Engineering at Cambridge

Rachel is a 1st year Engineering student at Jesus College, Cambridge. She comes from a state school in Nottingham and has been particularly involved with outreach to encourage people from similar backgrounds to apply to Oxbridge. She has a particular interest in aerospace and space technology, and spends her spare time working with the spaceflight society to design and launch rockets.

1. What is your course and where do you study it?

I study Engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge

2. What does your course entail?

The engineering course at Cambridge is a 4-year integrated masters. Year 1 and 2 of the course involves studying a wide range of engineering disciplines in order to give you a basic understanding of lots of applications. This involves the following modules:
Mechanical engineering
Structures and materials
Electrical and Information engineering
Business economics

And a wide range of coursework including:
Lego Mindstorms
Electrical project (designing and building an AM radio)
Structural design project (designing and building a metal truss)
Presentation skills
Coding (I designed a real-time flood warning system and programmed a mars lander)
Microprocessors and machine code
Drawing (on paper and in SolidWorks)
Language options
Robot design project

Year 3 is where you begin to specialise. You can choose a discipline, or choose to remain studying general engineering, and not specialise. Year 4 allows for further specialisation, and an individual project occupies half of your time in this final year.

3. What is your favourite part of the course?

I initially was not sure about studying general engineering, but I love it, it has given me a chance to study topics that I would never have touched upon had I specialised initially.
The coursework is fantastic. I didn’t enjoy practical experiments at school, but the projects give you so much freedom and you actually build what you design. Ending up with a finished product that you designed is so rewarding.
Department has a huge range of equipment and facilities that you can book in to use (subject to covid restrictions).

4. What would you improve about the course?

There is a very high amount of contact hours, even compared to other courses at Cambridge. This can be beneficial as it means you don’t need to do much individual work, but it also means you have a lot of deadlines, and these tend to fall at a similar time of term, meaning there are a few weeks each term with a very high workload.
Coursework takes up a lot of time, and so sometimes it is hard to juggle lecture content on weeks where I have a lot of coursework.

5. What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I plan to become a working engineer, initially in the aviation sector working on aeroplanes and hopefully in the future I can work in the space sector.