Current and former students share their experiences of studying in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment.
Energy and Environmental Engineering graduate, Colin Cochrane, reflects on his experience studying at Edinburgh Napier University.
“I’m an Energy and Environmental Engineering graduate from Edinburgh Napier University”
Before studying at Edinburgh Napier University, I had previously completed an honours degree in Graphic Communication with Design, however after having a predominantly engineering based career following this, I decided to return to university in the hopes of being able to develop my skills and knowledge in the subject and further my career possibilities. I chose to study Energy and Environmental Engineering at Edinburgh Napier as I had completed a year at West Lothian College on the affiliate programme they have with the university, which allowed me direct entry into Year 2 of the course.
“The staff and students at Edinburgh Napier were very supportive and friendly”
My experience at Edinburgh Napier University was very positive. I found the staff and my fellow students to be very supportive and friendly. I met many friends on this course which I was grateful for, particularly in times when deadlines were approaching and during exam periods. Lecturers were always approachable and willing to help which made university much less stressful and gave everyone the best chance to succeed.
“I learnt technical, personal and communication skills during my time at university”
I developed a lot of skills whilst I was studying, both engineering based skills such as the use of programmes including Autodesk Inventor, Microsoft Project and MATLAB, as well as personal skills that will help me in my career such as time management, teamwork, leadership, data analysis and communication skills. These skills I have learned during my time at university have given me the confidence to begin my career knowing I can succeed within an engineering-based environment.
“I got to travel to Kolkata thanks to a grant made available by Edinburgh Napier”
A large part of my final year was focused on my honours project, where I researched and designed an electric rickshaw for use in India, with the main focus of reducing the physical demands of the driver and help the impoverished community of rickshaw drivers. As part of the project, I was able to travel to Kolkata, India with financial help from the Edinburgh Napier Small Project & Mobility Grant Scheme. This gave me the opportunity to collect first-hand data by testing the current rickshaws, speaking to drivers and observing the local topography and traffic conditions.
“This project has opened a lot of doors for me”
After completing my honours project, I was a speaker at the annual Electric Vehicle Conference held by the Transport Research institute at Edinburgh Napier University. Through speaking at this event I have been able to gather interest in the project and I am currently in talks with the a Scottish based engineering company to develop the project further with the aim of being able to take the new rickshaw design to India, where I hope I can improve the working conditions for the rickshaw drivers.
“Edinburgh Napier enabled to travel across the world for my projects”
My biggest highlight from my time at Edinburgh Napier were the numerous opportunities given to the students. As well as my travels to India for my honours project, I also took part in an industrial exchange to China, which was a great experience that gave us an insight into the standards and practices of the industry internationally.
“My advice would be to put yourself out there”
My best piece of advice to students or recent graduates would be attend networking events within the field you wish to work in, most of my job opportunities have come from speaking to people at events such as conferences. Also don’t be shy to ask for what you want, companies at networking events are often on the lookout for talent and as a graduate you will be well placed to contribute to their business. Be confident and put yourself out there.
Quantity Surveying student, Emily Docherty, talks about her experience at Edinburgh Napier University
“I’m a BSc Quantity Surveying student at Edinburgh Napier University, in my first year of study”
Anyone who has applied for quantity surveying, or is in the process of doing so, knows there’s limited universities in Scotland who offer it. With this in mind, I wanted to make sure I chose the best university for me. I researched the course at Edinburgh Napier and came to some of the open days that were put on for those who were interested in going to university.
The course content and the flexibility of the modules made it the best quantity surveying degree for my needs. The scheduling of the course allows for one and a half days a week to gain part-time work experience in the field and with Edinburgh Napier offering a quantity surveying degree part-time, I knew that the course would be flexible. This fitted in with my lifestyle and means I could get first-hand experience in the industry before I graduated.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of university”
I’ve honestly enjoyed every moment of studying bsc quantity surveying at university. At school, I wasn’t the most studious but since coming to Edinburgh Napier and doing something I enjoy, I’ve found I’m working a lot harder than I have in the past.
I’ve started doing thigs like coming home and telling my family what I’ve learned that day, going over notes on the train to and from university, and even doing the suggested reading! I also surprised myself when I passed everything with merit in my first trimester, it adds to the reassurance that I’ve chosen the right subject. It helps that the lecturers enjoy what they’re talking about and have that open-door policy anytime, to help you if you’re struggling.
“University has improved my confidence and taught me how to put myself out there”
One of the main skills I’ve picked up from my time at university is how to network. I’ve learnt the importance of trying to speak to everyone. I’m already a chatty person, but I understand now that it’s important to put yourself out there and get to know everyone, because everyone you meet will know something that you don’t. I’ve also learnt the value of starting coursework as soon as you get it, and not putting it off. This was a lifesaver for me, it allowed me to relax in the last few weeks of a module while all my classmates were rushing to get things done.
“Construction interests me, from the initial cost plans to the final built project”
Previous to this course I’d always worked in construction related roles and had interactions with quantity surveyors. The job has always been what I want to do for the future.
The whole aspect of construction, and what is taking off in quantity surveying, interests me from the initial cost plans to the final built project so I knew as a quantity surveyor I would be part of all of it.
