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Student View - Studying Physics at University

by YPU Admin on May 29, 2020, Comments. Tags: Physics, science, STEM, student view, and UoM

Introduction

My name is Yulia Yancheva and I am currently a third-year MPhys Physics student at the University of Manchester. The Physics course at UoM is a combination of theoretical and mathematics subjects, programming, and experimental laboratories.

How is Physics Different at Uni?

One of the main differences between university and high school is that at university, the degree is focused mainly on one topic, in my case Physics. This allows students to gain a lot of subject-specific knowledge in significant depth. For example, in Physics, we do not only learn different subjects, but we also learn how to think like physicists. This allows us to often know the answer to questions that we have not seen before just because we have enough knowledge of the basic physics laws in the world that surrounds us.

Another major difference between high school and university is that in university, students are mainly independent. This means that it is a personal choice for each student how to organise their time and make sure they are up to date with all new material. There are lectures, tutorials and workshops that help us to organise our time but we do not have a teacher who makes sure we have attended and learned the new material – it is our responsibility to do that! Everybody tries to keep up with all the new lessons because at the end of each semester we have exams where we can show what we have learned during the semester.

Physics at Manchester

I have studied a very diverse range of subjects during my university degree in Physics. For example, in my first year, I had a module on astrophysics and cosmology during which I learned about stars, planets, telescopes and the Universe in general. I also had a module on quantum physics and relativity, which was taught by Prof Brian Cox. During this module, I learned about time and space as scientific concepts as well as about black holes and even various scientific paradoxes.

Apart from the theoretical subjects, I also spend a lot of time in the experimental laboratory. For example, in my third year, I was working with graphene – this is a material that was discovered by Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. I spent four weeks in which I was investigating the electrical properties of graphene and I found the work very interesting and engaging – it felt like real research. Here is a photo of myself doing a task that was required for this experiment – I was handling ammonia and hence the safety goggles and the face mask.

At the University of Manchester, Physics students work in pairs in the laboratory. We also have lab demonstrators who introduce us to the experiments and help us if we get stuck. However, in third and fourth year, most of the time students work with their lab partners without the demonstrators being there all the time. This makes the lab experience unique – there is a lot of brainstorming going on between lab partners and it almost feels like solving a puzzle.

Going Further...


 

Student View - Engineering is for Everyone

by YPU Admin on May 28, 2020, Comments. Tags: Engineering, materials, materials science, science, STEM, and student view

Introduction

My name is Gabriele and I was born and raised in the marvellous lands of Lithuania, but for the past 2 years I have been living in the UK. I am a second year Materials Science and Engineering student at The University of Manchester. Many people ask me what Materials Engineering is and why I choose this subject. Well, I have always enjoyed Physics, Chemistry and Maths and I was searching for a course combining all of them. Until, nanotechnologies and graphene popped into my radar and without a second thought, I applied to the university where graphene was found. As a teenager, I was always striving for challenges so studying a course with so many different fields (biomaterials, tissue engineering, polymers, alloys, ceramics) was exactly what I was looking for.

Why I Like Being an Engineer

Engineering is the most male-dominated field in STEM; therefore, whenever I tell people my degree, I receive stereotypical questions about being a female in engineering. Engineering captivates me as I am in lectures with world-class researchers and this inspires me to improve personally, contribute to society using tools of engineering and make a difference. Being so interested in the academic world, I asked my favourite lecturer if I could do a summer project in his team. After my first year at university, I got an internship at Manchester Institute of Biotechnology where I conducted research on self-healing polymers, made from oxidised lactose.

Imagine getting a one-page long description of an experiment, where no measurements, concentrations, catalysts are given and you have to make a final product, which in theory, when pressure is applied, should be able to recover the tears. I was working with extremely time-consuming and expensive products and every small mistake could cost a lot of money but because of my hard work, the results of this extremely challenging project surprised the PhD students and raised eyebrows of post-doctorates. No one expected the first-year university student to succeed and be able to contribute to the academic paper – but I did it!

Why I Joined a Society

Universities are famous for their range of different societies. As I was interested in Aeronautical Engineering, I joined Flight Simulation society where I soon became a part of the committee. During my time here I expanded my knowledge by designing my own aircraft with some help from Aerospace Engineering students and in my second year in the society, me and my teammate (we were the ‘strangest’ team, as I was the only female participating and he is a first-year student) designed a vertical take-off and landing aircraft and were chosen to represent the university at an aircraft designing and handling competition in the United States of America.

It is such an amazing feeling to be surrounded by like-minded people who are passionate about their field of studies and it has encouraged me to learn more and participate in discussions about new concepts. In the beginning, it was difficult to be a part of this society as I had no knowledge how an aircraft works, but slowly I became equal to all other members and involved in socials and events. This year, I taught first-year members how to use flight simulators, shared my experience about ‘living conditions’ in the simulator room and got to fly my aircraft in it with the full motion power – I felt like I was a real-life pilot!

What Lies Ahead?

