Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Manufacturing Engineering Tripos

So, as most people who know me will already know, I'm switching courses next year. Sort of. I've spent the last two years doing a broad-based general engineering undergraduate course, and rather than specialising in a discipline for my third and fourth years, I'm switching tripos.

Instead of the standard engineering stuff, I'll instead be on the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos, commonly abbreviated to MET (which then has the backronym of 'Management and Engineering Tripos). In short, it's basically a course that focuses far more on management, industrial processes and product design, manufacture and marketing. It's a shift from the more mathematical and pure side of engineering to the more practical, real-world business side. It's accredited by IMechE, and I'll still get the same BA (to later be a cantab MA) and MEng at the end of it. It is in a different department though, and rather than being in the Engineering department it's in the fancy new Alan Reece building in West Cambridge:

The disadvantage of that being that instead of a two minute walk from Downing I've now got a forty minute walk, or a five to ten minute cycle.

MET is generally regarded by engineers as a "sell-out" option for the first two years, because it's choosing to drop out of hardcore pure engineering to go do soft management stuff and make a ton of money doing lesser work. Jokingly I'll say that I'm doing it so I can be lazy and because I don't mind becoming The Man and making a fuckload of cash. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was appealing, but it's not the primary reason I'm doing it.

Mostly I just think it'll be a more enjoyable course. If I'm doing design projects, labs, presentations and industrial visits rather than maths, maths and a bit more maths, then I genuinely don't see how it can't be better. The Integrated Design Project last year did, at times, make me want to choke a bitch, but in reflection it was fairly enjoyable, and it would have gone a lot better if I'd done things a bit differently, and if a couple of my project team members didn't do a few things which were retarded and screwed stuff up (not that I'd shift the blame entirely on them).

I'm sure the introductory lectures for MET were designed to be extremely interesting and engaging, and that was half the point, but I still really enjoyed them, and I found the topics they covered to just be far more interesting than the sort of crap we get in Structures, Electrical Circuits and the like. Plus they're grounded in real-world concepts again. Half of the reason I did engineering in the first place rather than pure physics or maths is because engineering sticks to real-world problems and solutions, and tends to avoid theoretical and less tangible concepts because they have no use or application. Except advanced engineering moves into concepts that aren't so intuitive and easily visualised and/or explained. MET takes me back towards that again, and that's what I like doing.

The other aspect is that I just think it'll be a course that I lend myself better to. I've gotten high 2.1 results for the last two years, so it's not like I'm anywhere near under-performing on my current course, but I think the skillset for MET is just far more suited to me than what I'm doing now.

Plus MET students get free tea and coffee, and free cake on Fridays, and I'm all about free cake (inb4 the cake is a lie).

I splashed out a bit today on Amazon and bought a load of books that are on the reading list they gave us a couple of months ago. So far I've only read two off the list, one of which, The Goal, by EM Goldratt and J Cox, was an absolutely fantastic book. It's essentially a book that teaches and explains important philosophies and principles to successful management, but it's written in a first person narrative and is quite a compelling story.

I'm still not entirely sure what I'll do when I leave. My guess is that I'll continue on the standard sell-out route and go into consultancy or some sort of technical management role. Really, I don't know, and I probably won't until next year when I'll have probably talked to a few graduates and I'll be starting to look for jobs myself. I might do a PhD, but I doubt it. As much as it'd be awesome to remain a student and not get a job, I think it'll be pretty dull, and from MET at least the only area of expertise I think might be interesting is industrial photonics (that's high-powered lasers and stuff in laymen's terms). I don't want to seem like a Bill O'Neill fanboy, but it does seem to involve quite a lot of pretty cool shit, though I'm sure the actual technical stuff is complicated and difficult as hell.

Above anything, the prospect of a new course is exciting. It's almost like being back before starting my first year, where I have a mixture of excitement and nervousness, having a rough idea of what thing should be like but at the same time not entirely knowing what to expect. I really can't wait for term to start.


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  2. Is it hard to study Manufacturing Engineering as for a girl? I've been planing to study this course. Will it have a bright future? Btw I'm from Malaysia :))

    1. It's no harder than it is for a guy :P

      As engineering courses go, it's actually one which has quite a high number of females taking it.