“I’m aiming to get a year-long industry internship in third year”
In third year, I will have the opportunity to secure a year-long quantity surveying degree placement which will be fully graded.
I’ve already been applying to summer placements in the hope of getting in with a company early on. I have also been on a site visit the new St. James Centre site in the centre of Edinburgh, which was an eye-opener, I’d recommend it to those who have never been on a construction site.
“I’d recommend the course because the modules interlink with each other very well”
I would definitely recommend the course; the modules interlink with each other very well. I’ll get a lightbulb moment when I’m sitting in a lecture sometimes, because I’ve just made a connection with what other lecturers were telling me about, and that’s really satisfying. I also like that we are mixed in with all the other surveyors, it’s a great way to meet new people and learn from them as sometimes our jobs can intertwine.
“My advice would be to do your research”
My advice to people considering studying quantity surveying would be to do your research. It’s important to find out what quantity surveying actually is and how it is used, as this will help you to make sure you’re choosing the right course.
Come to the university, go to open days, email the lecturers and ask questions. These are ways that will help give you a better understanding of the course and they will give you much more information than reading the blurb on the website.
Lastly, apply. If you’re like me, you will enjoy the course and be excited by the possibilities of where quantity surveying can lead you.
Final year Architectural Technology student, Sophie Orr, describes studying at Edinburgh Napier and what it’s like winning gold in the 2019 WorldSkills UK Live Awards
"I’m Sophie Orr, I’m 24-years-old and I’m in fourth year at Edinburgh Napier University studying Architectural Technology"
I enrolled at a different university after leaving high school and studied architecture for two years. After a while though, I found that it wasn’t for me, so I decided to leave, and I took a year away from education. I then got into college in Motherwell, to study Computer Aided Architectural Design and Technology. I really enjoyed the course and got my HND after two years there, and was able to go straight to third year at Edinburgh Napier to study for my Architectural Technology degree.
"I’ve always been interested in the technology, software and visualisations of architecture"
I learned a lot from college, but university definitely offers more technical information. I’ve always wanted to have a degree as well and it’s really good being able to go to university and learn all the skills I didn’t get from college.
"A highlight for me has to be the group project last semester"
Last semester we did a group project which was loads of fun. Basically, there’s 12 people in a group and each group gets given a big design project. The most exciting part about it though, is that there’s people from lots of different courses who come together in each group – there were those studying an architectural technology degree like me, construction management students, quantity surveying students, and more. Although it was stressful at times, and a lot of work, I think getting that end product and then standing up and presenting it to all the lecturers and students from these different courses was extremely rewarding and definitely a highlight of mine from my time at university. We spent three months doing this massive project, so seeing it all come together was great!
"Lecturers are lovely and very helpful"
One of the lecturers I had for construction management, Andrew Brown was very good at telling you exactly what you need to do and how to get there, sometimes the information you’re given is quite broad so I liked that he could give you a clear direction, and he was always happy to help and very hands-on.
"I would definitely recommend the course"
I’ve learned a lot from both college and university so I would definitely recommend the architectural technology course at Edinburgh Napier.
I’ve developed my team working and collaboration skills and I’ve also learnt a lot about working with a range of students studying other built environment courses.
The course has helped me learn about other professions and what the people I work with need from me in order to do their job. On top of that, I’ve learnt a lot about building standards, fire regulations and other technical aspects.
"I want to take my career abroad and I’m confident I have the skills to do it"
Once I graduate, I will continue working at Keppie design to gain further experience, and then hope to take my skills abroad in the future. I want to go to Australia because I think the skillset, I have is very useful and sough after over there. I want to try and get a similar-level position to what I’m in now when I’m in Australia.
I also have family friends in America, in San Francisco, so I’d love to try and find work there too!
"I won gold in the WorldSkills UK Live Awards"
I first heard about WorldSkills from an old college lecturer and he recommended I go for it, and I did!
The competition is all about the practical skills such as modelling and using innovative architecture software, performing clashes, clash detection for models we were given, and how we would fix those clashes.
There are regionals in all the countries in the UK and that feeds into the main UK event in Birmingham. I competed in the regional competition for Scotland and I won. This followed a two-day event in Birmingham, and there were four of us who had made it from Scotland.
Throughout the two days you were given a Business Information Modelling (BIM) execution plan, which is all the standards and naming conventions in data drops, this is for when you’re uploading things to the common data environment. You get given 2-Dimensional floor plans of a building and you have to take those plans and turn it into a 3-Dimensional model. The competition is all about accuracy and time management, so you lose marks for uploading things late and when things are overlooked or incorrect.
At the end of the two days they announced the winners and I won gold! It felt great that all my hard work had paid off and it will look great on my CV for potential employers to see that this is something I have accomplished.
Second year Graduate Apprentice Claire Green, explains why she chose to study Quantity Surveying at Edinburgh Napier University
“I’m studying a graduate apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying”
I’m Claire Green, I’m 23-years-old, and I’m in my second year studying Quantity Surveying as a graduate apprentice.
My employment is with the international construction and property consultants Thomas & Adamson.
