Bringing designs to life on my placement year – Munir

Munir is a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Birmingham. He has recently completed a Mechanical Engineering sandwich placement with one of the world’s largest stair lift manufacturers and installers.

The process of applying for a placement, as anyone going through the process will know, can be a long and time consuming task. However, it is most certainly worth the perseverance not only so you can find a placement, but also to give you the practise with interviews and tests which will be invaluable in your future graduate job search. The application process, through Step, was a simple, straightforward task involving creating a Step profile, before talking to the Step team. This was followed by an interview and Solidworks test with the host business which went well, and I started the placement shortly thereafter.

One of the many great things the employer did for me was inviting me in for a day, a month or so before I started, so I could familiarise myself with the environment I would be working in. This meant that when I started my first day I wasn’t completely lost, having gotten to know the people around the office already. For the first couple of weeks of my placement, the current placement student showed me the ropes, which helped to ease my nerves. My colleagues in the office and workshop were really friendly and supportive which helped me to settle in quickly.

For the first month or two, many of the tasks I was set were with a view to determining how capable I was with designing, this was a gentle introduction and meant I wasn’t thrown into the deep end straight away. Soon after, I got involved with project work which I found challenging and more interesting. One of the main projects I took part in was to adapt a current seat into one that would be more suitable for a larger user. I used the CAD software to design the parts and then prototyped them to see if they were suitable. When the finished model was complete I realised that there was complications that I hadn’t seen when designing. This was a great experience of bringing a concept to life and demonstrated to me the benefits of work-based experience.

Throughout the placement I participated in a number of short and long-term projects, which taught me about time management and kept things varied, making sure I wasn’t stuck on one problem for a long period. I greatly enjoyed working as part of a team to solve issues, whilst learning new skills in a real life environment. My placement year enabled me to appreciate the skills taught at university and how they apply to real life situations. For future placement students, the industry year gives you valuable experience and at the very least gets you used to getting up early!

Munir