Department of Materials

Undergraduate study

Industrial placements

All of our undergraduate courses provide the option of a year out working in industry. The Department’s close links with industrial partners means we are able to provide our students with considerable help in sourcing and securing their placement.

We send over 15% more engineering students on year-long engineering placements than any other UK university.

(2016/17 HESA UG Student Record: Engineering & Technology)

Placement roles can range from positions in Formula 1 motor racing companies, aircraft and automotive companies, large to small engineering companies, to marketing and business management positions in industry. Companies who have employed our placement students in the past include E.ON, Rolls-Royce, General Motors, BMW, Smiths Medical, GKN, Unilever, Tata Steel and Mercedes-Benz to name just a few.

Key benefits of an industrial placement

  • Improved job prospects. A placement gives you real world experience that will help you stand out when applying for your first engineering job. Some placement students are offered a permanent job with their host company when they graduate
  • £15,000 - £20,000. All placements are fully salaried.
  • Professional status. A year of industrial work experience can contribute towards achieving professional status.
  • Develop professional skills. Time management, team working, presentation skills and project management are all developed on placement.
  • Professional practice. Put your knowledge gained during your degree into practice within a working environment alongside professional engineers.
  • Improved academic performance. Placement students often demonstrate an improved performance on return from a placement due to the additional experience and maturity they have gained.
  • Additional qualification. The Diploma in Industrial Studies (DIS) is awarded to students on successful completion of the placement.
  • Professional contacts. The placement year is an ideal opportunity to start making industrial contacts at your host company and amongst their customers and suppliers.

Companies providing recent placements 

  • Bentley Motors
  • Thales
  • Diamond Light Source Ltd
  • Air Defense and Space
  • British Steel
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council
  • 3M
  • Airbus
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Caterpillar
  • Mercedez Benz
  • Uniper Technologies
  • LMCC
  • Pirelli Tyres
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Hilti
  • Monitor Coatings
  • Bosch Rexroth
  • GKN Hybrid Power
  • Ransomes and Jacobsen Cummins
  • SG Technologies
  • Magnesium Elektron

Help to find a placement

Our students are keenly sought after by high profile engineering companies who know from past experience that Loughborough students are enthusiastic and equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive contribution to their organisation.

We have an Industrial Training Coordinator who gathers and supplies information about placement opportunities and advises students on what to expect from the placement experience. The placement process is overseen by the Schools Industrial Placement Tutor and we make every effort to help our students secure placements which match their interests and ambitions.

Choosing to take a placement

You can opt to take a placement at any point before it starts but most companies interview in the Autumn term of the preceding year so it is advisable to have made a decision by then. If you are not sure whether to take a placement you do not have to specify a sandwich option on your UCAS form.

During the placement, an engineer nominated by your employer will supervise you and you will also be visited by a university tutor at your place of work. Throughout the year in industry, you are required to write reports about your progress and experiences with your host company. On successful completion of the placement you will be awarded an additional qualification called the Diploma in Industrial Studies (DIS).

Student Profiles

Our strong links with the industry allows the majority of our students to embark on a salaried industrially-relevant placement year where they will develop both academically and professionally. Find out more about what our students experiences in their year in industry below.

Joesph Howe, BEng Automotive Materials Student, Bentley

Have you had any previous work experience before this placement?

I have had little in the way of engineering work prior to my placement however I did spend a short amount of time whilst at sixth form working for an architectural technician which was useful particularly in the development of my CAD ability.

Did you have a choice of placements and if so why did you choose Bentley?

The placement scheme at Bentley is a very well established program not to mention it being one of the most prestigious top range automotive companies in the industry today. In addition to this the placement scheme offered to me by Bentley complimented my degree choice better than any other and gave me a chance to put into practise much of the theory I have learnt over the course of my first and second year at Loughborugh.

Summary of work to be undertaken or already achieved:

On a day to day basis the work varies hugely depending on what the environment within Bentley is like at the time. New developments are constantly being made to processes in the plant and parts for the vehicles and these changes all require in depth testing before being signed off – the laboratory is where all of these tests take place. Write ups for the research conducted to present to the relevant people make up the other half of the work done in the department.