“The perfect fit to achieve my aims”
After completing my HNC Quantity Surveying. I had the decision to decide on how to progress my academic qualification to achieve my aim of obtaining an Honours degree and the RICS professional qualification.
The options were either; attending university fulltime, day release university or the graduate apprenticeship scheme.
Taking into consideration my practical experience with Thomas and Adamson I concluded that the graduate apprenticeship was a perfect fit to achieve my aims.
“The wide range of projects is a great part of the job”
My working day includes many various tasks, and I continue to pick up new responsibilities. My jobs include; taking measurements, producing bills for clients, collating documents and contracts, attending progress meetings and giving valuations and final accounts.
I get to take part in a wide range of projects, which is a great part of the job. However the weekly progress meetings, billings, and valuations which occur every four weeks for each project, are the consistent aspects which fill my day.
“Hands-on experience allows me to combine the theory through my course”
Being able to gain hands-on practical experience in the field enables me to utilise and combine the theory I learn through my degree course.
Having previously studied on day release, I prefer the two-week blocks of the graduate apprenticeship, as it gives a more academic focus.
All the students on the course are employed within the industry and we all understand the challenges we face, which enables us to support each other and learn from our collective experiences.
“I have gained confidence in my ability and knowledge”
One of the key skills I have learned is the ability to deliver presentations. Previously I would shy away from presenting, but the course has given me a newfound confidence in my ability and knowledge. Along with the constructive feedback from each session, this has enabled me to tailor and improve what I say and how I say it, to ensure it is effectively received and understood.
Thanks to this, and other skills I have improved, I have been delighted with my assignment marks. Another highlight is meeting new people and building relationships with my fellow students.
“Tutors and students are friendly and supportive"
I was genuinely nervous about starting University, I had previously attended college and felt daunted by the unknown of what lay ahead. However, my tutors and fellow students were friendly and supportive, and I quickly felt comfortable and very happy to be there.
Definitely I would recommend this course to other students who are currently working within the industry without a formal qualification or those starting their career and wanting to work towards a degree.
“Tutors are always available to receive questions and provide support”
My number one thing about Napier is the communication and support that is available whilst away from campus. Due to the fact the course is two weeks on campus - three times a year, we are away from campus more than we are there. Despite this, our tutors are always available to receive questions and provide support whenever we ask.
The build-up and attending university for the first time is tough, as it’s the unknown and you don’t know what to expect. But you quickly enjoy being there. The two-week blocks are intense and hard work, so it’s really important to take plenty of notes and ask lots of questions. Use the course materials provided, the university portal Moodle is great and has plenty lecture and reading material to assist with your coursework.
Second year student Olivia talks about her passion for Quantity Surveying and why she chose to study at Edinburgh Napier University.
I never chose to go to university when I was younger. A lot of my friends did and I ended up working in the finance industry instead. My career was going quite well, I ended up being a finance director for a firm in Edinburgh, it was a good job but it was high-stress. 2008 was the first time I thought about changing career and I looked at Quantity Surveying. However, going on at that time was the financial crash and everything started becoming stressful in business so I thought ‘no, you’re doing ok, keep doing what you’re doing.’
A few years later, my career got really stressful and I was turning a milestone age so I thought, “time for a change.” A friend of mine had just studied at Edinburgh Napier and she loved it. Best of all, my course is a day and a half which meant that I managed to stay working in finance, condensing my work week into three days and I could still study which is fantastic!
I was loving studying and it started to get to the point where finance was just getting in the way and I thought, if I’m going to do this, I should do it properly. I wanted to work in the industry and start applying this knowledge, so I applied to some quantity surveying jobs and now I’m working on a big project right in the centre of Edinburgh and I’m absolutely loving it.
“There’s a legal side to it, there’s a finance side to it, you’re negotiating contracts, you’re speaking to people every day, and you’re out and about.”
I was interested in Quantity Surveying because I wanted something that uses the skills I’ve got but in a way that’s more tangible. I love that there’s a legal side to it, there’s a finance side to it, you’re negotiating contracts, you’re speaking to people every day, and you’re out and about.
I’ve found I’ve got a real appetite to study, and when there’s extra reading I’m looking forward to it because I’m actually interested in it. Construction news pops up on my computer every morning and I read through it to see what’s going on – it has become a real interest and passion of mine!
“Straight away I got the sense of inclusion, everyone was so friendly.”
Speaking to lecturers and also going to an introduction day for the mature students, gave me a good impression of Edinburgh Napier. I went in and sat down, straight away I got the sense of inclusion; everyone was so friendly. A mature student is actually anyone from 21 so there were young people there, and older people, and then me - kind of in the middle - I didn’t feel like a complete alien.
You come into this environment and you hear about everyone else’s background and hear about what they’re doing. I just got that feel from Edinburgh Napier, just from that introduction day that you were well supported and there was a good spirit. I just thought if I’m ever stuck, I’m not on my own, there’s a million places I can go and it was nice. At Edinburgh Napier everything is available to you and available for you which is really nice.
Edinburgh Napier seems to have much more connection to the industry than other universities I viewed. Our lecturers and tutors are really interesting - they talk about projects that are happening now, issues that are happening now, meetings that they’ve attended, policies that are going through Scottish Government. It’s that close link to industry, the people who are teaching us are actually still involved in some level. Here I feel it’s more dynamic and forward thinking, which is where you want to be really because you don’t want to sit in a classroom for four years.
