MSE Graduate 2012-2013
"Everything you do mirrors what happens in the real world"
What were you doing before you began your MSc course?
I was studying for my Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering at Vellore Institute of Technology in India, which I completed in 2012. During this course I also completed two internships: one with a mining business and the other within the engine division of one of Asia’s largest aerospace companies.
Why did you decide to study for an MSc?
My BTech had given me a good basis of knowledge but I really wanted to build on that. Also, I felt it would be useful to complement my understanding of mechanical engineering by developing skills in other areas like manufacturing systems and project management.
Why did you choose WMG?
To start with, the programme looked right for me, particularly the way it integrates manufacturing and engineering. Warwick’s high rating and reputation also counted for a lot. One particular thing that stood out was the fact that the university works with companies like Jaguar Land Rover and Tata to research and develop new technologies. The university doesn’t work in academic isolation, but is highly active in industry. That approach was a huge attraction.
What were your first impressions of the programme?
The way the course is structured was different to anything I had experienced before. For each module, we had three days of intensive study, followed by two days spent investigating the practical application of the subject through group work and simulations. After that, rather than sit an exam, we had a few weeks to work on our post-module assignments. This was one of the best things about the course for me. Rather than just learning to answer questions in an exam paper, you explore the subject in depth and ‘get under its skin’. In this way, you gain a much broader and deeper understanding of everything you study.
Also, in a number of the lectures, the room was set out in a conference style with the desks arranged in a U shape rather than us all sitting facing the professor. That prompted conversation and debate within the group. The students on the course came from a diverse range of backgrounds and brought different levels of experience gained in a number of industries. Working this way made lectures interactive and we were able to discuss ideas and learn from each other, rather than just listening to a lecturer.
What did you think of the teaching staff?
I thought it was excellent that many of the professors were actively involved in research for businesses like Jaguar Land Rover, as well as smaller local companies. They brought the projects they were working on to us, so all the time we were gaining experience of how the areas we studied are applied in industry. I would also like to say that the staff at WMG were amazing. I cannot give them enough credit for making my time there so productive and such a valuable learning experience.
Were the simulations useful?
Since I came to the course with very little actual practical experience, it was great from me to get involved in hands-on projects. The simulations embedded what we had learned in the lectures by letting us apply the theories to real situations. As teams, we learned to make strategic decisions, manage risks, plan financial models, use statistical models to solve problems and much more. Now I am working, I realise how vital these ‘games’ were in the learning process – they simulate exactly how things are done in the real world.
Tell us a little about your dissertation subject.
I saw a project listed with ALCOA and supervised by Dr. Stuart Barnes, Director of Research Degrees at WMG; it appealed to me straight away. Basically, it was a comparative study of the respective advantages of using aluminium alloy and steel as mould tools for injection moulding. That involved detailed research into the durability, usability and cost effectiveness of each material, working from the first stages of designing the moulds to the machining, implementation and testing phases of the two mould tools.
Working with people from ALCOA to plan the project gave me an insight into the way a business applies this kind of research. It also gave me a practical understanding of how a company needs to pay attention to even the most minute details of its manufacturing activities to improve processes and achieve higher levels of productivity.
What happened after that?
I had been looking around for a job for a while and got the opportunity to present my dissertation to Peter Roach of ALCOA, during one of his visits to WMG. He was impressed and passed my CV to ALCOA, who invited me for an interview and to give a 15-minute presentation on how I would implement Six Sigma into the business.
Part of the recruitment process also involved a technical test. Almost all of the answers came straight from what I head learned during the Advanced Materials and Processes module. It just proved to me how the modules are directly relevant to today’s industry.
Anyway, the next week they called me and offered me a job!
What are you doing now?
I’ve recently started working with them as a Process Capability Engineer. I’ve always wanted to work in aerospace manufacturing, so this is absolutely perfect for me and I’m enjoying every minute of my time here.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your time at WMG?
What’s important is that you don’t just learn the subjects in the modules. You develop the right mentality to launch your career in industry. It’s something I call the ‘WMG way of thinking’ that carries through into everything you do. I would describe it as an approach to problem solving and the route you take from the current situation to the future solution, as well as an appreciation of how what you do can improve quality, value and cost. It’s not just about reaching an answer, but the process involved in getting to that answer.