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  • Writer's pictureAidan Sturrock

An Interview With Our Engineering Placement Students: Experiences in Marine Energy



Student placements play a crucial role in bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world application. By offering students hands-on experience in professional environments, placements provide invaluable opportunities for skill development, networking, and personal growth. For companies, students bring fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn, contributing to innovation and productivity.


We were lucky enough to have Callum Gow (right) and Krzysztof Sotowicz (left) join us a couple of months ago from Edinburgh University to complete a 6-month placement as part of their MEng degree in Mechanical Engineering. To capture their insights and reflections, I conducted interviews with them to explore their experiences and sentiments about their time here so far. As a placement student myself (Aidan Sturrock), studying Marketing Management at Edinburgh Napier University, I was interested in getting an insight into the experiences of students studying a completely different field of research than myself, and to see if I could learn any practical skills and mindsets I could apply to my own placement, which has only just begun.


Callum Gow


Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, and how does your placement experience align with your aspirations?


A: I want to pursue a career in mechanical engineering because I want to design new solutions to different engineering applications. I am redesigning a part of the Q-Connect just now and learning new software, such as Orcaflex.


Q: Can you share a specific project or task you've worked on during your internship that challenged you and how you overcame it?


A: I developed an Orcaflex model of a floating structure. Before I joined, I had never used Orcaflex, so developing this model challenged me. Also, I have been working on creating and updating Solidworks drawings for the Q-connect. I previously knew how to make Solidworks drawings; however, I have since learned more details in the software to agree with the company standard for drawings.


Q: What's one valuable lesson or insight you've gained during your placement that you believe anyone aspiring to work towards becoming a mechanical engineer should know?


A: One valuable lesson I have learned during my placement is that working in a team, planning, and delegating tasks is important for the success of the project. Also, communication is important to say which parts of the tasks have been completed.


Q: What's been the most unexpectedly fun or interesting part of your placement so far, and why?


A: The most interesting part so far is learning Orcaflex and developing simulations of different structures because I get to see how they would act in a real-life environment in the sea.


Q: What hobbies and interests do you have outside of mechanical engineering and your studies?


A: I play a lot of sports. I have played rugby for many years and have recently joined the university American football team.


Krzysztof Sotowicz


Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, and how does your internship experience align with your aspirations?


A: For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in physics and how stuff works in general; however, I wasn’t sure which discipline I wanted to pursue until my last year in high school. When I was in high school, I was fortunate to have an incredible physics teacher who got me interested in two fields, namely mechanical engineering and quantum mechanics. When I was applying to university, I had applied for both physics and engineering degrees, hoping that the university could make the decision for me. However, when I was accepted for both, I chose engineering in the hopes that there would be better career opportunities waiting for me after graduation. Also, I was a huge car guy and a F1 fan and everything that goes with it, so I saw myself working in the automotive industry. During my time at the university, I have become more interested in the renewable energy industry, and when I was looking for a placement, Quoceant seemed to match my interests and needs very well. Even though I haven’t definitively decided on the career path I want to follow, I believe that the experience I’ve gained here and the contacts I’ve made will have a huge impact on my future choices.


Q: Can you share a specific project or task you've worked on during your internship that challenged you and how you overcame it?


A: Quoceant works mostly in the marine and offshore renewable industry, which is a very specific field about which you don’t really learn at the university; therefore, all of the projects in which I have been involved pose similar challenges. For example, one of the first projects I was working on was focused on the preparation of a test setup of the sub-system of the device the company is currently working on. I was tasked with designing this setup and selecting appropriate components for the sub-system. Because of the uniqueness of the application for which the device was designed, I had to do a lot of research on corrosion, pressure balancing, galvanic charts, etc., and because of that, I have realised how much I can learn and develop my skills during this internship.


Q: What's one valuable lesson or insight you've gained during your placement that you believe anyone aspiring to work towards becoming a mechanical engineer should know?


A: I have noticed that I and many other engineering students have a very strong drive towards perfection. We tend to dwell on every single mistake, analyse it, and lose sleep over meaningless issues. Engineering is a multifaceted discipline, and mechanical engineering itself is concerned with many aspects ranging from structural mechanics through thermodynamics to fluid mechanics. It’s impossible to be an expert in all of these areas, and you have to learn to sometimes let other people help you with problems they might be better suited to solve. During my placement, I have noticed that at Quoceant, people know their strengths and weaknesses, and they manage their projects so that everyone’s’ talents are put to the best use. So, I think the lesson is to strive to be better but to also remember that it’s okay to not be perfect.


Q: What's been the most unexpectedly fun or interesting part of your internship so far, and why?


A: To be honest, the whole placement so far has been very interesting. I have been involved in many projects. All of them were challenging in their own way, and I feel like I have learned more in the last two months than during my first two years at the university.


Q: What hobbies and interests do you have outside of mechanical engineering and your studies?


A: I became a father a few weeks ago, so most of my time is spent focusing on the baby. However, during my spare time, I like to exercise, play basketball, and go to the gym. I also love to read, mostly Russian literature by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

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