What are you enjoying most about your placement?

The opportunity to use my knowledge for practical applications and see the work I am doing impacting the different areas of the business.

Have you decided what type of industry/job you would like when you finish?

Materials testing and research has proved even more interesting, since starting my DIS year at Bentley, than I had ever imagined – to get a job similar to the role I have here would be my ultimate goal.

What are your thoughts about Materials as a degree choice?

Materials is probably not everyone’s first choice when choosing an engineering degree but for me it has just got better as it has progressed. It’s a great way to specialise in a particular area of engineering whilst leaving the opportunities with regards to types of businesses you can work for completely open as materials are used in ALL industries!

Pawel Malon, BEng Automotive Materials Student, Jaguar Land Rover

"During my placement at Jaguar Land Rover I've been exposed to every side of materials engineering, from Body Crash CAE, laboratory based failure investigation and raw material cost projects. From day one I’ve been given projects and responsibilities allowing me to put my knowledge and skills gained as a materials student into practice and contribute in a professional environment. Being able to get the experience and knowledge I'm gaining here at an industry defining company is an opportunity not to be missed."

Jenny Wilson, BEng Design with Engineering Materials, Smiths Medical

“I spent my placement year working as an Industrial Trainee Packaging Engineer for Smiths Medical in Kent. We were thrown straight into real work which was very enjoyable and gave me a steep but manageable learning curve. I received lots of training, as being a medical device company, Smiths have strict guidelines for both report writing and practical work. I worked on major inter-departmental projects as correspondent for the packaging department, also I carried out projects of my own including the design of a new pack and introducing a new piece of testing equipment. My materials and manufacturing knowledge from my course was really beneficial when working on packaging design and development and I enjoyed my placement so much that I hope to ultimately get a job in this area.”

George Hayward BEng Automotive Materials, Heineken

“During my Placement year I’ve been working as a Project Manager in the Procurement Development team at HEINEKEN. The placement is based in the Netherlands in the Zoeterwoude office which is located about 30 minutes from Amsterdam.”

What are you doing on your placement?

“From the start of my placement I was placed on the INTREPID project team. This was an incredibly exciting opportunity as INTREPID was the most ambitious global project HEINEKEN has ever undertaken in the procurement sector. Essentially, INTREPID is a toolkit re-platforming project for sourcing, contract authoring and archiving, planning & performance management, and spend analysis (the entire Source-to-Contract suite was replaced). This was rolled out across the 69 countries in the HEINEKEN Global Procurement community and has therefore set a high standard for the type of work I’ll continue to do this year.

“Throughout my time at HEINEKEN I’ve had a range of tasks to complete, including; preparation and sending of communications to the procurement community, data management and validation, and creating training material and running sessions for the new toolkit.  I’ve also been allocated as the project lead for the creation and development of a data quality dashboard which is both a challenging and exciting opportunity.”

How did you find the placement?

“You may have noticed that my placement is not engineering specific, however, project management has always been of interest to me. The process of getting the placement was honestly a bit of a rollercoaster but was completely worth it! The role was in fact forwarded on by a friend from the social sciences department, and honestly, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to work for a company like HEINEKEN! It was advertised on the Loughborough careers network in late July, and therefore, was a very quick turnaround. I had two interviews by the middle of August and was offered the role a couple of weeks later. With the placement beginning on the 25thSeptember there was a lot to organise in a short amount of time but the company and staff in the Materials department were very helpful. I think my experience is a great example of flexibility within the department in not doing a subject specific placement, and I’ve found that there are a number of transferrable skills between my study and job.”

What extra opportunities you have gained from doing the placement, outside of the placement itself?

“I’m currently living in Leiden which is a beautiful, typically Dutch student town filled with restaurants, bars and canals. The most significant opportunity for me outside of work has been the chance to experience a new culture, meet a variety of new people, along with the ease of travelling to new places around Europe (I’ve already visited several new cities!). The language isn’t really an issue at all, although I would love to learn a new language, Dutch is very difficult to pick up and everyone speaks English which is ideal. The food is an interesting change, but I would highly recommend the “bitterballen” for anyone who hasn’t tried them, and I have to say they taste even better on the rooftop bar of the HEIENEKEN Experience!” (Photograph – George at the Heineken Experience)

How will your placement help you in your future career?

