Tristan Dell completed his Nuffield Research Placement in 2012 in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.
What was your project about?
I spent my time at the University of Bath working on a self guided project looking into small scale wind power devices. After an initial research phase, I got great hands-on experience, iteratively prototyping and testing designs to optimise efficiency. The project also gave me great insight into renewables.
What was the highlight/best bit of your placement?
Having studied product design at school, it was brilliant to have access to a laser cutter. Not only was this really exciting to use, but also allowed me to build prototypes to a higher standard than had previously been possible for me.
What was your least favourite part of the placement?
I spent a fair amount of time reading up on the fundamental physics behind wind power. When it came to several designs which didn’t work, this became frustrating very quickly.
What path did you take after finishing your NRP and how has that led you to where you are today?
After finishing my A-Levels, I applied directly to university. Having applied to study Mechanical Engineering, it is by something of a lucky accident that I’ve ended up studying the course I am now. Materials is a great mixture of applied sciences and engineering which really allows you to work at the cutting edge of things – I love it.
Did your Nuffield Research Placement have an effect on the choices that you made after finishing school/college/university?
A massive benefit of carrying out the placement in a university was that it removed a lot of the unknowns that you face when choosing what to study. Seeing a department first-hand helped me to confirm my passion for engineering, and definitely helped when it came to applying to courses.
If you could give one piece of advice to Nuffield students about to start a placement what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It may seem like your supervisor is busy, but by really engaging with them you’ll get so much more out of your time on placement.