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Engineering university choices....pls help

(190 Posts)
Canadalife Mon 23-Jul-18 19:57:19

Hello..we seek help and advice for lovely DD. My daughter is applying for general engineering this September. She is doing Maths, Further Maths and Physics A levels...predicted grades A,A A...poss Oxford.Definetly not London ie no Imperial. She is considering oxford , Durham, Warwick, Cardiff and Sheffield. Does anyone have any experience with any of these unis/cities, or other unis they’d recommend us looking at for engineering? All help gratefully received.. Thank you .

BubblesBuddy Mon 23-Jul-18 20:31:52

They are excellent choices but I would add Southampton and Bristol. I have not checked the exact course she might want is offered but Engineering grads are well thought of. Some courses may require the odd A* so you might need to look at that.

Also do check the exact course content. In some engineering circles it would be thought that general engineering is broad and doesn’t get to grips with enough practical engineering. As a result lots of the grads don’t go into engineering at all. They go into finance! Often these courses will require a masters in the exact engineering discipline she wants to follow in order to be a Chartered Engineer eventually.

Engineering is a huge field and some of the best universities have the vast majority of their courses as specialist in a particular discipline, eg Aeronautical, civil, mechanical, electrical etc.

However it’s great she wants to do it but she might need to think about her career and how she intends to progress it. The grades required are a good steer as to the academics of the course but not necessarily it’s standing in the world of employment in engineering.

Pingipinguin Mon 23-Jul-18 20:33:28

Southampton and Nottingham are very good

Oldowl Mon 23-Jul-18 20:34:33

Would she consider a degree apprenticeship? ie. get an engineering degree from Warwick debt free and be paid 19k a year during training with an engineering job at the end?

Your DD grade profile AAA fits their requirements.

lpchill Mon 23-Jul-18 20:36:36

I went with my husband to Sheffield so he could study aerospace engineering. It was fantastic. It a brilliant city for students with two universities in the city. Cheap to live being in the north and loads to do. He done a three year course then done his MSC (master of science) at Cranfield university in Bedford. This is recognised world wide and he got many job offers from doing his final year here.

thesandwich Mon 23-Jul-18 20:37:04

Has she done open days or taster days? Visiting on spec during the holidays is also an idea as she might find people she can talk to. It very much depends on what she wants to do with engineering- and her level of interest in programming etc. The courses as bubbles says vary so much.

Canadalife Mon 23-Jul-18 21:56:54

Thank you so much. DD has done Headstart general engineering at Oxford and loved it. It was a general engineering introduction with talks from various engineering areas. She is still not settled on an area, but was taken with bioengineering or aerospace. We have a few open days planned..but there is so much to decide.

Tomorrow she has work experience with a local engineering firm to see what it is like in practice.

Thanks for upgrading is so valuable in the process.

Canadalife Mon 23-Jul-18 22:09:03

DD would like me to correct grades which are A*, A* ,A I got it wrong the first time....sorry

errorofjudgement Mon 23-Jul-18 22:11:13

Definitely add Southampton and Bristol in the mix for aerospace.
Also look carefully at general engineering - it may be a general course, or it may be that this is just how it appears in league tables (eg Warwick) as the degree is much more tailored. My DS graduated from Warwick today and of the ~400 Engineering graduates he is one of only 3 with his specific degree.

hellsbells99 Mon 23-Jul-18 22:12:43

Leeds is one of the top ones for engineering. Your DD could choose the 4 year Mechanical Engineering course. The first 2 years are general and then you can choose to specialise in aerospace, automotive, medical or continue on the mechanical engineering.

SquishySquirmy Mon 23-Jul-18 22:14:17

Sheffield is great for engineering, and a lovely place to love.
Had she thought about whether she would be happier at a campus type uni, or a city one? There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and the experience can be quite different, so if she thinks she would be more suited to one than the other it is worth taking into consideration.

SquishySquirmy Mon 23-Jul-18 22:14:50

Lovely place to LIVE.

