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EngineeringUndergraduate study

Shruti Verma Students’ Union Vice President Education, 2015

BEng Aeronautics and Astronautics

Shruti Verma's Photo

People need to know more about the cutting edge research underway at Southampton that is genuinely making a difference in the world.


Why did you choose to come to Southampton?

“Before I came to University I was working towards a career in the military. I had been an air cadet from the age of 13, attended military sixth form college and had been sponsored to become an officer in the Royal Air Force. However, I developed a serious knee problem in my teens and had to give up this ambition. I chose to study engineering at Southampton as it was the best university for what I wanted to study within the RAF restrictions of being a sponsored student. Although I knew my degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics wouldn’t result in a job with the RAF, I decided to take up my place because I wanted to be an engineer.”

During your studies, you became more interested in biomedical engineering?

“Yes, I was frustrated that doctors didn’t know what caused my knee problem which is incredibly common among young people, around 20 percent of teenagers and young adults have this condition, so I decided I would try to use my engineering knowledge to find out more about it. I talked to Dr Alex Dickinson and he agreed to supervise me so that I could research into the subject for my third year individual project.”

And you ended up presenting your work to MPs at the Houses of Parliament?

“It’s important to be able to communicate your research to a wider audience. I enjoy sharing knowledge and talking about engineering to everyone from schoolchildren to politicians. People need to know more about the cutting edge research underway at Southampton that is genuinely making a difference in the world.

“I took part in a poster competition, explaining my research to an interdisciplinary audience. I won the Faculty contest and then the University-wide competition and was chosen as one of one two students at Southampton to go up to London to take part in Posters in Parliament. It was an amazing experience.”

What did you enjoy most about your degree?

“I have been interested in science subjects throughout my school days. Although I come from a family of doctors, I wanted to use my knowledge in a different way. I enjoyed both my studies and the opportunity to join clubs and societies and volunteer with the Students’ Union.

What were the lecturers and tutors like?

“Dr Alex Dickinson was incredibly supportive about my request to focus my studies on biomedical engineering in my final year. The whole biomedical engineering department were very helpful throughout my undergraduate degree and I have decided to stay on and study for a masters in the subject because it’s one of the best places in the UK for this speciality, before hopefully going on to do a PhD.”

How do you think your course helped you in your career so far?

“I was disappointed when I learned I could not achieve my ambition to join the RAF for health reasons but I’m pleased I came to Southampton after all because I discovered my passion for biomedical engineering and I hope to be able to make a difference through research in this area. It’s been a challenge to change my career plans so radically but I’m pleased I have found a career path that I’m excited about.”

Why did you decide to stay on for a year to be the Vice President for Education at the Students’ Union?

“I’m passionate about education and the difference it can make to people’s lives. I started off in the first year as an academic rep, liaising between the students and the University and helping them to sort out any problems. It was incredibly rewarding and I liked the chance to give something back. In my third year I decided to make it a full-time job for a year. A lot of things can be improved, for example, I’m passionate about the provision of recording lectures so students can watch them again afterwards, perhaps concentrating on the areas they find difficult. Some people thought it would mean students wouldn’t turn up to the lectures but research shows that isn’t the case.”

What piece of advice would you give a prospective student?

“There’s so much to do at University and so many ways you can develop your interests and skills, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the opportunities. You have to get out there and get involved, things won’t just come to you. Speaking for myself, besides being an academic rep, I took part in the Formula Student competition, set up a society with one of my friends (Human Powered Submarine) and was a Student Ambassador for the University. I was also part of Southampton’s team of the student social enterprise organisation Enactus which beat entries from 35 other countries to win the World Cup in 2015, although sadly I didn’t get to go to the final in South Africa because I had just started my job as Vice President Education and couldn’t take the leave.”


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