I studied my undergraduate degree, Product Design Engineering (BEng) in the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering. Part of my degree was to conduct a year-long, individual project in my final year. During this project, which involved using lasers, I developed a great interest in laser processing; using lasers in the lab was fun and exciting! During this time, I met my now supervisors who introduced me to the opportunity that is now my PhD.

Industry links

One of the reasons I decided to stay at Loughborough for my PhD is down to the sense of belonging I feel when I am here among fellow students and staff. In addition to this, I was attracted to stay because of the world-class engineering reputation held by the University. The fantastic links that the Wolfson School has to industry meant that I was able to join an industry-sponsored PhD project which enables me to work closely alongside engineering company, Renishaw. This has really enhanced my PhD experience and has helped me to see my research in a real-world context.

I have been able to access a wide range of facilities across the University, including workshops and laboratories, which have allowed me to perform research to the highest possible standard. Additionally, the Doctoral College provides lots of useful resources and training sessions, specifically for Doctoral Researchers, that has allowed me to develop professional skills, alongside my research.

My ambitions

I aspire to become a specialist consultant in a research institute or a research-driven engineering company. My PhD, which is funded by the government (EPSRC) and Renishaw, has enabled me to see how my research sits in a real-world environment. Working closely alongside Renishaw has also given me the opportunity to apply this and prepare for a role within industry whilst still studying in an academic environment. I meet with my collaborators at least once a quarter to discuss my progress, as well as having the opportunity to go and visit their sites in the UK. I am planning to go and work at Renishaw’s main UK site for a few weeks to perform experiments and research that will contribute to my PhD progression.

PhD highlights

I have really enjoyed getting to know a community of other PhD students and researchers across the School. One of my favourite things is learning more about other PhD students’ research projects. Additionally, I have loved being part of undergraduate final year projects by advising and working alongside them on projects that relate to my own PhD.

During my PhD, I was given the opportunity to present my research to the President of the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers). I also got to witness student Sam Rogers fly over the University’s Design School in the world’s fastest jet-powered suit – which was a very exciting way to spend one of my lunch breaks!

And now looking forwards, as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifting, I am excited to start travelling internationally to present my research, which I am given the opportunity to do as part of my PhD program.

I have been a part of LSU Classical while being at the University, which is a society of classical musicians making up an orchestra and a wind band. I have also been part of the Peer Mentor scheme, coordinated through LSU Student Voice, which is a great initiative to provide mentorship to new starters at the University, to welcome and assist them in adapting to university life.

Advice for applicants

My advice to someone considering a PhD is to choose a research topic you are passionate about. This will enable you to maintain the endurance you need to complete it during the inevitable highs and lows. I would also say that it is important to choose a supervisory team that you know will support you through ‘thick and thin’.

Anna Tholen
Back to all stories