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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

Carl Brookes MSc Energy and Sustainability (Energy, Environment and Buildings), 2011

Engineer & Partner at Max Fordham LLP

Carl Brookes's Photo

My dissertation was a piece of groundbreaking research about Combined Heat and Power networks by using measured data from the system on the Highfield Campus. I found a lot of interesting data.

Can you provide a brief summary of your time at Southampton?

I carried out a one-year masters there as a mature student while living in Bournemouth with my partner. I highly enjoyed the course, the thorough knowledge of the tutors Patrick James and Mark Jentsch and the work ethic and enthusiasm of the cohort. I gained a large amount of knowledge that allowed me to succeed in gaining employment at an internationally-recognised consultancy in the area of study.

Why did you choose Southampton?

It was the closest university to where I was living that had a high reputation in the field of study that I was searching for. I also had an existing friend base there through Ultimate Frisbee links.

What did you enjoy most about your masters?

The challenging research assignments which broadened my horizons.

What were your lecturers and tutors like? Did you find them supportive?

They were excellent. The course was in its inaugural year and a supportive network was provided while the course established its first year.

What were the engineering facilities like here?

Generally excellent. IT facilities were sometimes saturated at peak times, but this was rare.

Did you undertake a design project as part of your course? What did you find most useful and interesting about it?

Not a design project, but my dissertation was a piece of groundbreaking research about Combined Heat and Power networks by using measured data from the system on the Highfield Campus. I found a lot of interesting data and mainly learned not to always trust manufacturer claims of energy savings!

What does your current job involve?

I carry out M&E and environmental design consultancy on a wide variety of building or extension projects, either new-build or refurbishments. This can be a large number of different things, e.g. defining a ventilation strategy, designing a heating system, proposing a safe/robust power distribution system, consulting on fabric and glazing properties, orientation, size, thickness etc. This is all done with energy usage and efficiency in mind.

How did your course help you to get the career you wanted?

The course allowed me to step back and understand the wider impacts and influences on energy usage (not just the technical issues), e.g. social and political forces. This helps me discuss technical solutions with clients in their wider context in a way that might ease their understanding. This, in turn, helps me convince the client to choose the more technically sound solution, without getting too technical!

What has been your greatest career achievement so far?

As a practice we helped to convince English Heritage and the Secretary of State to approve retrofit insulation on a Grade I listed building. Trinity College: New Court (refurbishment completed in January 2016) now sets a precedent in refurbishment of historic buildings. We are subsequently attending a conference in Brussels in October to discuss and present our work.

What advice would you give to a student starting their masters at Southampton?

Ignore the doom and gloom that’s often reported in the media about the current state of the economy and future job prospects. In my experience, there’s plenty of work out there for capable people and clients that are prepared to pay for skilled expertise. Don’t be disheartened; keep focused on your goals, stay passionate, and you are bound to find the opportunities that are out there.

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