Member benefit: downloadable outreach resource please click here.
Route into Engineering
I did my GCSE and A-levels equivalents in France (Baccalauréat) where I took Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Philosophy, French, English and German. I then went straight to university for what would be considered an MEng in Engineering in the UK with a specialization in Materials Engineering. During my last year, I did a 4-months internship in a Swedish University (Norrköping) where I worked in a laboratory alongside PhD students and researchers on energy generation and water sanitation using oxide nanostructures. I then moved to the UK and completed an MSc in Advanced Materials at Cranfield University where I had the opportunity to work once again in a laboratory with PhD students and researchers for my MSc thesis, but this time on a bioengineering project. The aim was to use nano-polymers to detect immunoglobulin G (IgG) in the blood for early blood cancers detection. I loved the idea of mixing engineering and medicine, which is what convinced me to do my PhD at Loughborough, which I started right after my MSc in October 2017!
The aim of my work is to produce tiny spheres that contain a drug and that will be used to improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease (a group of diseases related to the heart and blood vessels). These tiny spheres are going to be injected in the patient’s blood vessels and dissolve to release the drug, a bit like an aspirin in water, and thus remove the fat build-up in the blood vessel that is responsible for some cardiovascular diseases. So, my job is all about the production of these spheres (we call them particles) in a laboratory. I’m responsible for choosing the best materials, chemicals and methods to produce the particles and make sure that they are the right size and that they don’t cause harm to the body.
I first head to the laboratory and start by preparing my experiments and getting the materials and chemicals I need ready (some of them are kept in the fridge so I need to take them out so they’re at room temperature when I use them). I then go to my office to check my emails and plan what I need to do for the day. Them, I go back to the lab and run the experiments of the day and take pictures and videos of the particles I produced using powerful microscopes and cameras. I do some testing on the particles to see how fast they dissolve and if the drug is well encapsulated. Once I’m done with this, I head back to the office and analyse my results on my desktop (this mainly involves using Excel and another piece of software to determine the size of the particles). After that, I do a bit of planning for the next day and it’s time to go home! I also have bi-weekly meetings with both my supervisors to discuss the project’s progress.
I also teach to undergraduate students on a weekly basis and meet with both my supervisors every other week so we can talk about the research's progress and they can help me out if needed.
I love being active in so many ways! I love sports, especially weight training, running, HIIT, football and yoga. I also adore going on long walks to calm my mind down or on hikes. But I’m also passionate about volunteering and helping the people around me. I’ve been involved with the Loughborough PhD Social and Support Network where I went from being the Health and Fitness Coordinator to the Chair, and worked with a team of 9 to 11 other PhD Students on making fellow PhD students’ experience more enjoyable, less stressful and less lonely by organising a wide range of social, sporting, academic, artistic and cultural events.
I’ve also been involved with WES through the Loughborough Student Group, the University Groups Board and now as a member of the Events Directors' Committee and as the She's an Engineer Coordinator.
I love volunteering for some of my students’ union community outreach projects including cooking and serving dinners to the members of the local community in need of support, playing sports with young asylum seekers and organising cultural one-day events for kids.
I’m definitely obsessed with books and love spending some of my free time reading!
I also find it really important to regularly spend some quality time with the people I love to switch off from work and nurture these relationships.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and to ask questions! More often than not, people are more than happy to help you.
I love the flexibility doing a PhD gives. I don’t have a fix schedule (e.g. working from 9am to 5pm) and it’s more or less up to me to decide what suits me best. If I have an appointment, I can easily get out of the lab for a couple of hours and just work later that evening to make up for it.
I also love being completely in charge of my project. Of course, I still need my supervisors’ advice, but I am still completely responsible for pretty much everything about my project and thus don’t depend on other people to progress. Which means that I’m responsible for finding solutions to all the problems that occur, or to at least find someone who can help. And it forces me to think really hard on the problems, try different potential solutions and look for more information online or in books, and I love it!
What I don’t like as much, is basically related to the points I made just before. Having flexibility in my schedule means that more often than not I find myself working very long days and not taking many breaks. And the fact that I’m working on my project on my own means that I sometimes feel quite isolated and miss being with people. Although most of the time there are other people working in the same laboratory but on different projects, we don’t chat that much as we are very absorbed in what we are doing (we often work with dangerous chemicals, so we do need to be very careful and focused!). But the later was solved by getting involved in different societies and volunteering!