Miodownik wins Royal Society Faraday Prize and Lecture
“Professor Miodownik represents the excellent calibre of public engagement that the Michael Faraday Prize aims to celebrate." Professor Russell Foster CBE FMedSci FRS.Read more
This week we put seven questions to Thomas Nivet, a UCL Mechanical Engineering student and member of UCL Triumph – a team of Master’s students taking part in an international competition to design and build an energy efficient boat.
As most students finishing A-levels, I had no clue about what I wanted to do next. Being pretty good at physics and mathematics, engineering felt like the best option as it kept my future job opportunities open and was a subject I was interested in.
If I had to answer that question now, I would say that this subject prepares you pretty well for the future. You are involved in many group projects that you can relate to real life professional projects, which is great practice.
Now considering my plans, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do. I feel like consulting is the right way to go for me as it still involves group projects, which I love, and solving critical issues that will challenge the ‘savoir-faire’ I have gained at university.
Even though I have been involved with quite a few great projects over the years, it is my final year group project that has been the most interesting: as part of the UCL Triumph team, we have to design, manufacture and test a large remote control boat to participate in the Hydrocontest, an international university competition. We get to go to Geneva to compete, which is pretty cool.
As it is only our first time competing, our goal is to represent the university as best we can and hopefully get to the knockout stages. The competition has a big emphasis on inspiring generations and exposing the general public to the need for energy efficiency. We’re hoping to compete as the most sociable team with our team Instagram and Facebook pages – make sure you follow us! Hopefully we are doing a good job at relaying the Hydros Foundation’s message.
Having never studied naval architecture before, the major challenge was actually trying to understand the theory behind how boats work. We’ve cracked it (we think!) and our boat designs are currently with the manufacturer being made.
Our next greatest challenge was funding. As you can imagine, making a 2.5m remote control boat out of composite is fairly pricey, so we’ve been looking everywhere for sponsors. We’ve almost hit our target now having signed CD-Adapco, IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers), Vinci Energies UK and the Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture Group to our cause.
Well, we are all fourth years, so we won’t be taking part in the project next year. We are getting ready to hand over to our successors before graduating. Hopefully, with the experience of our team and our designs to work upon, next year’s team will have a real chance of dominating the competition. We’re set to meet up again late November when we present our work to the IMechE board, a huge honour for all the team.
We’ve all been best friends pretty much since fresher’s week. Most of us have even lived with each other at one stage or another. We all come from different backgrounds and live all over the world. After uni most of us will leave London, which is a sad thought. Forming UCL Triumph was our chance to go out with a bang, but we’ll definitely stay friends afterwards!
While I have been at university, rather than looking for an individual to inspire me, I look around my friend group and colleagues. We try to push each other to be our best and achieve more – there is no harm in a bit of friendly competition!
As an example, even though UCL Triumph is the only group from UCL competing in the Hydrocontest, seeing the work of UCL Hydrone and the UCL Formula Student Team has been a great inspiration and driving force for our own success.
The professional level of UCL’s racing teams is a daily source of inspiration and gives us the extra dose of determination that is required to achieve better results.
My first tip is to make the most of your first year and free time – the years fly by really quickly, especially the later into your degree you are. Take some time to travel around the UK and have some fun while you still have the chance; it’ll keep you from going crazy with your studies!
Take advantage of being in London and try what it has to offer. We all love The Court but there is life beyond. Try a roast duck in China Town, go to Borough Market for some cheese and, most importantly, watch a Premier League game with a British lager in a good British pub.
Join a sport society – there is no way I could have had as much fun at university if I had not been part of the UCLU Men’s Football Club. It’s the best way you can meet new people and it’s a great way of mixing beyond your course or accommodation, especially in your first year.