Student Profile - Fiona Schulz


Fiona SchulzPhD Integrated Studies Structural Metallic Systems for Gas Turbine Systems, School of Metallurgy and Materials 

The modern world is based on science and doesn’t work without engineering – what’s not to be interested in?

First I did an engineering degree in Germany with specializing in Materials Science. After finishing my Undergraduates I wanted to see another part of the world. That’s how I first heard of the University of Birmingham which has a fantastic reputation in Materials Science and Engineering. Coming and studying here didn’t disappoint any of my expectations. The University of Birmingham has become a big part of my life and supports me in finding my way. I know how I can work, in which direction I want to go and like to help others to get exactly where I am!

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

Being responsible for my own research project and working together with other PhD students.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in engineering and science?

As my father is an engineer, I think I’ve always been close to technical world in some sort or form (trying out the new computer, visiting my dad at the research and development centre or fixing the bike up for the summer). The final decision was made in the summer holidays before my final year in school when I attended a 1 week long camp at a university campus. We got to work in labs, got hands-on experience, had workshops, and could talk to both students and professionals. The modern world is based on science and doesn’t work without engineering – what’s not to be interested in?

If you could change one thing about the culture of engineering and science today, what would it be?

The perception that you need have to know every detail. You don’t, at least not in advance. All you need to be is being interested in how the world works!

Did you get involved in any societies, volunteering or extra-circular activities while at University that boosted your interest in a career in engineering and science?

During my undergraduate degree I worked as a student assistant in different University institutions which helped applying the theory I had to know for my exams. The best part was 2 internships I completed: one before I started at university, in a workshop where I got to work with all the tools you talk about later on. And another one towards the end of my first degree in the research and development department of an automotive company. You don’t realise how much you learn at University and how this prepares you do the job!

What advice would you give to girls wishing to pursue a career in engineering or science?

Do it! Take opportunities like internships, talk to students in higher years, start study groups to get through the tougher parts, and just be interested! It’ll be fine, you won’t be able to understand everything the first time around, but no-one ever does! Stick with it!