One World Week: A Spotlight on International Placement Projects

one world week university of surrey

This week celebrates One World Week at the University of Surrey. Developed by the One World Week Charity, the aim is to raise awareness of the rich cultural diversity we are lucky to have within our student body, as well as encouraging students from all backgrounds to expand their views of the world we live in. More information about the One World Week activities on campus can be found here.

To celebrate One World Week, we put a spotlight on some amazing placement year projects that our students have completed. The examples below show just some of the great work that our students are doing around the world, as well as some examples of projects that make a real difference to global issues.

Spotlight on 4 student placement year projects:

Sam Pemberton, Mathematics

Sam Pemberton completed his placement year at Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and waste services company. Here Sam talks about the water shortage challenges he discovered as a result of his placement year and the work he undertook to make a positive change:

At the end of my first year at the University of Surrey I travelled to Indonesia to do voluntary work in an orphanage. It was located in the middle of the jungle some distance from the nearest town. The living environment was completely different to the UK, and it was there that I appreciated the precious value of drinking water and how easily we can take this resource for granted in the UK.

During my placement year at Thames Water, I came to recognise the significant water shortage problem the South East of England faces. I undertook work to explore and understand the water consumption patterns of their customers. By analysing data using a variety of techniques and software packages, (some of which I had previously used whilst at University) I found indicators that could be used to estimate the water consumption of different properties. These findings and the resulting extrapolations provided a foundation, for gaining better insight into water usage, planning for the future water resource requirements, and for ideas that could lead to improved water efficiency programs.”

Catherine Okuboyejo, Biochemistry

Catherine Okuboyejo had the unique opportunity to work on a research project for United Airlines studying fatigue in airline pilots:

As a biochemistry student interested in sleep and circadian rhythms, I did my placement at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University (WSU) in Spokane, Washington, USA. I worked in the Occupational Sleep Medicine Group, led by Dr Gregory Belenky, who performs fatigue studies for United Airlines. The studies involve comparing pilot sleep and performance on flights that are inside Federal Aviation Administration regulations to flights which are outside of the regulations.

For me, the most rewarding outcome was gaining an interest in data analytics and thus a career direction. Advised and encouraged by WSU, I undertook an online course through the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John’s Hopkins University in data science. Using knowledge I gained on the course, I was able to help write the code for a plot for an analysis technique that has been submitted for a patent. Finally, I was recommended by WSU to a company in London who I have already started working for.”

Kaitlin Day, Biomedical Sciences

Kaitlin Day completed her placement for the BASE Facility (Be Active Sleep Eat) in Australia within the Nutritional Research Department. Kaitlin worked on a huge range of projects including assisting with a human clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of a current sleep apnoea treatment and validating a piece of lab equipment (DXA for measurement of visceral fat).

I am incredibly proud and honoured to have worked for the BASE Facility in Melbourne, Australia as a Research Assistant. My placement was an opportunity for me to gain valuable experience within an active research group. I gained skills in review writing and preparing a manuscript for publication. Working on two separate data collection projects I was able to acquire essential skills within the laboratory. Working with participants helped teach me valuable communication skills especially in communicating research goals to the public. I have furthered my working relationship with BASE through carrying on project work through my dissertation and have had a systematic review, completed with the department recently accepted for publication. I gained amazing insight into the world of work and hope to be able to encourage other students to engage with this placement and seize this amazing opportunity in a wonderful part of the world.”

George Butler, Civil Engineering

George Butler chose to complete his Professional Training Year placement overseas with Arup. George was challenged with ground-breaking analysis and design of some iconic tall building structures, and worked effectively alongside the Chinese engineering team, having to overcome significant language barriers and cultural differences.

I grew up on a farm in Dorset and was drawn to Civil Engineering for the chance to use maths and physics to solve practical problems. I have been especially taken by the structural engineering modules of my degree, so decided that this was the discipline for my Professional Training Year. I was fortunate enough to be accepted by the Structures Department of Arup’s Hong Kong office in July 2015.

My role within Arup was as an assistant to the engineers in my team. I worked primarily on analysis models of high rise buildings in the early stages of design; the highlight was being part of the 3 person team responsible for a bid that won Arup a 459m skyscraper project. Throughout my placement I became especially proficient with a new design programme – after my PTY had finished and I was travelling Vietnam I gave a presentation on this software to the Vietnam Arup Structures team.”

Student of the Year 2017 Nominees!

All students featured are currently nominated for our Student of Year Award 2017, the judging for which will take place on Tuesday 28th March 2017 at the University of Surrey. Check back on this blog for highlights from this event!