“As a woman working in the STEM industry you feel supported on that level too, and I think Edinburgh Napier is a hub for Scotland in this.”
The good feeling has definitely been reinforced. There’s a lot of males in construction, so I went along to a Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) event that Edinburgh Napier holds and the woman speaking said: “Put your hand up if you’re the only female in your class.” Two or three people put their hands up. She said it would be lovely to get to a day where no one put their hand up and no one was the only woman on their course. Just as a woman working in the STEM industry you feel supported on that level too, and I think Edinburgh Napier is a hub for Scotland in this.
It’s another feeling of inclusion, you get to meet people and make contacts. The university is very much; if you’re looking for a job, come and see us; if you’re looking for a placement, come and see us; if you’re looking for support, come and see us.
“I’m coming to university a bit older but you don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t ask them about.”
The tutors are really helpful, you never really feel that you are lumped with stuff and just left to get on with it, they’re very engaged with responding to emails quickly if you’ve got queries with anything. They’ll always take time to sit down with you and go through stuff so the support is definitely there which is really good. I’m coming to university a bit older but you don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t ask them about, there’s less of a kind of tutor-student feel to it, it’s much more of a contemporary environment – you’re all equals together, you’re all involved. It’s quite a nice environment to study in.
“It’s just about believing in yourself, believing that you can do it.”
Coming to study at Edinburgh Napier has taught me to be more disciplined. The weeks can slip by so quickly if you’re not careful and it’s made me a bit more disciplined with that which is really good.
I’ve been doing a lot of report writing on my Quantity Surveying course. Report writing, and all the things that go with it, is something I wasn’t already doing when I was more financed based - it was more spreadsheets and figures. So getting back into report writing and realising that you can do it and it’s not as impossible as it sounds at the beginning has been great. When someone says “Give me a nine-page report” or “Stand up and talk for 15 minutes” you get nervous but then you stand up to do it you realise it wasn’t so bad. It’s just about believing in yourself, believing that you can do it.
“Don’t hesitate, just do it!”
Working in construction, it’s just growth, growth, growth. I think with the skill shortage and the jobs that are out there, it’s just a really good time to be studying – whether it’s Quantity Surveying, Architecture, or anything.
Everyone I meet I just say don’t hesitate, just do it, you’ll love it. If you want to change, you’ve got to be brave enough just to make the change, it’s got to happen. You can’t just sit and think ‘what if?’
If you were to ask if I’d come back to Edinburgh Napier University I’d say absolutely.
Part-time Quantity Surveying student Evan Ramsay, explains why he chose the course
“The university offered the option to study part-time”
I currently study Quantity Surveying at Edinburgh Napier University on a part-time basis. The reason I chose to study this course at Edinburgh Napier was due to the locality of it being close to my home but also because the university offered the option to study the course part-time, which gave me the flexibility I was looking for.
“I made the right choice”
I definitely believe I made the right choice as by studying part-time, I can also work full time alongside this. I currently work for the construction company Laing O’Rourke, which means I can learn on the job as well as apply the knowledge I have gained from studying the course. I think this makes academic tasks such as coursework a lot easier as well as making my day-to-day job role easier also.
“The course has been rewarding in many ways”
My experience on this course so far at times has been good, but it comes with its challenges, for me it’s mainly due to time management; balancing working full-time as well as studying. However I think it’s definitely worth it as the course has been rewarding in many ways and will help me go further in my career.
Once I finish my degree, I intend to continue working for my current company, with hopes of moving up in the company.
BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology graduate, Lisa Playfair, speaks of her experience at Edinburgh Napier University and life after graduation.
“At Edinburgh Napier you could see a point and purpose to the work you were doing.”
In school I didn’t know about Architecture Technology, I didn’t know it was a thing. I started not really knowing what Architecture Technology was but as soon as I came here I really, really enjoyed it. I find the subject really interesting and that was down to the way the course is run and how practical it was. At Edinburgh Napier you could see a point and purpose to the work you were doing.
“It’s taking architecture but applying it to real life with more emphasis on technology, details and also understanding the basics.”
The problem from a school leavers view if you’re interested in Art, Physics or the Built Environment you default into Engineering or Architecture because you don’t know what else is involved in Construction. Architecture Technology is more about Buildability and buildings that work. It’s combining designs that work with details and practicality and how you construct things. It’s taking architecture but applying it to real life with more emphasis on technology, details and also understanding the basics.
Currently I’m working as an Assistant Site Manager. I graduated from university and went on to a do a Graduate Construction Management discipline on-site. It’s benefited me coming from an architecture technology background working on a construction site as it allows me to have a different perspective which is good. At that level if you have a basic knowledge which the Architecture Technology course gives you, it means you can go into anything in construction.
