John McDowell

After graduation...

I have started an engineering doctorate (EngD) with the Industrial Doctoral Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE). This course differs from most doctorates in that it is very much industry focused, and has an intense year-long taught component (encompassing a variety of modules relating to the engineering, technical, theoretical, and policy aspects of offshore renewable energy). For the remaining three years of the course, I will be working with the tidal energy company Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd (SME), and will be looking at aspects of improving their moorings and device efficiency.

My previous work experience was enjoyable, and has undoubtedly been useful, but I feel that it was my MSc that really unlocked the door to my current career.

Your time at Plymouth

The MSc enabled me to take my first steps into the technical/engineering side of the renewable energy industry. Without it, I would not have had the industry knowledge, or scientific understanding to progress within such a demanding sector.

My favourite moment was finishing an exam for the module mechanics of marine renewables. I walked out of that exam knowing I had done well, and feeling like I truly understood a subject in which a few months previously I had no expertise. I will soon start work on my EngD thesis on mooring design and turbine efficiency. It involves many of the principles that I first learned about at the University of Plymouth.

I have kept in touch with the vast majority of people on my MSc Marine Renewable Energy. We were always on good terms, socially and academically. While I see less of them since moving away, we chat regularly, exchange information and employment opportunities, and meet up at industry conferences. I also keep in touch with many of the postgraduates and a few of the lecturers with whom I worked on my MSc dissertation.

The academic staff are excellent. If you have a question, or are finding something difficult, do not hesitate to go and see the relevant lecturer. In my experience, they were pleased to have enthusiastic individuals engaging with the material, and would always give help/feedback.

Last of all, any advice?

Stick to what you’re truly interested and passionate about. I had an engaging job, in a somewhat related line of work, and I’m sure that I could’ve happily stayed there for many years. One of the hardest choices I’ve had to make was that decision, to leave and choose a more focused course of education so that I could pursue what I really wanted to do.

Sunset Offshore Wind Turbine in a Wind farm under construction of England coast, UK. Image courtesy of Getty Images.  
shutterstock wave image