The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentUndergraduate study

Seb Steele Mechanical Engineering / Computational Engineering and Design

Current student

Seb Steele's Photo

Mechanical Engineering seemed to me the best balance of a broad engineering education and the possibility of real specialisation. As someone who had always had a strong opinion on what subjects I was interested in, the choice of modules in parts three and four were compelling.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Southampton?

It struck me that the quality of the research and especially the facilities here at Southampton are really impressive. In particular, wanting to go into aerodynamics, the wind tunnel and the new Boldrewood campus were a big draw.

Why did you select your course pathway?

Mechanical Engineering seemed to me the best balance of a broad engineering education and the possibility of real specialisation. As someone who had always had a strong opinion on what subjects I was interested in, the choice of modules in parts three and four were compelling. Equally, for those who are more unsure, the broad base taught in parts one and two will help to give direction – I actually changed tack completely once I began to realise what I was really interested in.

I originally intended to enrol on the Automotive Engineering stream within Mech. Eng., however my thinking is that computational and programming fields are only going to become more and more important over my lifetime, and programming an increasingly important skill over a wide range of disciplines. Meanwhile, the automotive sector will become less and less independent of other disciplines, with a case in point being electric motors versus the internal combustion engine. Combined with my burgeoning interest in other fields, I felt a less tied-down stream would be a better choice.

What has been the highlight of your time here so far?

Working on my part three individual project/thesis has been immensely satisfying. That, combined with some great modules (in particular Finite Element Analysis with Dr Atul Bhaskar) and sharing a house with great friends have made my third year a real joy - albeit an intense one.

Have you taken part in any extracurricular activities?

I have been involved with two great societies whilst here at Southampton. Most importantly for me is the Formula Student team, in which we build a race car with which to compete against other universities from around the world at competitions. It’s often an intense experience, but nothing else will teach you as much about real, practical engineering, or be as fun at the same time. If you are interested in cars then you should absolutely join – it’s also a huge boost to your CV if you want to go into Formula 1 or any automotive-related field.

Rather on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve also contributed to the University’s magazine, the Wessex Scene. Last year I served as the head of design, where I designed the print editions, and this year I am the science and technology editor. If you have any interest in writing about anything from fashion to politics to science, I would highly recommend joining in as a writer (or more!). You can write at your own pace and about the things you want to write about without any worries.

In general, your extracurricular activities may well shape your University experience far more than the course itself, so be sure to make the most of all of opportunities on offer!

What do you enjoy most about living in Southampton?

I love a smaller city and being able to walk to campus in very little time.

What are your lecturers and supervisors like? Have you found them supportive?

As ever there is a range with lecturers, but I can confirm there are some true greats.

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future? Have the opportunities you have taken up while at the University helped you have a clearer idea of what you might like to do?

When I came to University I had felt strongly that I wanted to pursue my interests in aerodynamics. Whilst here, however, I found my interests shifted considerably to the point where now I am mostly working in programming-related activities and feel strongly that I am heading in a more managerial than engineering direction. Crucially, at University I have been able to try such a wide variety of things that I feel I am on a trajectory far more suited to me than I would have been. Being involved with Formula Student certainly helped with this process.

If you could offer prospective students one piece of advice, what would it be?

The secret to success in your course is a) to learn Matlab and b) have friends on your course who can help you. And if I’m allowed to give a second piece of advice, it would be to seriously find the closest, best friends you can. They will be with you for life.

Working on the Formula Student car
Seb working on the Formula Student car
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