Ed White – MSc Advanced Engineering Design

“One of the best things I’ve taken away from the programme is how to approach a problem. Taking a step back from what might have been done previously and breaking it down into the primary system functions you actually need to work on.”

What made you decide to do the MSc Advanced Engineering design?
I studied marine and composites technology as an undergraduate and had heard of the MSc, I was familiar with some of the staff and thought it would be a good way to broaden my opportunities, knowledge and, skills.

What role did you move onto after graduating from the MSc Advanced Engineering Design?

While I was working on my thesis, I was approached by the Managing Director of a start-up called HydroSurv. The MD had experience of working with undergraduates from the University and was looking for someone with my skill set. I was employed there as a Marine Design Engineer.

What have you been working on in the role of Marine Design Engineer?
It has been a lot of project-based work. I was given a brief for a prototype unmanned surface vessel. I went through the whole process from that initial specification to final production and testing of the prototype. I certainly found that the skills acquired on the course have helped me in the role.

What does a typical day look like for you in your role?
Being part of a small start-up company means you get to wear many hats at times! For most of the time I was the only engineer and did everything from concept design work to naval architecture. As well as designing I went on to take part in the creation of the practical elements of the project. I got my hands on the electrical fit out and even did a bit of plastic welding. As it was initially a small start-up it meant I was involved with many elements of the business, not just the typical role a design engineer might do. The best example of this was presenting the company engineering design portfolio for investment pitches which was a great opportunity to build my confidence and expand my skillset.

How has the MSc Advanced Engineering Design helped in your role?
One of the best things I’ve taken away from the programme is how to approach a problem. Taking a step back from what might have been done previously and breaking it down into the primary system functions you actually need to work on. For example, we achieved ISO 9001 accreditation during the first lockdown. For this, I put together some engineering department procedures that were formulated around the knowledge on system design theory I had gained on the programme.

What did you enjoy most about your experience studying at Plymouth?
Part of my reason for taking the programme at the University of Plymouth was that I had good relationships with the lecturers and knew that they had extensive knowledge within their specific disciplines. Although that relationship changed between being an undergrad to a masters student, where we were treated more as peers. There was a lot of discussion within the programme, of course there were more focused taught modules where formal teaching was done, but Tony and other members of staff were good at pulling ideas out of us.

Another reason for staying here was the area itself and some of the clubs and activities that I took part in. I was a committee member on the canoe club, so had many friends there that I wanted to stay around for. Besides, the region has some spectacular countryside and I didn’t want to leave that. I have a very active outdoor lifestyle, being able to access that so easily here really suits me.

How were the University support services?
The support services were great. Any of the laboratories that I might have needed were available. I predominately used the high-performance computers. They have the processing power to run the engineering packages at a level that simply isn’t possible on most home pcs.

What advice would you give to people thinking of taking the MSc Advanced Engineering Design?
Have a sense of what you want to get out of the programme before taking it. It’s a great opportunity to explore a project but having either experience in industry already or a clear idea of what you want to achieve with it will help you get the most out of it.