“The work is very different from my typical day at university, however, I will most certainly be bringing back a strong working mind-set for my final year. In terms of my future career, I feel project management is a role that I would like to continue, whether this be in procurement or an area closer to my study.  It has also helped me understand that in the future I would want to work for a large multinational company, as I’ve thrived from being a part of the inner machine of one this year. The placement year has really opened me to the possibility of working abroad in the future, an idea which I was against in the past, and I would highly recommend prospective placement students to consider an overseas internship.”

Perkins Engines Company Ltd/Caterpillar

I was in Advanced Materials Technology UK, which is a materials laboratory separate from Perkins Engines but part of Caterpillar. I ran some projects for the company and liaised with external labs, did materials failure reports and materials checks for new components/parts that go on the engines made at Perkins Engines. Occasionally I got to work on parts outside of Perkins such as transmission housings and excavator buckets.

The placement was very relevant to the course and it was good to see how information given in lectures translates into industry.

I was also part of the Young Professionals that every Caterpillar site has. It is dedicated to young people such as graduates, placement students and apprentices which supports individuals to get together outside of work with people of a similar age.

The best parts of the placement were:

  • seeing how industry actually works. The factory on site can churn out 500,000 engines per year. These aren’t small engines and aren’t basic engines so to see how an efficient workplace based on ergonomics and automation can affect productivity is pretty cool.
  • visiting other company sites in the UK and being supported in CSR roles (great perks!)
  • being in an active role in the department. I actively applied myself to projects that had real life impacts on the company.

At the first it was quite difficult making the transition from study to work, as this was my first office job, there is a different way of going about work and how you prioritise things. I also found it difficult, in the beginning, to learn on the job as it was so different to university. While at university you can study and revise but there is no way to sit down and read a textbook on office work.  Once I was settled though, working to a strict routine was very helpful to how I ran my day.

This placement will help me when I return to university, as It will allow me to better prioritise what work needs to be done. I think it will also help with focusing on tasks as I work more efficiently now. Getting up early every morning will probably help as well…

Stuart Dalgleish

Toby Reid MEng Materials Engineering, Meggitt

I am currently halfway through my 12 month placement at Meggitt Airframe Systems, a division of Meggitt PLC, working in its Advanced Research and Technology department for the Polymer Seals Group.

As an Advanced Research and Technology Engineer I have been given a main 12 month project to work on, key to the future of the business for the next 5 years and beyond. I have also been involved in multiple other projects including looking into the degradation of rubber under extreme temperatures and the antistatic properties of rubber when filled with a novel filler network.

My project’s aims however were to remove a single source material that was critical to the performance of a polymer seal in an engine fire scenario, to put it into context rubber fire seals have to withstand a 1100°C flame (around the melting point of copper) for a minimum of 15 minutes and still perform their duty of sealing components together or containing fluid, whether that be air, fuel, oil or a mixture of all three. A tricky task for any material, let alone rubber.

Therefore I have been researching and testing the latest materials, designing and formulating new rubber compounds and comparing them against existing materials to assess the overall performance gain.

From day one I was treated like any other engineer, I was expected to make business calls, write professional e-mails, present my own ideas and be an active member of meetings. I also had to write reports and jump in when required to solve any day to day production issues that arose. With my project I had the responsibility of planning and keeping it on track and on budget, whilst being wary of intellectual property loss in a highly competitive, complex and regulated industry. While all this responsibility may sound daunting, the support network surrounding me and the willingness of everyone at Meggitt to answer questions and help me to learn made it easy to settle in and get up and running quickly.

I was also able to get hands on, using rubber processing equipment to make samples and prototype products. I was fully trained on how to use the equipment safely and correctly, and taught the proper handling and the PPE requirements when dealing with new chemicals and materials.

