going into a career that I can be successful in.

We Are (Third Width)

What are your fondest memories of the University?

I have so many fond memories at the University of Birmingham that it is hard to narrow them down to just a few. The Birmingham University Materials Society (BUMS) played such a key part of my university experience. Within this department society, I played campus league sport including netball and touch rugby where there was no pressure; it allowed me to keep up my fitness as well as to make friends with students across different year groups. The social events held by BUMS made everyone feel inclusive, which were always evenings to look forward to, these included board games nights, pub golf, open mic night and so many more. 

Materials Society at the EPS Societies' Awards

Secondly, the sport at the University of Birmingham is never ending. The different options available, which are all inclusive to different levels of ability, make it easy to make friends and start a new sport, or carry on a sport from before. I learnt a new sport, polo, during my time at university and I have continued playing after university. All different sports come together for events such as going to the races and weekly sports nights. The societies that the University of Birmingham offer are a great way to socialise, meet new people and do something you love. I was a loyal member of cocktail society from the moment I got to university, which was the perfect society for my friends and myself.

Harriet Morris and the BUMsport teams

How did you grow as a person by coming to the University?

By coming to university I learnt how to be independent, which included managing my own work and finances. It was my first time living away from my parents which seemed scary at first, but once I got into a routine, made friends and started my studies everything seemed to figure itself out. I learnt so much about myself over my four years at university, this included positive self-reflection, managing stress and making the most out of all the opportunities that are presented to you at university.

When I took on the role of co-president for the Birmingham University Materials Society (BUMS) in my third year. I was challenged to step into a leadership role, which I hadn’t experienced before. I was really nervous because I was not a strong public speaker, however this role pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and developed my self-confidence as well as communication and speaking skills, which will now stay with me forever.

Harriet Morris on campus

What inspired you most during your time as a student?

Being female was a minority in my chosen degree and seeing other females excelling in their research was always very inspiring. I always admired one lecturer called Alison Davenport who was also the Head of School; her knowledge on her subject area and her passion for the subject always stood out for myself. Another lecturer that I had in my first year of my degree gave money out to students who correctly answered challenging questions in the lecture. This really inspired students to study more and try harder in the lectures and it was also inspiring to know if we worked hard enough we could be rich enough to just give money away.