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The University of Southampton

Adrian Dumitrescu MEng Aeronautics & Astronautics / Spacecraft Engineering, Romanian

Adrian Dumitrescu's Photo

I’ve been really impressed by the facilities available at Southampton. One of the best parts of studying here is that students are able to use the EDMC (Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Centre) workshops and the labs around campus, which include laser cutters and 3D printers. For both my extracurricular projects and my course projects I’ve used use these facilities and have gained valuable practical experience.

What made you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I am focused on working in the spacecraft engineering industry in future and Southampton has a history of producing top graduates who go on to work at ESA, NASA, and the UK Space Agency. Southampton was in the top three in the UK for Aeronautics and Astronautics when I applied as well, and I had also heard about its impressive wind tunnel facilities.

What is it like studying here?

I’ve had a very good experience so far. Given that I am studying for one of the toughest degrees and I am also involved in two extracurricular projects, my work-life balance is perhaps not that of an average student, but it is just as demanding as I want it to be.
The lecturers are very helpful and happy to answer any questions, either at the end of a lecture, or during their dedicated office hours and of course through email.
I have also been surprised by the fact that I can use all of the engineering workshops and the wind tunnels, given that I undertake the necessary training.

How do you rate study facilities at the University, such as the Library? Have you found the Library, its content and the study spaces available within it useful?

I do not use the library because I prefer to study as home, but I will mention the other facilities that I use. One of the best parts of studying at Southampton is the ability to use the EDMC (Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Centre) workshops and the labs around campus, which include laser cutters and 3D printers, for free. For both my extracurricular projects and my course projects I've used them and gained valuable practical experience.
Moreover, the University is home to a full-size wind tunnel (R. J. Mitchell) and I could use it to test my car for the Shell Eco Marathon competition. This is quite rare within UK universities as far as I know. 

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ so far?

Probably the five weeks after the summer exams in first year. That is when I built a car with my teammates from USER (University of Southampton Efficiency Racing) and took it to the Shell Eco Marathon competition, which in itself was an incredible experience. Apart from that, building the bodywork for this year’s car, because a lot of hard work went into it.
I’ve also enjoyed getting involved in the Lunar Hopper project because it was one of the projects that I was interested in from the 2016 Design Show

What other activities have you taken advantage of while at University?

I’ve enjoyed taking part in most of the talks organised by the Faculty. These have included representatives from Formula 1 teams, NASA and ESA. They often talk about projects or placements which are of interest to me, and it’s been valuable to find out more about the wide range of opportunities available during and after my degree.
I took advantage of the study abroad programme, so in the first semester of next year I will study at Purdue University in USA.

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course? How did this help you grow academically or personally?

Not necessarily during my course, but as part of working on my extracurricular projects. For both projects I had to contact people from industry for either expertise or sponsorship opportunities. This need to set up connections outside the academic environment has provided me with experience of what it is like to work in a professional engineering environment, and it’s made me more aware of what it takes for a project to succeed.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

The rhythm of studying and the fact that it constantly stimulates me to try to understand things better. I’ve also really appreciated the teaching available to me here. The lecturers are specialists in their respective fields and most of them have experience in industry. This also means that they know what a fresh graduate needs to know when applying for a job.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans?

Not yet, but given that I will study abroad next semester I will learn things in a different way. This will most likely improve my knowledge and the way I approach problems because I believe that every educational system has its own approach on teaching.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities have you undertaken and how have they enhanced your undergraduate experience?

I am only in my second year, so I have not undertaken any work experience so far. However, events such as the talks at university, the Career Fairs and the National Student Space Conference were great opportunities to meet employers and people working in my fields of interest.

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?

Ideally, I want to work for a space agency (NASA/ESA) and help humankind get to Mars. What I have realised during university is that I won’t get there straight away, no matter how well I do during my four years here. I will have to work in this field for smaller companies and make my way up, and I understand now that it will be a longer process that I initially imagined. However, my time at Southampton will provide me with a strong foundation for a space-related career in future.

Did you stay in University accommodation? What were your halls of residence like in terms of facilities?

Yes, I lived in Wessex Lane halls in my first year and the facilities were very good. I had a clean, large room, and there was 24/7 security onsite.

Do you like living in Southampton? What are the benefits of Southampton as a city? Do you feel safe in the city?

I like living here because wherever I am, I am close to the University campus. The city is small enough to not waste a lot of time getting around, but large enough to have some fun as well. Safety is not an issue, at least around the university areas.

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