David Newall

Mechanical Engineering BEng

The labs feel like a working environment as opposed to a practice environment.

What attracted you to studying at Kent?

I’m from London and wanted to stay fairly local. A lot of the universities I looked at seemed to be just starting their engineering courses, but Kent had been successfully running electronic and computer systems engineering courses for a long time, so had all the resources you need.

Did you come and visit the campus?

Yes, I did. The things that really stood out for me were the well-equipped labs and the student accommodation.

Why did you want to study mechanical engineering?

I started reading up on topics that I was interested in but didn’t really know what subject area they fitted into. I thought I need to find a qualification that matches the topics I’ve been looking into and it turned out that was mechanical engineering.

You started at Kent in 2020, so have been impacted by Covid-19. Did you get a chance to use the facilities?

Yes, I thought they were very good. The labs feel like a working environment as opposed to a practice environment. We were given a circuit board to assemble and solder and then we had to perform tests on it. There was support available if you needed it.

As for other campus facilities, I haven’t really had the chance to do a lot of exploring yet.

How have you found studying during a pandemic?

It was very interesting because I thought online learning wouldn't work, but in fact I think some things were better online. I found listening to lectures online worked well and was more interactive. You can put your questions in the chat and can see other people’s questions too. In a large live lecture, you wouldn't necessarily be able to keep track of all that.

Obviously lab work is difficult to replicate online. We were given a kit to work with, but if you got stuck getting help was trickier – you had to film the problem and send it to the lecturer. At least though the School tried to give us practical experience, they didn’t just give up. In general the School has been pretty good; everything has been changing so quickly which makes it tricky for everyone.

What has been the highlight of your course so far?

I really enjoyed the engineering analysis module, where you learn how engineers use mathematical tools in their work. I like studying quite general topics that can be applied to lots of areas, and in this module I discovered how you can use various equations to solve problems in electrical systems engineering and mechanical engineering.

One of the things I'm looking forward to next year is working on a project with students from other engineering programmes, so we each bring our own skill set and work on a single project. I think that will be really interesting.

Most of our modules are compulsory, but I think that’s a good thing because you discover topics you perhaps wouldn’t have chosen and end up enjoying them. Also, although I'm studying mechanical engineering, lots of my modules include electronic engineering. It’s good to cover different areas because it gives you more options later.

Where did you live on campus?

I lived in Park Wood and was very impressed by the atmosphere and by the individual houses. I was in a house with six other students and we all got on very well. The quality of the accommodation at Kent was one of the key selling points for me. Obviously, due to Covid-19 I haven’t spent that much time living in it, but I plan to live on campus again next year and have asked for the same room.

What do you think of Canterbury?

I like it, it’s a good size, easy to get around and there are enough things to do. The hill back to campus is quite steep though!

Have you thought about what you will do after graduation?

I would like to work in the production and manufacturing sector, rather than the construction sector. I'd like to work in a company that has a multidisciplinary workforce as a mechanical engineer.

How would you sum up your unique first year at university?

It’s been very good. I think some of the enforced changes caused by Covid-19 have been successful and I wonder if in future we will combine the positive experiences we’ve had online with in-person teaching and come up with an overall experience that is better than before. I’m really interested to see how next year goes.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to Kent?

Keep up with your assignments and join lots of societies. Just get involved with as many things as you can from the outset.