“The good thing about the Architecture Technology course is you can apply it to a whole range of different industries.“
The good thing about the Architecture Technology course is you don’t have to become an architectural technologist with that degree. I have a friend who’s working as an Architecture Technologist and another who works as a planner working with land development. Another popular career choice is game design, a lot of it involves using CAD and 3D modelling on computers, doing architectural models online and you can design games and movie sets. You can apply it to a whole range of different industries. Just because you don’t do architecture doesn’t mean you can’t design buildings. By doing architecture technology and you can still design buildings and do everything an architect can. You can even have your own practice.
“Interacting with people who work in that industry and hearing them use real-life examples was incredibly beneficial to myself and the other students. It’s not all about textbooks and reading but this allowed us to visualise what they’re saying. ”
What I really enjoyed about the course is that each year we had a person come in from industry who works as an Architecture Technician. They would talk about what projects they were working on and they would give feedback on your designs. You would really take on board what they’re saying and that was from day one where you would be taught by people with experience. Interacting with people who work in that industry and hearing them use real-life examples was incredibly beneficial to myself and the other students. It’s not all about textbooks and reading but this allowed us to visualise what they’re saying. There was a good balance between practical and academic learning. The theory I was taught was incredibly relevant in the work that I’m doing now and I apply it in my position now.
“The theory I was taught was incredibly relevant in the work that I’m doing now and I apply it in my position now.”
At Napier, in my 3rd year I signed up for the Employer Mentoring Scheme and I got paired with a Project Manager who worked for Balfour Beatty and he got me a two week experience during the Summer which led on to a three month placement. I also had a year-long part-time internship with the university. It was the university giving me the opportunity to work for them while also supporting me being a student. It was an internal job posting for architectural technology students – which was paid as well. So overall, I’ve had over a year’s experience and all that has been a result of Edinburgh Napier supporting their students. I doubt I would have got my graduate job without this because the experience makes such a big difference.
“The course sets you up well for the real world, working on big projects and working with other disciplines all adds to the professionalism of the course.”
The challenges of the course, you have to be committed fully, your designs are never finished and it can be incredibly time-consuming. With design projects, you can never fully be satisfied and you always think of changes to be made after it’s been submitted. As a plus-side you do improve your mindset and you acquire a very good work ethic. It’s also incredibly rewarding, being able to look back at your models and all your work it is such a great feeling. The course sets you up well for the real world, working on big projects and working with other disciplines all adds to the professionalism of the course.
“I recommend studying Architecture Technology because it offers really good life skills, it’s really interesting and also incredibly rewarding.”
I recommend studying Architecture Technology because it offers really good life skills, it’s really interesting and also incredibly rewarding. The biggest thing is work, but don’t work too hard, just make sure you stay on top of it. Learn to be able to step back a little bit because you can get worked up over your own design. Have a little break and go back to it when you’re in a better head space. I would say it’s worth the challenges and after 4 years you’ll look back and be proud of the work you’ve done.
Third year student, Sophie Pugh, talks about her experience on Edinburgh Napier University's Civil Engineering course.
“I always had an interest in engineering from a young age and even though I was told I wasn’t very good at Maths and that I should consider a different path, I didn’t let that stop me.”
I’m originally from Shetland that is probably my interesting fact part. I chose Edinburgh Napier because of its strong career focus within the course, and I also love the city. I am 20 and I had a bit of civil engineering experience at school before I came to university, which helped me know that this was the right course for me. I always had an interest in engineering from a young age and even though I was told I wasn’t very good at Maths and that I should consider a different path, I didn’t let that stop me. I continued to pursue my ambition and I am now in my third year studying Civil Engineering and absolutely loving my course.
“When applying, Edinburgh Napier was my first choice. When I looked at what Napier had to offer I knew this was the University for me”
When applying, Edinburgh Napier was my first choice. When I looked at what Napier had to offer I knew this was the University for me and the course available was the route I wanted to go down professionally. I believed this university fits in with my character and who I am as a person.
Some of the modules on this course are taken off-site, which gives you the hands-on experience so it was nice to put the theory work into practice and really helps you prepare for the industry stage after you’ve graduated. Third year, involves a lot of labs and practical’s and throughout the year there are a lot of opportunities to go on site visits with the Civil Engineering Society and Create Scotland. In my Second Year I went to the Queensferry crossing when it was being built in the Education Centre and then Torness Power Station as well. Having things like that can help spur you on and it inspires you to keep working hard and reminds you of why you’re here and what you’re working towards.
“The practical side of things definitely helps and if you can see something in a lab or a site visit it can help reaffirm what you’re learning.”
The university has good lecturers, the library has good resources available and even being able to do the library search at home really helps. I’m also quite lucky that everyone in my year gets along and everyone has integrated well and we can work together and be able to ask each other questions. The practical side of things definitely helps and if you can see something in a lab or a site visit it can help reaffirm what you’re learning. We’ve also had industry guest speakers who are relevant to our modules which is another key part of our studies. Having people from the industry really allows us to reflect and learn, not just on what we’ve created but also from a professional standpoint as well.
The biggest challenge for me was balancing university with other aspects of my life. Making sure you had enough money, while working a part-time job with university was a challenge. Knowing someone from the university, whether it be staff or other students are there for you if need it really helps along with support from friends. I think Napier is really good for that and you feel more connected to everyone in your class due to class-size. For me it was quite a challenge moving from a small island to a big city.
