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Steven Sibley

Meng Building Services Engineering Alumni Steven SibleyI've always been interested in the built environment engineering field, however was unsure which avenue to go down; architectural, structural or services. After reviewing the various courses I decided on the building services route. This appealed to me due to the varied nature of the industry and technical aspects of the course. I was also aware that there was a shortage of engineers in the industry which offered better employment opportunities once qualified. I first completed my BEng in Building Services Engineering at Northumbria, graduating in 2004. I managed to secure a permanent position as a graduate mechanical engineer at a multi-disciplinary company prior to completing my degree. I returned to university to complete the Masters degree part-time, graduating in 2011. The industry has proven to be as diverse and interesting as I had hoped, with different challenges and experiences each week. No two projects are the same, even similar jobs present different challenges. The projects I have worked on range from multi-million pound dairy processing factories, hotels, hospitals, academies, universities and schools to office blocks and retail outlets. I have also had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East and Australia as well as more locally, throughout the UK and Ireland.

What are you doing now?

I'm a Chartered Engineer through CIBSE and an Associate at Jackson Coulson Partnership, managing a team of engineers working on various projects both in the UK and Middle East.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria University is widely known within the industry as one of the top Universities in the UK for Building Services Engineering. Very few universities in the UK offer this course, particularly to the same standard that Northumbria can offer.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The Building Services course is very personal. The classes are typically a lot smaller than some of the other courses, allowing for a more informal teaching experience. There was no clear distinction between lectures and seminars, students were encouraged to engage with lecturers throughout the seminars and lectures, asking questions and posing different problems. This resulted in an almost tailored education, covering all core elements and focusing on areas that the students required additional help with. The course is quite intensive, with a large amount of time required dedicating to it. However, a lot of the personal studying required can be done in groups, working through technical problems together. The degree is split between technical/theoretical studies and more practical workshops, where you get the opportunity to see how the theoretical elements equate to real life working principles.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The staff are very knowledgeable in their fields, with experience in the industry. They are also very approachable and always willing to sit down with the students to go over any problems they have.

How connected was your course with industry?

The degree is very industry specific, with many employers in the industry offering support in the form of year out placements and graduate positions. Most employers return year after year to offer placements. The lecturers encourage the students to attend institute lectures and presentations as well as holding regular guest speakers from the industry.

How did studying at Northumbria help give your career an edge?

The Bachelors degree is widely considered to be the minimum level qualification required to secure a job within the industry. However, employers are now considering the Masters degree as 'the norm'. The Masters degree also provides the qualifications necessary to achieve Chartered Status. Although this is still achievable with a lower class of education, the process is significantly more difficult without the qualification.

What was the best thing about your course?

The course is so industry specific, providing invaluable knowledge and skills needed for a career in Building Services Engineering.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

The ability to problem solve; knowing where to look for relative and reliable information and how to apply this to the problem at hand.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The student facilities at Northumbria are fantastic, both academic and social. I've made friends and professional contacts that I still keep in touch with today.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Commitment to the course is vital, put the necessary work into the course and it'll take the stress out of exams and coursework, allowing you to enjoy the student life more.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Challenging, rewarding, and fun.

For more information about me: 

find me on LinkedIn: Steven Sibley

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