SquishySquirmy Mon 23-Jul-18 22:20:12

Surrey good too, especially for Aerospace but they also do Biomedical engineering there.
Lots of links to Surrey Satellite, a company that with a long track record of satellite production.

Au79 Mon 23-Jul-18 23:18:40

Why not Imperial! Just curious, but I have a dd interested In Engineering and Was told it was the best. By an alumnus of course, but still...

thejoysofboys Mon 23-Jul-18 23:28:31

Oxford educated engineer here - as long as she is careful to choose the right options in Y3 & Y4 her course should be accredited by the relevant institution. But I agree with the point above that it's a more general course (obviously) which may lack detail in specific areas. On the flip side, the course is designed to teach you to think for yourself from first principles which is great for problem solving skills and resilience out in the real world.
Other good choices would be Durham, Leeds, Southampton, Lancaster, Sheffield, Warwick, Manchester.

BubblesBuddy Mon 23-Jul-18 23:51:43

I also think Imperial is considered “best” but not for all disciplines. Imperial is well known in academia but for actually working in engineering for a living - at the coal face - it’s grads are less common. I think many see Imperial as a way into research as opposed to working for smaller companies for example. It’s London and life there is more expensive so the costs might outweigh the benefits if it’s not how you see your future.

Aerospace has always been a top course at Bristol because of nearby employment opportunities. However some thought might need to be given to Brexit in the future! There is a great demand for all engineers at the moment though so employment prospects are great.

I too would stress the need to problem solve and think for yourself in engineering. It’s the biggest criticism DH has when recruiting grads. The best engineers work out solutions quickly and accurately. The opportunities are fantastic for good people though.

I’m not sure if apprentice schemes are equal to MEng degrees that allow a quicker route to being Chartered. Always go for MEng if you can and the course must be accredited but at the best universities they are.

Decorhate Tue 24-Jul-18 06:49:22

Hi OP. My son is also applying for engineering this autumn but for Civil rather than general. Has your dd considered Civil at all? The degrees allow a huge variety of careers (and I'm sure many also go into finance).

We are also struggling a bit to find enough unis that he likes - he doesn't want a London one, not really an Oxbridge candidate, Scotland seems too far away. So when going through league tables we are discounting a lot!

So far he has liked Bath & Southampton but not sure they do General Engineering?

CraftyGin Tue 24-Jul-18 12:05:43

What is general engineering?

TheOrigFV45 Tue 24-Jul-18 12:16:24

My son is studying electronic engineering at Southampton. Just finished his first year. Apart from all the league tables etc, what attracted him was their excellent links with industry.

He did apply to Imperial (which is indeed the 'best' on paper), but in hindsight he's glad he didn't get offered a place as he would have been utterly broke and had a very different student experience to the one he's having.

I would suggest your DD going through different courses really carefully to find which ones allow flexibility if she's not certain which discipline she wants to focus on.

Canadalife Tue 24-Jul-18 13:04:38

Thank you all. DD will be delighted with so much information. She will look v carefully at course outlines etc....has anyone found any other sources of info ie the Student Room of any use?

Thanks again.

BubblesBuddy Tue 24-Jul-18 13:46:26

CraftyGin: General Engineering courses tend to be "academic" and cover a wider variety of disciplines. Certainly for two years. Although the OP's DD does not have Chemistry, so Chemical Engineering might not be for her. You must specialise after that, but it can be a route people use when they do not really want to stay in engineering but want a top class university, such as Oxford, on the CV. Born Engineers tend to know their direction of travel earlier and may not see a general course as meeting their needs because they are having to do so much that will not be of much use to them later down the line - but it might be. You have to gamble a bit. It is also suits the more academic and slightly less practical people in some ways because you are not digging so deeply or widely into your area so its more of a broad academic understanding rather than in-depth knowledge of a smaller area. Practical people are already taking things to pieces or have an interest in how buildings work for example.