I’m involved at the moment with Generation 200 which is run by ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers). They’re planning on making this the year for young people They’re trying to get more young people into Engineering and I’m hoping to get more opportunities at helping out in this area.
“Having that belief in myself and my own abilities made it happen and has allowed me to get where I want to be.”
The biggest thing for me is being able to give back now but actually to remind people of keeping the motivation and get to where you want to if you believe in yourself. In high school a lot of teachers told me that I wasn’t going to make it due to me not being as good at Maths as I am with other subjects but I really, really wanted to do this. Maths wasn’t my strong point but after a lot of work and positivity it has paid off and having that belief in myself and my own abilities made it happen and has allowed me to get where I want to be.
Edinburgh Napier University Product Design Engineering students - Aoife Keeling, John Aisthorpe, Jonathon Duguid and Michael Andrew - pick up second place at the 2019 Blackwood Awards.
Housing and care provider Blackwood have been working with third and fourth year Product Design students at Edinburgh Napier University as part of a design module. They tasked students in groups to create and design a product that will promote digital technology to aid the residents of Blackwood homes.
The students pitched their ideas to two Blackwood tenants earlier this year and the success of this resulted in them entering the 2019 Blackwood Design Awards. Some of the student groups’ designs include; an in-house health monitoring system, a hands-free toothbrush, a smart sensor watch and the functional tablet holder.
The Blackwood team were impressed to see such creativity, forward thinking and social awareness from the designers of the future.
Blackwood Design Awards is an annual competition that first launched in 2013 which requires entrants to design a product that helps disabled people live more independently.
Entrants design their products and bring their ideas to life by presenting them to Blackwood Design’s esteemed judges in ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitches. The judges then pick the finalists from all the amazing entrants worldwide. This year, four Edinburgh Napier students – Jonathon Duguid, Aoife Keeling, Michael Andrew and John Aisthorpe – made it into final with their functional tablet holder design.
The four finalists study Product Design Engineering, which they feel teaches them a unique combination of design and engineering principles. This has given them the knowledge required to design aesthetically pleasing and functional products.
There are three award categories; Best New Product, Best New Concept and Best Collaborative Project by a University or Institute of Higher Learning, with Edinburgh Napier’s product design students falling into the latter of the three.
The inclusive tablet holder is a magnetic, multi-jointed enabled wireless charging device designed to attach to a wheelchair and easily switch between rooms throughout the home of someone with a disability. The tablet was designed with Blackwood’s tablet based care system in mind.
When speaking about their experience of the competition, the students said they faced a few challenges along the way.
“Pitching the idea to residents and employees of Blackwood homes required some preparation and was something we didn’t have much previous experience doing.”
However, overall they had a great experience and they would definitely recommend getting involved in the competition. “It gave us an opportunity to solve a real-world problem and receive feedback from the potential end user. It’s also good for our CVs”.
The group finished an impressive second place in their category. This is an excellent achievement and a big well done to all students who submitted their designs to the competition.
The Blackwood Awards 2020 will open up entries again at the end of 2019, hosting yet another year of creative new ideas from people across the globe. A bit of advice for next year’s students planning to enter the awards – “Ask as many questions as possible to the customer, after all they are the target audience and can provide essential information you may not have thought about.” Jonathan, Aoife, Michael and John.
I studied Energy and Environmental Engineering because our world needs more energy engineers to drive sustainable change.
My name is Andrea Garcia Sanchez and I have recently graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a BEng (Hons) in Energy and Environmental Engineering. Before applying for this course, I was unsure of the type of engineering I wanted to study. I did some research into courses across the UK and was drawn to the Energy and Environmental Engineering course at Edinburgh Napier University because it was different to what other universities offered. The university’s statistics and links with industry were also appealing to me.
I have always been concerned about the environment and sustainability issues and I wanted to become part of the positive change that is needed.
When I saw the course description I instantly felt that this was what I had been looking for. This course was the first in Scotland to focus on renewable energy and carbon accounting instead of just the traditional energy industry. I started to visualise myself as a renewable energy engineer and I liked it.
To anyone interested in renewable energy or sustainability issues, this is the degree for you. The course provides a broad range of theoretical and practical knowledge about mechanics, energy systems, building services, maths, management, product design and so much more. I feel like because of the vast amount of skills and knowledge you will leave with, this course will open many doors for a career in the industry. I would recommend people to do this course, as our world needs more energy engineers to make sustainable change happen.
“There are amazing lecturers with plenty of professional experience, who are always ready to help and support students”
The School of Engineering and the Built Environment at Edinburgh Napier have amazing lecturers with plenty of professional experience who are always ready to help and support students. I had some modules that I found challenging, but I made sure to ask plenty of questions and my lecturers were always very patient and helpful.
The facilities provided at the university, such as the 24 hour Jack Kilby Computing Centre and the laptop loan service really supported my studies. Without them I wouldn’t have managed to get through my course. There are also very useful workshops such as CV builder sessions or job fairs which add to the student experience.
Edinburgh Napier University has a broad range of services in place to support international students like myself, making life a lot easier. They provide lots of information about life in Edinburgh – accommodation, medical services, jobs, facilities – to help us settle in here, and a lot of effort is put in to make you feel welcome at the university.
