In 2017 Oana was a recipient of the UKESF Award for Female Undergraduates, an award for female UKESF-Headstart Summer School attendees who went on to take Electronics at a UKESF partner university. Oana is now studying for a MEng in Electronic Engineering at the University of Southampton. She shares her thoughts on the experience and on Electronics in general below.
How did you find the UKESF-Headstart Summer School?
I absolutely loved the UKESF-Headstart Summer School at the University of York. It was educational, and the excellent planning made it continually exciting – it was truly a snippet of what university life would be like. I gained invaluable skills, such as soldering, working effectively with peers I had just met, and working independently while learning from the expert staff at the university.
Going into the course, I already knew I wanted to study Electronics, and this Headstart experience really solidified that for me. Even though my interest in mechanical and electrical engineering was minimal, the visit to the Drax Power Station [pictured above] proved to be useful to my Physics studies leading up to university, as we were given very detailed explanations on how power plants functioned.
In addition to the academic parts of the course, I also made some great friends and had a wonderful time with them visiting The Shambles, the beautiful historical area of York. Many of them are still my friends, and some are now on my MEng Electronic Engineering course at the University of Southampton!
What made you choose Electronics?
I initially wanted to study Computer Science, as I was highly enjoying my GCSE Computer Science course. I also liked Mathematics and thinking outside the box, and it seemed it would offer fantastic career opportunities.
After attending numerous university open days, I realised that there was a strong division between Computer Science and Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE). I thought that in order to completely understand a system inside out, I would need the programming knowledge from Computer Science, in conjunction with an understanding of how the system physically functioned, which could only be gained from EEE.
I looked for a course and university which were in line with my views on the need to combine Computer Science and EEE, rather than approach them as separate subjects. Therefore the best option for me seemed to be Electronics, which I see as the necessary bridge between Computer Science and EEE. It felt this approach to engineering would help me perform better both in industry or if I decide to start my own business.
Electronic Engineering at the University of Southampton is so far proving to be the perfect choice for me.
As you’re from Belgium, why did you choose to study in the UK?
I had attended the British School of Brussels for the last ten years. I therefore wished to study in English, despite this being my third language. Unfortunately, the only English-speaking courses offered by Belgian and Dutch universities were for a Master, but I needed a Bachelor first. The UK was always a strong option for me, as I had been going to university open days (eight in total) in the UK since I started my GCSEs, and believed the education to be of very high standard.
What are your hopes and career plans for the future?
My plans for the future have yet to fully take shape, as I have only just finished my first year of university. I am strongly considering applying for a UKESF Scholarship next year, which will also allow me to have a summer work placement. After graduation, I may think of starting my own business, or perhaps first joining a company in order to gain more experience. It is difficult to say without having had any work placements yet, which I hope will enable me to appreciate the ways in which theory translates into practice.
What do you think about the future of Electronics?
We’re living in exciting times, with electronics at the heart of our dynamic and globalised society. Progress in this field is so steep that I believe by the time I graduate, careers which do not even exist today will become available to us. Especially exciting to me are the advances in AI, deep learning, autonomy and swarm robotics, and maybe other technologies that we haven’t even begun to think of right now, all of which are inherent to the fourth industrial revolution. Electronics in my view represents the foundation for them all.