The problem is that no area of engineering is small. It is all huge! Civil covers a very wide syllabus ad usually Structures in included. Most Engineers will have to hone their skills and interests after a standard Civil engineering degree (MEng), eg Structures, Environmental, Transport etc. I would always add Sheffield into the mix for Civil Engineering and if DS likes Southampton and Bath, he may well like Sheffield too.

The goal of MEng grads, if they stay in engineering, should be to get Chartered. You, therefore, need to decide which area of engineering really matters to you. You can get chartered by a variety of routes but the quickest is to specialise in a particular field and get employment in that field. You then become a grad member of your Institution and follow their post grad route to getting Chartered status with your employer who must be registered to deliver the post grad support needed. If you decide to be an accountant or fund manager, so be it!

I think the best sources of info are the poeple who have already qualified and recruit. DH is inundated at the schools he goes to, and he takes a recent grad engineer along too. Often students on The Student Room talk about their courses and universities because they like them, but have nothing else to compare them with, so the information can be one-sided. A student might love the university of X, but in reality the course might be low grade and not thought so highly of by employers. Are the students likely to know that? Possibly not. People who run consultancies and larger employers are better able to give an overview. Not everyone knows the difference between BEng and MEng for example. Or between an Incorporated Engineer and a Chartered Engineer.

Most of the universities mentioned on this thread are excellent for very many branches of Engineering. You can always tell how good they are by the grades required. It is a slight shame she only has two subjects instead of widening her studies to include Geography or a MFL which can help broaden her outlook. Some EU countries are big employers of Aerospace Engineers for example. Geography is great for Civil engineers who are interested in Environmental Engineering.

OP, I do think your DD should think about where she eventually wants to end up, if she can. What is she doing to support her application? DD's school (many years ago) actually did Engineering A level and built a mini monorail around the school grounds as an engineering project. What does your DD do that shows her interest in Engineering? Have a think about whether it is the environment, structures, designing machines to solve problems, electrical or aerospace or something else. Look at the modules of the courses she is thinking about and what links they have with industry. It is an area of study where employment prospects are excellent but practical skills are valued as well as academic ones. If she really wants Aerospace Engineering, I would look into which course really gives her the best degree for that ambition.

CraftyGin Tue 24-Jul-18 14:01:48

I did Chemical Engineering, and had a Common first year with the Mechanicals, Electricals and Civils, so movement possible.

We never called it general engineering though - we just called it by our nominated honours degree.

SquishySquirmy Tue 24-Jul-18 15:06:33

Imperial may be "the best", but really I expect the difference between Imperial and other prestigious, highly respected unis is not going to be matter enough to justify the additional living costs.
Holding a good, sought after degree from a university with a good reputation for that degree is not a second best even if it's not from the best rated uni iyswim.

I did Aerospace and although that sounds quite niche, the degree itself covered a broad range of engineering disciplines. We were part of the mechanical department, but also had modules with the electrical and material engineering students too. There were only a couple of modules which were just for the aerospace students. So although some degrees can sound quite narrow, often they are anything but.
After uni I went to work in a completely different field of engineering, and some of the people from my course used the degree to get non-engineering jobs in finance etc.

CraftyGin Tue 24-Jul-18 15:15:21

My DS did Electronic Engineering at UCL.

TBH, he didn’t find it difficult financially. His maintenance loan was £5000 for London compared to £3500 elsewhere, and this was enough to cover any differential.

He didn’t spend any more on food that he would have anywhere else, and walked everywhere.

BubblesBuddy Tue 24-Jul-18 17:29:04

There are very few halls of residence now in London that are covered by the minimum loan. Even the London higher loan. My DDs was £7500 several years ago. Also rooms in student houses are at least £170 a week to be within a reasonable distance of UCL, Imperial etc and you will have to pay for a year. I’m afraid costs are now much more than say Southampton or Sheffield. To get the cheaper rooms you have to travel in. That costs and walking isn’t possible. Obviously living around Imperial isn’t possible for the majority either. There are fabulous new halls of residence but the cost of years 2, 3 and 4 can be far more than elsewhere. Brexit might reduce rents but don’t hold your breath!

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