Eilidh Pearce - Mechanical Engineering Student at University of Glasgow

Issued: Wed, 22 Jul 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I was voted ‘Most likely to be a millionaire’ in my school yearbook!

Tell us about your career journey so far

I’m about to go into my 3rd year studying mechanical engineering at University so I still have a long way to go. At school, I was given the opportunity to complete a 2-year foundation apprenticeship in engineering at college alongside my other school subjects. I knew nothing about engineering at the time, but I enjoyed maths and physics, so I thought I’d give it a go. It was through completing the course I realised engineering was what I wanted to pursue after I left school.

In the future I would like to be working on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva! It would be a dream to be a part of their ground-breaking experiments and I love that engineering can allow me to be a part of projects that will change the world.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I think I enjoyed doing music at school the most. Practical subjects allow you to get something tangible out of your hard work, which is really important to me, but not something that every subject offers. It is also quite a social subject, meaning I was able to work collaboratively with others.

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

It is crucial to have good grades in maths and physics, as they are heavily involved in most of what we are learning. It is also helpful to have knowledge in chemistry for when you’re studying materials, as is graphic communications when using design software, and design and manufactures for when you’re in the workshop, but it’s not essential – you will get taught everything you need to know by your lecturers.

What is a normal day in your role like?

This varies a lot each day of the week; some days I will only have 1 or 2 lectures, while other days I might have 5. We also have tutorial sessions where we can ask our lecturers for help, and of course labs where we put what we are learning into practice by doing experiments. I will usually have a meeting a for group project as well.

We only have around 20 contact hours per week, which may not seem like a lot, but there’s a lot of content to learn and it’s up to you to get it done. That means I spend a lot of time at the library between my classes, but I am rarely alone – I find getting through work is faster and more enjoyable when there’s a small group of you working together and sharing your understanding

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I’d definitely have to say the wide range of topics that we cover at University. After only 2 years, we have had had classes in about 13 different topics, such as fluid dynamics, mechanics of structures and even computer programming.

Yes, there is a lot of maths involved, but I’ve always thought each subject requires a slightly different kind of thinking. If there is a certain area you do not particularly enjoy (for me that would definitely be electronics), then that’s only a small part of the wide range of what you’re looking at every day. You get the chance to find out what you really enjoy and can focus on this as you go further, as there’s even more specialised subjects as you advance.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

For a group project, we were given the exciting, but slightly daunting task of building a trebuchet; a catapult with a sling used to launch a projectile. We were marked on how far we could fire a ball, and how accurate it was – the ball couldn’t fire off in a different direction every time, as that wouldn’t be very effective in combat, so the ball had to always land in the same place. This proved to be a difficult challenge, but of course a lot of fun!

I really like this guide for a catapult using a tissue box, pencils and elastic bands, though a plastic spoon might be better for the launching arm, so you don’t need to glue on a bottle cap.

https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1587572877/davisk12utus/l10hnv5rbwa1iahevl0s/STEM-TissueBoxCatapult.pdf

This is a brilliant, but slightly more complicated catapult made using just pencils and elastic bands

https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/pencil-catapult-school-stem-activity/

An even simpler catapult can be made using popsicle sticks, elastic bands, and a plastic spoon

https://buggyandbuddy.com/stem-activity-for-kids-popsicle-stick-catapults/


If you're a STEM Ambassador in Scotland and want to share your story you can download the form here.