I am originally from Bulgaria. I moved to Loughborough in 2018 and started studying Aeronautical Engineering there.

One might wonder how I chose this course… Well, I grew up playing with dolls (as many girls do), but I was also interested in cars. My passion for technology started then. When I was 8, I had my first maths competition where I came in 3rd place. That was the time when I realised that, not only did I like mathematics, but I was also good at it. Naturally, I started competing in physics and I absolutely loved it. At the age of 11 or 12, I knew I wanted to study something related to it. Since I always enjoyed the practical side more than the theoretical one, I decided engineering was the profession for me. 

As I was growing up, I always dreamt about moving to the UK for university. When I was 16, I chose Loughborough for a few reasons. 

  • It is a top 10 UK university for Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering (The Complete University Guide 2024).  
  • It provides the best facilities and coaches for sports.  
  • It has a super sociable campus that looks out of this world.  
  • Going on placement is encouraged and resources to do so are provided.  
  • Last but not least, there is lots of assistance for finding a job after graduation.  

After graduating from Loughborough University, I can also add that there are over 100 societies that anyone can join. I was part of the Salsa society as well as AU (Athletic Union) Dance, and let me tell you, I made a lot of friends and received lots of support from everyone.  

My first year was full of practical labs, which made engineering so much more than just numbers. We learned how to use complex machinery as well as design mechanical equipment (such as beams, supports, bolts, etc). Then guess what – we got to build what we designed! The lab work was done in a high-tech STEM building. Not only that, but we learned how to fly a flight simulator.  

In our final year, that flight simulator became an actual plane! As part of a coursework task, each and every one of us went on a plane at Cranfield, then flew around doing some flight manoeuvres. 

As I did not go to a British school, I studied following a different school system. Consequently, that led to many difficulties in my first year. However, there was support that was provided for maths and coding, which I personally found quite useful. There are also mentors that you can rely on when needed. 

Sometimes, when I struggled to understand how the system works in general, I got free advice from the Student Voice Committee. I thought it was pretty good as the people there are genuinely trying to help you. 

Karina Penkova

I did my placement with ExxonMobil. I worked at Fawley refinery down in Southampton, which is the biggest refinery in the UK. My role was a Fixed Equipment Engineer. I was on site every day doing internal/external inspections of various mechanical equipment, as well as optimising processes.

Going on placement and especially doing what I did, where I did it, was the best decision I have ever made.

I got to apply what I had learned at Loughborough University, experience how complex a petrochemical plant can be, see how fast-paced and fascinating the energy industry is, and last, but not least, have fun whilst doing it all! 

I learned how to deal with stress and a huge amount of convoluted data. This skill helped me so much in my final year at university.  Time management as well as technical knowledge was also put into practice and this is something that gave me a good base for going back to academia.

I would highly recommend going on a placement as you may only be able to do it once in your life and the experience, knowledge and memories you get are irreplaceable.

After doing my wonderful placement, I was convinced I wanted to stay in energy. When I graduated, I joined Subsea7 as a graduate engineer working in the Business Improvement team in Paris, France. I am on a graduate scheme, so I will be moving to Installation and Project Engineering in the UK in March 2024. 

I recently did my BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) at Warsash Maritime Academy, which is a training course that everyone who wants to go offshore must do. The training is quite extreme, and it includes, but is not limited to, firefighting, helicopter underwater escape and sea survival. Now that I have passed the course, I am excited about my first trip on a vessel in the ocean!

Loughborough University and the Aeronautical Engineering course gave me the foundation for how to deal with engineering problems and provided me with highly technical knowledge.

The course is intense and the engineering students must deal with managing problems while trying to enjoy the best years of their lives (by doing sports, going out or doing whatever they like during their spare time).

It provided me with the education that I could have only dreamed of as a kid.

The highlights of my time outside my course would be meeting lovely people and doing sports with them! The University and campus life provides everyone with lots of opportunities to meet people – there are societies, sports, social events from your department, student halls and much more.

Being part of any organisation like Loughborough, getting better at your hobbies and finding people with similar interests, is what Loughborough life is all about.

The advice I would give to someone considering studying this course would be to do it! 

It is challenging and hard work goes hand in hand with discipline, but it is so worth it. The world would not be able to function without engineers around, especially good ones. 

I have friends (including myself) working at Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Red Bull Racing, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Mercedes-AMG, BAE, Airbus and more. There are Loughborough representatives everywhere.

I can assure you that Loughborough University will provide you with the education you need to be able to work later on in the biggest companies in the world.

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