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Helen Douglas

Mechanical Engineering

Where are you from?

Originally Lanark, more recently Aberdeen.

Why did you choose Northumbria University, Newcastle?

I moved to Newcastle in 2009 and wanted to get my degree after getting my HNC at night classes in Aberdeen. After getting a job with an Engineering firm I researched the different options in my area. The best option was part time study, so I asked for day release, and they gave me it, now they are even paying my fees!

What do you think of Newcastle and our region and what are your favourite things to do?

I really love it. My most favourite thing to do is skate for Newcastle Roller girls, I'm addicted to roller derby. Other than that, my partner and I love eating out and going to the cinema. When we aren't skating or eating we quite like wandering round Wheetslade or heading to the O2 or other venues to see bands.

What has surprised you most about living in Newcastle and this region? What has impressed you most?

I thought I would miss Aberdeen, but there are so many excellent things. The architecture, the history and the art culture to name a few. I've seen some of my  all-time favourite bands, as they often don't head as far north as Aberdeen. I've visited the Baltic several times and have friends who keep me informed of all sorts of nights.

Did you find Northumbria University welcoming? Was it easy to fit in?

The part timers tend to work really well together and the banter is good. We do tend to miss the social aspect that the full timers take part in. Mainly as we are working full time and have established lives within the Toon.

What have you enjoyed most about coming to Northumbria University?

The challenges and the opportunities I can see developing. I am keen to work in renewables and knowing that Northumbria has this as a favourite is definitely helping me set my sights on something interesting for my final year. This has also coincided with my work branching out into subsea renewables, and developing new technology for connector management systems for connecting units to the national grid. Rolling my interests in studying and work together.

Who has helped you most since you came to Northumbria?

My partner is a qualified engineer who is now a Project Manager. He has introduced me to his friends Gareth and Gemma Ayre who have guided and helped me through my university when I've had issues, and introduced me to the IMechE and also to Jenna Tudor, who helped me choose to come to Northumbria, and ended up being one of my first lecturers, and a very good one.

Who has inspired you most at Northumbria University?

My classmates all have challenges, so seeing those who have made it through to 3rd year is one of the inspiring things. Lecturers however have a big influence on how we feel about the university. Jenna Tudor kept us sane in the initial introduction of 1st year, Dr David Bell was the star of 2nd year while Reaz Hasan and Khamid Mahkamov have made our energy lectures a joy. However a special mention to the Maths Dept, as both Diane and Sara guided us through complicated subjects and prepared us very well for our exams.

What is your favourite place on campus?

The Library seems to be my regular haunt but that's due to my exams looming. However, working full time, means the 24 hour opening allows me to get a decent amount of work done of an evening without worry of getting kicked out when I've got "in the zone".

What is the best thing about your course?

The future it allows me to contemplate. The passion that some of the lecturers have for their subjects and the knowledge that I can access those people and work with them to discover or develop something new which will hopefully make a difference in the world.

What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt to date?

Hard work pays off, and I have the ability to do anything if I put the effort in.

What do you want to do in the future? What skills have you learned/improved that you think will be of most use in your future career?

My mechanical skills was missing. However I have discovered an interest in materials and corrosion which I like to think will stand me in good stead working in subsea engineering.

Have you worked on any projects with businesses or been on a placement? What were your most memorable experiences?

I have worked on connector management systems for EMEC, and Alstom tidal turbines. I am currently working on the Nautilus Project to aid our build of the next two vehicles, having helped with the initial one. These three vehicles are being used to harvest minerals from the seafloor in hostile environments i.e. volcanic regions. I am loving being at the forefront of technology.

If you could offer some advice to students thinking of coming to study here what would you say?

To the mature students thinking of coming to stud - I would tell them to take the bull by the horns and jump in. Find a study buddy and set an evening a week as a regular thing, even when you think you've got nothing to study. It's amazing how a bit of routine can help with the final outcome.

How do you feel you have changed as a person since being at Northumbria University, Newcastle (e.g. confidence)?

I've realised I can study if I put my mind to it. I can also procrastinate with the best of them. Planning time and controlling my environment when I'm studying and bullying myself into working is definitely something I have found I can do. I have less tolerance for time wasting and people who don't deserve my time.

If you had 3 words to sum up your time with us what would they be?

Frustrating, inspiring, impatient

Would you recommend Northumbria University to a friend?



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