During my second year at university I found out that Rolls Royce together with Target Jobs were conducting a competition for Female Undergraduate of the Year. Over 800 applications were sent and only 20 students were invited to attend an assessment centre in Rolls Royce. Proudly, I can say that I was one of those females. They were 2 amazing days, filled with networking, getting to know the company and finding out possibilities for after I graduate. One of Rolls Royce’s goals is to have more senior female engineers and attract them to the engineering world. This company conducts a wide range of projects where you can put yourself in a position of a real engineer and what it feels like working there and I really saw myself undertaking the challenges in a world-leading company and who knows – maybe in a couple of years I will go back there and lead a group of apprentices into the engineering world.

I cannot imagine studying another subject. Engineering intrigues me every day with new technologies, new materials being invented, and it gives me many different opportunities to improve.

Read more about engineering here:


 

Student View – What is it Like to Study Mechanical Engineering?

by YPU Admin on May 27, 2020, Comments. Tags: careers, Engineering, mechanical engineering, Research, STEM, student view, and UoM

Introduction

Hi, my name is Abdullah. I am 21 years old and currently in my second year studying at the University of Manchester. I study Mechanical Engineering which I find exciting, inventive and fun! So, what is it like and what can you do with an engineering degree?

Why I Chose Mechanical Engineering

First, let’s see the many reasons for studying it. I chose the course so I could become an engineer primarily because I enjoy STEM subjects. Studying engineering has enabled me to use the topics I liked the most in one course: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Furthermore, being an engineer provides the opportunity to apply your knowledge to real-world situations and be creative every day, solving real-world problems. Additionally, the rapid and constant developments mean the subject will only become more interesting and engineers will be more and more sought after. There are always plenty of jobs and you will never be bored with what you do.

A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineering Student

On a typical day, I wake up at around 7.30 am and travel by bus to the university which starts at 9 am most of the time. With around 6 or 7 hours at university, the day is made up of a mix of lectures and tutorials spread over 2 campuses: Main Campus and North Campus (where engineers are mainly based). On North Campus, lectures are always in the Renold Building. Also, there is the George Begg Building with exceptional computer facilities. This is where I prefer to work with friends; 2-3 hours of study is required each day. Finally, to research for assignments, I go to North Campus’s Sackville Street Building library for books. 

In terms of work outside classes, this contains coursework, reports based on previous lab sessions or rewatching lectures once uploaded online to further grasp the concepts. In addition, there are tutorial sheets that I need to attempt before the tutorial class. These are questions based on lectures in the past week of that module then the class tutor goes through the solutions. While this seems like a lot, there is still plenty of free time if you chose to study Mechanical Engineering!

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Using the Careers Service and career fairs at the university, I have learnt about options you have after you finish the course in lots of detail. The obvious one is to become a mechanical engineer which most students do. Mechanical engineers are mostly hired by the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. After the course, you can also do a Master’s degree which is another 1-year degree. With this, engineers are able to become chartered engineers in the future which means faster career progression and increased pay. 

Surprisingly, there is considerable demand for engineering students in investment banking too. Generally, it is working as an analyst to predict market trends because students are taught the numerical and analytical skills applicable to the role. Alternatively, I learnt at a university career fair that there is also scientific research in engineering as an option but this requires an extra degree.

Overall, I would conclude that studying Mechanical Engineering has a lot of benefits and an extensive range of excellent career prospects that it leads to. To learn more, details can be found on the university website in the links below:


 

Student View – Is Computer Science for You?

Introduction

My name is Gladys. I am doing my Master’s in Advanced Computer Science at the University of Manchester. Growing up watching movies portraying how scientists achieved some of their missions using various intelligent computer applications made me fond of computer-related courses. That's why I did a BSc degree in Computer Engineering. As the world is now technologically based and computing is the foundation of so many advancements happening in this digital era; my passion for computer science has been enhanced.

If someone asks me why I wanted to study Computer Science at the University of Manchester; my answer would be that I wanted to study this course at one of the best Universities in the UK and the world. With enough lecturers who know their area of interest intensely, it has led to the production of graduates/experts who are doing well in the computing industry hence inspiring new applicants like me, to opt for UoM.

Why You Should Study Computer Science

Everyone at one point wants to be a problem solver and the most important aspect of computer science is problem-solving! Most successful businessmen such as Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), the late Steve Jobs (founder of Apple), and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of  Facebook) are from the computer science industry. As a computer science student, you will study the design, development, and analysis of software and hardware used to solve problems in a variety of business, scientific, and social contexts.

Here's some reasons why I think Computer Science is such an important degree:

  • Computing and computer technology are part of just about everything that touches our lives from the cars we drive, the movies we watch, to the ways businesses and governments deal with us.
  • Computing enables you to make the difference in the world as it drives innovation in sciences from impacting the health industry, automation of the majority of business processes, and enhancing our social life just to name few.
  • Computing jobs are among the highest-paid and have the highest job satisfaction.

Why Manchester?

The University of Manchester is the best place to highly consider as it has state-of-the-art computer laboratories, experienced lecturers who provide constant support whenever you need it, big libraries with about 4 million books, the list goes on! UoM is home to great scientists who transformed the computing industry. Alan Turing, the pioneer of modern computing and a great Mathematician; and Thomas Kilburn, who invented the world's first electronic stored-program computer also known as "Manchester Baby". To honor them, the Computer Science building is named after Kilburn and the school of Mathematics building is named after Turing.