Toby test seal x 300

Some highlights of my time so far

  • My first trip to an advanced materials conference to see what technology is currently available and talk about what people are working on for the future
  • The first time my new material passed the fire testing standard, proving that the research I had done in the first months had been correct and that the results on paper could be replicated in real life
  • My first meeting with a supplier, it was great to be able to present my material and work together to see how they could support us in the future
  • Presenting my new material to designers and project engineers and getting their feedback about how they would integrate it within future products

This placement also gave me the opportunity to attend materials and engineering shows, conferences and seminars and speak to industry experts about their latest developments, building up my professional network for the future and broadening my knowledge of all the industries surrounding materials engineering.

Future goals

In the next six months I am looking at getting the project signed off internally to a technology readiness level of 5 or 6 and then hand it over to be shown to customers for evaluation, if all goes well we could see it flying within 2 years.

In these past six months my interest in the research and development of new materials has increased even more. And my knowledge and intrigue in respect of the complex engineering problems and solutions that surround the aerospace industry has shown me that this is the direction that I want to go in.

Meggitt logo x 300

Returning to university

One of the main reasons I cannot recommend a placement enough is the satisfaction of when you get to use the knowledge, techniques and skills we are taught in an academic environment and translate them across into an engineering environment. My time so far has refreshed my interest in engineering and shown me why everything that I have learnt is important. The work I have done at Meggitt has taught me how I personally work best, and has confirmed what I can do when I have a clear goal in mind, a solid plan to achieve that goal and the help and support of my fellow engineers and specialists."

Amy Morgan, BEng Biomaterials Engineering, Innovia Films

“Biomaterials Engineering was the perfect combination of my love of Chemistry, Biology and Product Design (which were my A Level subjects). I also loved the idea of a challenging engineering side to the degree and the course featured a variety of subjects from pure maths and programming to CAD work and anatomy. I felt it was an area of science and engineering in which I could really make a difference in the future, whether that be in academia or in industry, with the added opportunity of a placement year. 

“The department were incredibly supportive when initially searching for placement opportunities. We received many emails from the department that advertised opportunities and placement fayres that hosted lots of companies were frequent and a great place to network. The Careers Network based on campus were available to check CVs and provide mock interviews. Personally, I really appreciated my personal tutor meetings where the idea to apply for the company I work for now originally came up.

Working within the plastics industry was definitely an area of interest to me, especially with the public interest around sustainability and the environment at the moment. The industry is moving forward on this topic and I thought it would be exciting to be part of helping the current push towards conserving our environment.”

My experience

“I’m currently working in the Analytical Department of R&D at Innovia Films. A lot of work is based around materials characterisation of polymers and testing new product ideas. I’ve been trained in thermal analysis techniques, spectroscopy and microscopy. I had learnt these techniques in lectures but to really see them in action and be trusted to run the equipment every day really solidifies what you’re taught on the course. After placement, I think it will be easier to understand concepts because I can imagine how they would be implemented in industry.”

Placement highlights

“I’ve loved heading up a research project on the current hot topic of recycling plastic packaging. The feeling of joy, excitement and relief that comes with a break-through in research is definitely a highlight for me so far this year. Also, the company is based in the north of Cumbria which means I have the blessing of living in the Lake District for a year. The scenery is beautiful and outdoor adventure has become a new passion, one I wouldn’t have discovered without a placement!

“I was a little nervous about working within the plastics industry, especially with all the negative media attention at the moment, as I didn’t want to be seen as part of the ‘problem’. Since starting my placement I’ve realised that these companies are at the forefront of research and development in sustainability and working in industry is exciting. I’ve seen that industry is a place where you can be really influential and I’m still passionate about the difference materials can make to product improvement and conservation of our environment.”

My advice to someone considering this course with a placement year

“I would say go for it! Biomaterials is an up-and-coming area of study that can lead to all sorts of exciting opportunities in sustainable design, material science, analysis and the biomedical sector just to name a few. There is a wide range of placements related to the course to choose from.

“Gathering ideas and learning from more experienced folk who are as passionate about a topic area as you are, is also a great way to spend one year of the course.”

My university highlights

“I formed part of the Christian Union Committee in my second year. My role included organising the Carol Service at Emmanuel Church that was attended by over 400 people. The real sense of achievement for me came from seeing LSU Classical, LSU Sing, LS Dance Club and the LSUCU all working together to make the evening great.”