Undergraduate Student Profiles
"There are very few universities around the world that so effectively integrate technical expertise with such a friendly atmosphere"
Being a first year student in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and a resident in a busy self-catered hall is very different from the environment I experienced during my schooling period in both Malaysia and my hometown, Chennai (India).
I was largely motivated to apply here by the contribution of this engineering department to the development of technology and I was pleased to receive a UCL Undergraduate Open Scholarship. The personal attention given to its students through its tutorial system was an important factor in my decision, especially since I come from a school community of less than 700 students. I believe that there are very few universities around the world that so effectively integrate technical expertise with such a friendly atmosphere. The research-led department offers excellent facilities and the course covers a wide range of subjects in detail, all of which lay the firm foundation I require to realise my life-long ambition to become a researcher in the field.
My extra-curricular activities at UCL are as valuable as the academic aspects. I am a member of the UCL Indian Society, the Hindu Society and the Volunteering Services Unit. As a Carnatic music singer and a Bharathanatyam dancer (South Indian classical music and dance), I am glad that I can maintain my involvement in these art forms by performing in shows organised by the UCL societies. Additionally, as a Student Ambassador, I talk to students of different age groups from various backgrounds and share my experiences with them. This allows me to enhance my skills in public speaking and pursue my interest in community service, both of which I used to do in school.
The long-established history of UCL combined with its location in contemporary bustling central London provides a unique international ambience. The wide range of facilities both academic and extra curricular have together ensured a smooth and comfortable transition from school to University. I am very much looking forward to the rest of my time here.
"I feel that the diversity and scale of what I have been able to do and achieve would not have been possible if I had not gone to UCL"
I came to UCL after spending my gap year working for Accenture who then sponsored me throughout my degree. I was attracted to Electronic Engineering (EE) as I enjoyed Physics and Mathematics at school, but I wanted to investigate how they could be used in real applications. I chose UCL because of its international reputation for research, the department's welcoming atmosphere and also because I wanted a University that had a student body studying a diverse range of disciplines. The first year focuses on giving you a solid grounding in the basics of EE, which is a large and diverse field with a lot to offer and I think that the spectrum of courses and lab sessions reflects this. During the summer after my first year I was able to work in the Optical Networks Group labs through a Rank Prize Fund Studentship, where I really got to use the skills I learnt in the first year.
The second year is certainly harder than the first, and the range of topics studied is still broad, but the Professors were always very approachable and attentive if you didn't understand any aspect of the course. During my second year I applied, and was selected, for an Engineering Leadership Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. The award is an amazing opportunity as it provides considerable funding for you to further your personal development and realise your ambitions. I managed to spend to my third year at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California through the highly competitive UCL-Caltech exchange program. Caltech is arguably the best technical institution in the world, and it was a fantastic and challenging experience from which I have made a lot new friends. While I was there I was part of Team Caltech where I worked on 'Alice' our entry for the DARPA Grand Challenge, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build and race fully-autonomous robotic vehicles (no human control) over 150 miles of off-road desert terrain for a $2Million prize. My own research on Alice centred on designing and building her supervisory controller which has to manage the entire system and deal with any faults that occur, which was supported through Caltech's SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) programme.
I am now back at UCL in my final year, where I am part of a group of fourth year students working on an exciting MEng project with the Optical Networks Group to investigate ways of using new technology at network nodes to improve the performance of older optical fibre networks. In the future I am planning to go to graduate-school in the US to pursue a PhD in Control Theory.
Although I think that what you get out of any University degree is proportional to what you put in, I feel that the diversity and scale of what I have been able to do and achieve would not have been possible if I had not gone to UCL.
"I was impressed with the courses offered by the department. They allowed students to specialise where their strength and interests lay and also allowed the option of changing the specialisms as you progress through the course. The number and range of options available, especially from other departments, was very impressive."
I was sponsored through my degree by the Ministry of Defence and when I left University I had two job offers from them: one as a graduate engineer and the other on the Fast Stream Science and Engineering Scheme. I managed to combine these so that I spent six months as a graduate engineer on placement in industry (the Mathworks Aerial Facilities Ltd and the NATO C3 Agency in the Hague) and then moved onto the Fast Stream. My first posting was a semi-technical one looking at military capabilities and planning how these were going to change based on newly-available equipment. I'm now in my second FS posting working the the MOD's main building in Whitehall where I am a policy advisor for the Freedom of Information Act. The job is fascinating and I can be dealing with the public and briefing senior officials and Ministers.
While at UCL I also got involved in the IET, initially with the London Younger Members; I have now progressed to sit on the Younger Members Board and was last year elected to the Council of the Institution. Throughout my IET involvement I keep bumping into various people that I knew originally from my time at UCL and they are still fantastically supportive of what I am doing now.