The computer science modules at all years of study are interesting and very engaging preparing you for a prosperous career, with room for modifications/improvements to keep up with the industry demand. I am confident in saying that this course has everything one would wish for in this computing industry. There’s room to learn modules such as software engineering where you will learn various programming languages such as python and java; machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, etc. and you can do modules from other courses too in order to strengthen your knowledge base.

The career path for computer science students is smooth as there is a huge increase in demand for computer science professionals all over the world. Some popular jobs are data scientists, software engineers (programmers and developers), cybersecurity specialists, game designers and developers, IT consultants, information system auditors, machine learning and artificial intelligence experts and so many other opportunities.

The Alan Turing Building on UoM Campus

Is Computer Science for Me? 

This is the one question most of you desire to get answers when you are faced with several options especially when it comes to University and degree selection. It is not necessary to be certain about what specialty in computer science you would like to follow. Just have some passion for technology and you will find yourself in the richness of this beautiful computing world. 

Keep calm and join computer science. The current and the future is digital!

To learn more about Computer Science at UoM, please visit: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00560/bsc-computer-science/entry-requirements/ 

For more information about Computer Science careers visit: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/computer-science


 

Researching Submarine ‘Rivers’ and Salt Topography

Introduction

My name is Zoë Cumberpatch and I’m half way through a PhD in Basin Studies at the Department of Earth and Environment, University of Manchester. From a young age I loved the outdoors and wanted to understand ‘why is that hill there?’, ‘why does one river flow faster than another?’ and ‘why do the rocks in Nottingham (where I’m from) look so different to the rocks in holiday destinations?’

My enjoyment and interest of Maths, Science and Geography at school led me to study Geology, Geography, Biology and Maths at A-level, before going on to study Geological Sciences at the University of Leeds. At Leeds, I preferred sedimentary rocks rather than igneous and metamorphic rocks and that fuelled my desire to study the applied side of sedimentology (with an MSc in subsurface energy at Imperial College London). 

During my MSc I was exposed to lots of different geological techniques and methods, and I wanted to integrate a number of these techniques to answer a research question. This led me to apply for multiple PhD projects and eventually I settled on my current project at the University of Manchester. My project looks at how deep marine landslides and ‘rivers’ can be controlled and re-routed by growing ‘salt diapirs’ (which are essentially hills made of salt). The properties of the rocks deposited by these flows can be very optimal for both producing hydrocarbons and storing carbon dioxide. Geologists are the experts of the earths subsurface and are vital for the ‘global energy transition’.

My PhD combines subsurface data (think of it as an ultrasound of the earth), fieldwork (travelling the world to study analogous exposed rocks), numerical modelling (creating geology using ‘ping pong balls’ and simulating geological time) and physical modelling (literally building hills in a flume tank and letting the water in).


My PhD has given me some incredible experiences; my highlights so far include:

1) Leading a field trip to my field area (northern Spain) for 10 industrial sponsors of our research group (picture of me in a hi-vis)
2) Winning best student poster at an International Conference in Salt Lake City
3) Spending my entire August 2019 doing fieldwork in Azerbaijan, after successfully winning a grant with a colleague
4) Working as a team to construct valid flume tank experiments in Utrecht
5) Being part of a NERC CDT (Centre of Doctoral training) which gives me a cohort of like-minded researchers, and 20 weeks of broad geological training (picture below shows a group of us in the Alps on a field course).

In depth (PhD Project Summary)

Layers of sedimentary rock form much of the Earth’s continental crust. These rocks are laid down in different depositional environments (e.g. terrestrial or marine). Layers of salt accumulate in regions where seawater incursions evaporate. Due to salt’s mechanical properties it becomes buoyant when sufficiently buried and can flow over geological time (much like glass), forming salt-cored ridges and domes on the ocean floor. Gravity moves sediment from the continents to the deep ocean basins, resulting in the deposition of rocks around the salt bodies. These salt bodies, which can be growing during deposition can cause deep water gravity flows to terminate completely or reroute their course. Geophysical ‘ultrasounds of the earth’ (seismic imaging) make it possible to study the subsurface, however areas around salt remain difficult to image in these data sets due to the chaotic representation of salt on seismic. Cliff sections in the Basque Country, Spain reveal ancient deep-marine rocks originally deposited next to salt-cored topography; these are used to understand sedimentary processes operating in deep-water and their effect on the sedimentary record. Fieldwork observations are combined with subsurface seismic data from the UK North Sea and numerical and physical models to appreciate the distribution of these sediments on a variety of scales and explore how this may influence potential hydrocarbon or carbon storage distribution and quality around salt bodies.

Going Further

For more information about all things geological, including resources for schools and colleges see the Geological Society: https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/

To learn more about the research happening in my department: https://www.ees.manchester.ac.uk/research/themes/

To learn more about the research happening in my research group: http://stratleeds.org.uk/

If you’re interested in sedimentology, look no further than: https://www.sepm.org/