It was a visit to the world’s largest Hindu temple complex – Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi – that opened my eyes to the myriad of diverse projects that an engineer can be a part of. Built in under 5 years by 11,000 artisans and volunteers, and covering an area of over 8,000 m2, the 3,000 ton intricately hand-carved stone temple – with 234 ornately decorated pillars, 9 magnificent domes, and 20,000 statues – has been constructed without the use of structural steel; an incredible engineering feat! And, like most large-scale engineering projects, it required the efforts of engineers across all the different disciplines – which convinced me that, rather than focusing on only one specific branch of engineering, a general engineering course at university would be perfect for me.
To this end, the Engineering Science course at Oxford has offered immense flexibility and variety, such that by the end of my first year alone, I had built and tested a bridge, devised a transistor radio from scratch, and simulated (using a programming language called MATLAB) the launch and landing of a rocket on the moon!
My third year group project took things a step further, coalescing my interest in Information Engineering as well as in Biomedical Engineering, where we created a healthcare app – the Back Pain App – which now even features on the openclinical.net website.
Aside from the course, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures at Oxford. Serving as the University Undergraduate Ambassador, coupled with my role as St. John’s College Alumni and Development Representative in third year, has allowed me to interact with a number of engineering alumni – it’s always fascinating to hear about their time at university.
In my free time I play cricket for St. John’s and for the University, even though this is by far the worst sport if you have exams every Trinity Term! Last year, I was fortunate to be awarded a grant by my college, supporting a summer research project at Oxford (which also meant I could stay on for cricket!).
Whilst Oxford is a relatively expensive city to live in, I have been lucky to benefit from similar such grants throughout my time so far, and I know a lot of students have shared this experience. For instance, my college has a Blues sports grant which I have been able to use every year, along with a generous academic grant. I was also fortunate to be awarded the Casberd Scholarship for achieving a First in university exams, which is another form of support, meaning students are not often left in a situation where they have to worry about financial matters.
In terms of plans for the year ahead, I shall be working with Professor Michael Chappell on a challenging, but very interesting, Biomedical Engineering project: ‘Non-invasive Measurement of Blood Flow in the Brain using MRI’. It’s pretty hard to believe I have only a year left at Oxford and, although I have yet to decide my post-university plans, I’m strongly tempted to stay on for a DPhil just to spend an additional 3 years here!