“During my time volunteering, I learnt about the importance of engineering in developing countries and it gave me a clear idea of how renewable energy can be implemented to improve every aspect of society”
Throughout my four years at university, I made the most of my student experience. I worked as a student ambassador, which involved supporting with the university’s open days. I was also a maths peer tutor for the final two years of my degree, due to my passion for maths. It has been a great experience to help other students as well as assisting my lecturers in maths masterclasses for primary school students.
A highlight of mine has been participating in the Academic Program for Entrepreneurship International boot-camp which is organised by the Bright Red Triangle every year. This involved spending a week at the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship in Munich, focusing on critical thinking and entrepreneurship working with students from all over the world to develop our skills.
As well as all of this, I have volunteered as an English teacher in Myanmar, which is possibly the best experience of my life so far. During my time volunteering there, I got a better understanding of the importance of engineering in developing countries and it gave me a clear idea of how renewable energy can be implemented to improve every aspect of society.
I have recently been awarded with the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) ‘Most Outstanding Student’ prize. The IET provides accreditation to the engineering courses at Edinburgh Napier University and every year, the university can award their most outstanding student amongst all the degrees with the IET prize.
During the course, we do not see the results of other students so it’s difficult to compare and realise how good you are, so the award was a complete shock to me. I am very proud of myself for winning this prize and this now means I have two years free membership as part of the IET which I am very excited about.
“Living in Edinburgh for my student experience is a dream!”
It has been amazing to discover the culture and the history of Scotland, and I have felt welcome here from the very beginning. There is a multi-cultural atmosphere everywhere and you can meet people from all over the world. Edinburgh is full of beautiful places and attractions, and I would also highlight how connected Edinburgh Airport is to other countries and how accessible it is from the city centre at all times, which I felt was an important factor as an international student.
Studying and working whilst living abroad is not an easy thing to do and it was one of the biggest challenges I faced during my university experience. I also struggled with time management at the beginning. However, as I had the support of my family and friends as well as my lecturers and classmates, this encouraged me to keep doing my best and organise my days better and it made a real difference.
Advice for students considering Energy and Environmental Engineering
My advice to anyone considering studying this course would be to go for it. Work hard, read articles and the recommended textbooks and don’t leave things to the last minute. But most importantly – enjoy it.
I feel very happy to be a graduate from Edinburgh Napier University and I am very proud of its active role in women’s empowerment in STEM. I am looking forward to becoming part of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and hope this is the beginning of a successful career in the renewable engineering industry.
Product Design Engineering graduate Andrea reflects on her last four years as an Edinburgh Napier student.
“This course stood out for me because I am a very curious person, I love learning about the world, how things work and how things interact with each other.”
I am Andrea Salvador, I’m originally from Spain and recently graduated from the Product Design Engineering course at Edinburgh Napier. When I finished High School, I decided to study in a foreign country. I chose Scotland because the courses are taught in English, there is government funding available for tuition fees and I found the course I wanted to do.
At the time of my application, the Product Design Engineering course was only available at four other universities around Scotland; Edinburgh Napier was one of them. I chose Edinburgh Napier because of the location and I wanted to discover the city and everything that comes with it.
This course stood out for me because I am a very curious person, I love learning about the world, how things work and how things interact with each other. I get bored very easily, though, so I was looking for a multidisciplinary course that could answer some of my questions about the world but at the same time would not be too specific, covering many different topics and challenging my abilities. The Product Design Engineering course combines mechanics, electronics, programming and design, and allows the student to see how all of them interact when designing a product.
“The biggest highlights from my time at Edinburgh Napier was graduating with a First Class Honours Degree”
The biggest highlights from my time at Edinburgh Napier was graduating with a First Class Honours Degree and winning the Ian McLeod Memorial Prize for my final project. The prize is given to the project which best integrates design and engineering principles in a consumer product.
I also founded the MakerHub. A student society aimed at people passionate about learning, creating and bringing ideas and projects to reality. My team and I ran weekly workshops to teach basic programming, electronics, 3D printing, modelling, and other skills to the society members so they gained the basic tools to start creating their projects. The society has been up and running for two years now and has been a great way to keep busy when the weather has not been great – especially in winter.
Challenges such as climate change mean we need professionals from many different areas to work together to develop new technologies and solutions.
Whilst it is good to have people specialised in one subject, I feel that nowadays we need to combine knowledge from many different areas to find solutions. The challenges we are facing now such as climate change, health crisis, etc. will need professionals from many different areas to work together to develop new technologies and solutions. For this to happen, we need people acting as bridges, people that know about many different subjects with different skill sets to collaborate and develop new and innovative solutions.
“I enjoyed living in Edinburgh… The city is full of students and there is always something going on.”
I enjoyed living in Edinburgh. This is a magical and mysterious city full of surprises. From old buildings to canals, rivers, gardens, meadows and secret tunnels, the city hides its secrets and waits for us to discover them.
The city is full of students and there is always something going on. I love dancing so I joined many dancing groups. There is a variety of classes available all around the city, allowing me to discover many old and beautiful buildings with big rooms and very tall ceilings. My favourite one is Teviot as it looks like a castle and you can get lost inside with all its rooms and stairs.
