As I reach the halfway point in my postgrad course, I can say it has certainly been a rewarding experience that brings both challenges and opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a change in career or a chance to progress in your current industry, studying for a Masters is definitely the way to go! To use my favourite tag line since coming here, I would say “Give It A Go!”
I have always been passionate about environmental sustainability. When I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I started working for the Canadian Environment Agency as a review engineer, issuing permits to ensure companies complied with environmental legislature. But after several years, I began to question if this was really what I wanted to do.
While I learnt a lot as a regulator, I didn’t really have the experience of dealing with real engineering issues. Solving problems and providing solutions to clients – that experience only comes from being a private sector consultant, who literally worked on the “other side of the fence” submitting projects to me for approval!
At that time, all I could think of was a switch to private consultancy, but I was disheartened by my lack of experience compared to others already working in this area. This was when it dawned on me that further study could be a way to boost my CV. I had always wanted to learn more about the technical aspects of environmental engineering, and the longer I worked for the Environment Agency the more interested I became. Amazingly, when I talked to my supervisor about my career dilemma, his reply was “try Sheffield” - turned out he had completed his MSc here!
I immediately did the research and found the perfect match; a multi-disciplinary program that tackles both energy and environmental sustainability in one of the best schools in the UK. Of course I had my doubts – am I already too old for this? Would Sheffield view my overseas experience favourably? But I decided to just give it a go anyway. And with the help of my supervisor as one of the referees, I was accepted on to the program and also received an entrance scholarship.
If there is one thing I have learnt from my journey to Sheffield, it is to keep exploring the options available to you and don’t be afraid to ask. A glass may be half-full or half-empty, but to an engineer the glass represents the potential to achieve so much more!
Ben Tang, MSc(Eng) Environmental and Energy Engineering