Last month I graduated from the University of Bath, earning an MEng degree in Mechanical Engineering with 1st class honours. Despite the heat in the Bath Abbey on a hot July day, the ceremony was fantastic. Being able to watch each one of my class mates, the vast majority of whom started on the same day as me nearly 5 years earlier, collecting their degree certificates was as much of a highlight as reading my own name under the Bath coat of arms. We were also treated to a drinks reception on the University campus where I was officially awarded the Geoff Herrington Innovation bursary for my work on my final year project. This was a great opportunity to catch up with my classmates following a few weeks off to relieve the stress of the project hand ins. While I’m sure I will cross paths with many of them in the future, it struck me that this would be the last time I would see many of these people for a long time (perhaps until a class of ’17 reunion!).
It was an amazing day to be able to celebrate my achievements with all my friends and family, but after the last of the many photos and with the ceremonial hats, gowns and scrolls returned, it gave me the first real opportunity to reflect on my life at University. Any attempt to accurately describe how much I have change and how far I have come in the last 5 years would be an understatement. Thinking back on the person who first arrived at Bath 5 years ago makes me realise just how different I am, both in a personal and professional sense. To sound overly cliché, the opportunity to live away from home gave me my first real chance to discover who I am and maybe more importantly, who I want to be. Moreover, studying with like-minded colleagues under some of the top academics in the country allowed me to take a subject that I love and find which areas I am most interested in. Namely, I gained a genuine appreciation for design, a passion which I hope will stay with my throughout my whole life.
While I will be sad to leave University behind, the ceremony also offered closure on that part of my life. If I had been asked a year ago whether I was ready to move on, I would quickly and confidently answered “no” – I was neither ready to leave student life behind, or move on into the professional world. Taking a placement year before my third year gave me a huge amount of experience in real-world engineering practices, but I was very happy to return for two more years of studying. However, gradually over my final year, I began to realise just how ready I was to start my career. Perhaps I felt I had learned all I could through University lectures; perhaps the work ethic brought about by final year projects gave me a desire to work towards more ambitious objectives; perhaps I was ready for a change in environment or perhaps I was just fed up with the ever-growing student debts! Whatever the reason, my time as a student, while filled with many fond memories and experiences, has definitely come to an end (for now at least), and I eagerly await the next adventure…