From my time at Edinburgh Napier, I have learned how to manage a team, how to start a society (and keep it moving forward), how to write formal emails to university staff and companies and how to give voice to issues and develop solutions. All of these have led to me acquiring skills I can use in my personal and professional life going forward.
For now, my plan is to travel and explore the world until the end of the year. In January, I will look for a job related to engineering and I will move to a different country in Europe.
Nicholas Igoe talks about his experience on the beX programme, the platform for students with a passion for sustainable construction, whilst studying at Edinburgh Napier University.
I studied at Edinburgh Napier for five years, starting with my undergraduate degree in Energy and Environmental Engineering where I learned about mechanical engineering, renewable energy and building services. I then went on to do my master’s degree in Advanced Structural Engineering.
I joined the Built Environment Exchange programme (beX) and through this I had the opportunity to learn about a different area of engineering, focusing on offsite manufacture and mass timber systems.
Through beX, I was awarded a scholarship by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CS-IC)
Opportunities with beX
The beX programme at Edinburgh Napier University has had the largest impact on me throughout my studies. I have had the opportunity to gain work experience, such as undertake two international internships at the Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures. I was also able to work as a junior consultant during my masters.
Furthermore, the programme provided me with the help to gain a scholarship, which provided funding for my final year of studying, as well as numerous workshops and personal branding experiences.
If I had not joined beX I would not be in the position I am today. The programme has helped me develop my professionalism and academic skills, making my career goals attainable.
What it’s like to be a student at Edinburgh Napier
Being a student at Edinburgh Napier University allows you to study in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a great atmosphere and culture. The university is known for producing well rounded students who have more than just an academic background. I wanted to be part of this and gain the theoretical and practical skills as well as develop as an individual.
Through coursework, I have developed the problem solving, analytical and communication skills to be successful in my career. From various group-work projects, I can now communicate effectively and work competently in a team. All of these skills I now hold are because of my activities at Edinburgh Napier University and I am truly grateful.
Additionally, in 2018 I was given the opportunity to travel to China with Edinburgh Napier for two weeks on a cultural exchange. This allowed me to experience new settings and learn about industrial processes.
Advice to potential students?
I would recommend studying both Energy and Environmental Engineering and Advanced Structural Engineering, as in my experience the courses included valuable information and were run well.
My advice to anyone considering studying at Edinburgh Napier University would be do it! You will have a great experience in a great city, meet new people, advance your understanding of engineering and develop as a professional.
After completion of my MSc I have been accepted onto the graduate programme for WSP Global where I will be a member of the bridge team.
4th year student Nicole Pannekoek talks to us about her experience on Edinburgh Napier’s Mechanical Engineering course. She gives some tips and advice about studying in her favourite city, Edinburgh.
My name is Nicole Pannekoek and I am a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student at Edinburgh Napier University. I originally came to Edinburgh Napier as an exchange student from another university in the Netherlands, but I fell in love with the Edinburgh sunsets and for some reason studying here worked better for me.
During my exchange I enjoyed all aspects of university life, and I was achieving much better grades than before, so I decided to switch universities and stay here.
I've always loved building and fixing things
I’ve always loved building and fixing things. Mechanical Engineering gave me a chance to make a career out of that.
When I was like 6 or 7 maybe, I remember taking stuff apart, or breaking stuff, but I discovered if I do this, then that happens, but what if I add this? What happens then? You just kind of mess about until you get the result that you want. Or you end up getting something you didn’t want but it works anyway or it does something you like a lot more so you go in that direction. It’s that kind of tweaking, adjusting and just getting something that somehow clicks. I love when you get that lightbulb moment and that is why my sister and I ended up building a catapult when I was eight years old. The best part about that is I had to rebuild one for a university project years later with my class.
At first, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study, I just knew I wanted it to be something technical, because I enjoy fiddling about with things and figuring out how they work. I chose mechanical engineering because I knew it was a broad subject, meaning it would provide me with many opportunities and I could go down many different routes with this degree.
During my time at university, I have learned many valuable skills that I can take forward with me into my career.
Making the most of my student experience
Living in Edinburgh during my studies has made my student experience indescribable. I have been part of the university’s Kayaking society and I believe this is one of the best ways to see Scotland’s beauty, you get to see and go places that are otherwise impossible to reach.
Walk-off the exam stress
The feeling that hangs around the Jack Kilby Computing Centre close to exam time is tense, but it can all be forgotten by just walking around, finding a pocket of green grass of which there are many hidden all around Edinburgh. You can soak up the beautiful sunsets on the walk home from a long day or from the top of Arthur’s seat.
Why I love Edinburgh
The spirit of everyone on a rugby day, the wind that almost blows you off your feet – all of these things sum up Edinburgh yet there isn’t one way to describe the city. You have to feel it, breathe it- and I am very lucky to do so.
Come see for yourself
My advice to anyone considering to study at Edinburgh Napier University would be to go to an open day, talk to students, talk to lecturers and walk around the campus. See if you can see yourself studying here. See if you can picture yourself not just around the campuses and the people but walking around the city as well.