- Subject area
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
I chose to study my course at Loughborough University, in particular the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, because there is a high calibre research culture and drive for innovation.
Manufacturing engineering is often considered as only being the process of making a product from raw materials, however, it is a holistic discipline involving the combination of manufacturing processes, technology, human-centricity, decision making and resilience. It encompasses these ideas as the manufacturing industry continues to focus on achieving the sustainable development goals and these core values are at the heart of manufacturing degrees in the Wolfson School.
I found the quality of teaching to be of a high standard; exams and coursework are the right level of challenging to push you as an engineer to utilise taught material. The feedback I received was clear and communicated well to show where I could improve.
We were taught standard engineering practices like risk assessment, health and safety assessment and intellectual property, which I found was an advantage when I went on placement. The training on using the equipment within the facilities enable me to explore more research methods and gain skills to support my career development.
Throughout my time at Loughborough, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the tools and skills required for a successful career for any career path, whether that is academia, industry, or a different career sector altogether. Of course, through my degree, I gained fundamental manufacturing, engineering, management, and technical skills, but I also gained many soft skills like self-confidence, team working and responsiveness to change.
One of the things I really liked about this course was that there was the flexibility to explore how your passions align to research and prospective projects. In my third year, the University offered a range of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) summer internships, which I applied for, which set me on the path to pursuing a PhD. As a result of completing the research, I was offered the opportunity by my supervisor to continue my research in collaborate with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), which is what I am doing now.
My PhD is entitled ‘Laser Reconditioning of Cutting Tools with Industrial Automation’. The research is focused on extending the life of industrial tools using laser machining, to reduce the resource consumption of rare-earth metals and the energy associated with producing them. Reconditioning is an environmentally conscious manufacturing alternative to discarding or recycling to bring a component back to acceptable quality. My research involves using computer vision and artificial intelligence for automated wear inspection to inform a decision-making framework to select potential reconditioning strategies.
I am developing and programming automated laser repair strategies from the information obtained from the inspection using various software such as Python, MATLAB, and CAD/CAM packages using digitalisation – which involves coding and experimental work to optimise the surface integrity based on the laser parameters. Finally, application testing and evaluation of the performance of reconditioned tools. The use of smart and data-driven manufacturing can allow for automation in repair and reconditioning applications for easy integration into current manufacturing.
I am also involved in teaching and supervision for both undergraduate and postgraduate students within Loughborough University.
My undergraduate course helped me fully understand how to integrate knowledge from the different disciplines of manufacturing through the use of relevant industrial projects, which is a key skill in research and developing novel research directions. The various methods of study in the course (lectures, workshops, group work, practical and lab work) really demonstrate how to apply critical thinking, through real case studies, examples and project work.
The course has national and global connections which helped in getting summer internships and placements, offering many opportunities specific to Loughborough students. As I was exposed to what research was like during my degree (through the EPSRC internship) I felt more confident about the opportunities available to me before finishing my studies which set me on the path to pursuing a PhD.
The University has inspired me through its drive to innovate and use research to have a meaningful impact.
Additionally, Loughborough principally makes sure every student knows what support is available to them and how to ask for it. Student Services are available for anything from wellbeing and money advice to accommodation help, and beyond. The disability support team has been great in developing practical strategies suited to each student to enable them to progress their studies.
It is a great experience to be surrounded and supported by a community of great people. There are a wide range of opportunities, activities and projects to get involved with for anyone.