Student experiences

Emma Spalding on placement

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26 February 2015

Emma Spalding, from Birmingham, is an Engineering student currently on placement in the quality department at Cummins Ltd. She will graduate in 2016 with BSc (Hons) Off Road Vehicle Design.

What attracted you to Harper Adams?

The initial thing that attracted me to Harper was the title of the course, it was different to any other. Then, after visiting the campus it was the general atmosphere, as well as the rural location, along with its ratings of top university college at the time. When looking round the campus the staff and students were all very friendly and helpful and I could tell it was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.

Why did you choose your course?

I chose my course because I wanted to do an engineering degree. After looking at Sheffield and Southampton for aerospace engineering, both of which course I’d have happily done, I realised the universities weren’t for me, and that if I had to spend 3/4/5 years there, I wanted to be happy. That’s when I discovered Harper Adams did engineering. Automatically I was sold, especially after doing further research and finding out that the course wasn’t just fixing tractors and spending my days watching other agricultural vehicles; it did the same as any other mechanical engineering degree but just specialised in the off highway area. The variety within the course was also a great bonus for me, because although at a land-based university (university college at the time of entrance), the course doesn’t just cover agricultural sector, it also covers military, SUV and construction sectors.

How do you learn?

The course itself has the same structure as most mechanical engineering degrees; maths, mechanical science, design, materials, manufacturing, etc, with two specialist modules. There are practicals spread throughout the year, with a large proportion of the 2nd year being a practical project. There’s assessment throughout the year in forms of assignments and reports, and in most cases exams taking place at the end of the year.

Are you glad you chose to study here?

Yes - my course is interesting, the staff are incredibly supportive and will go out of their way to help. I’ve made lifelong friends and most of all have had a happy university life in a place with likeminded people and a great atmosphere.

What are your career plans? 

I’m still very much undecided on my career plans, but so far my placement is confirming that I want to work in the quality/manufacturing area of engineering, as for what sort of company in what sector, I am not yet sure of

How do you think your course will help you with your career?

I feel the applied nature of my course will aid my career as I feel Harper Adams graduates can look at the theory of something, then apply it to a problem. I also feel the extensive links the university has with industry and the years’ experience generally puts me in a good place for my future career.

What opportunities do you think are available to Harper Adams graduates?

I don’t believe that studying at a land-based uni limits career choices at all, my placement proves this. I think there’s the same, if not more opportunities are available to Harper Adams graduates, as we do the normal mechanical engineering degree material and then the specialist modules allow us to work in the more specialised subjects.

The teaching/staff support here is …

The best I’ve received in my entire education. The support given by certain lectures truly goes above and beyond what it needs to, supporting in all areas of university life. The catering and housekeeping staff made first year home from home and the support staff have helped me if/when I’ve needed it. Library staff and workshop technicians have also played a big part in my passing the first two years of my degree.

What do you think of the facilities?

They’re continuously changing/improving, There always seems to be a new development taking place. We seem to come back each summer and a new building has appeared, or something has being changed.  Some of the facilities don’t look as great as other unis, but that is simply down to the fact they are used. Out of all of the engineering students I’ve spoken to, I’ve found being allowed to actively use engineering facilities is something quite rare. The fact Harper Adams is situated on a working farm, means you never have to travel far to see machinery in action in its intended conditions. The new precision farming centre with the lecture theatre in which you can bring a vehicle inside means that lectures can take place without disruption, as you can have everything in the same room, not having to move round campus. The soil hall is also a valuable facility, as it means we can do experiments that require certain ground conditions without external weather influencing it.

What have been the highlights of your time at university so far?

My entire first year; from Freshers Week through to the summer ball, I loved every second of it.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Emma you can find out more about her placement experience in our latest 3.7m careers magazine, out later this year. 

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