Electronic & Electrical Engineering (MEng) Danielle Gunn

Danielle is in her final year of studying Electronic & Electrical Engineering (MEng), here she tells how blended learning has affected her experience.

Why Strathclyde

I first heard about the University of Strathclyde in my third year of high school, I was 15 and had just completed my work experience with SSE shadowing the linesmen. On completing the work experience I was offered an apprenticeship with the company, but I had always wanted to go to University, my manager suggested looking at the courses run by Strathclyde.

I chose to study at Strathclyde when I came across Electronic & Electrical Engineering while spending a great deal of time reading through the various engineering courses run by Strathclyde. I was so excited reading about each year of study with possibilities to study abroad and the opportunities for working scholarships. The course sounded like just what I was looking for with my career aspirations to work as an electrical engineer in the power industry and gain as much hands-on experience as I could. The campus was ideally situated in the city centre as I wasn’t very familiar with Glasgow, it made it very easy to settle in. It ticked all the boxes, an excellent reputation and an exciting course I couldn’t wait to start.

Graham Hills building artwork

Online learning

I feel Strathclyde adapted well to a challenging situation, throughout the transition to online learning student feedback has been requested and acted upon. I do think communication was slow at times as the university was reacting to [Coronavirus] guidance from the Scottish government. I feel it would have been better if the university had stated the course would be fully online in semester one. I understand they were keen to get people back on campus if it became possible, but I think it created some confusion and false hope that practical work would be achievable in the master’s projects.

At times, I have found the online learning very challenging and stressful, I feel it takes a lot longer to work through the class content when working fully from home. On average, it takes me two to three times the length of a pre-recorded video lecture to work through the video and take notes. I have always relied on peer to peer learning to fully understand aspects of my course, this just hasn’t been possible from home, so I am spending more time reading and trying to understand the content individually. It has been a big adjustment to the style in which I learn, but I am adapting to the situation.

I have found it highly beneficial to have the pre-recorded lecture for each of my classes, this has allowed me to review topics that I find most challenging more than once and is a good resource to review content before an assessment. There is definitely a balance that could be made in the future of teaching between online learning and in classroom learning, I believe a flipped classroom approach would have worked well for myself throughout the course. This would involve the main lecture content being provided as online videos and then in class time a condensed lecture of the main points or some activities to reinforce what was learned.

I have found it highly beneficial to have the pre-recorded lecture for each of my classes, this has allowed me to review topics that I find most challenging more than once and is a good resource to review content before an assessment.

Keeping in touch

Each of my classes have run at least one weekly online session where you can interact with the lecturer and the other students. I have found that lecturers have been responding more quickly to emails and are arranging one to one meetings to assist with any troubles that I have had. I find the student interaction is a fraction of what it would be under normal circumstances which has been socially difficult.

Studying at home

My studies have been undertaken from home, this has posed some challenges as my husband is currently also working fully from home. It makes it difficult to get a quiet place to sit and take part in online classes as we are both sharing the same space and he also has regular meetings that he has to attend. I have always found that I don’t make as much progress with my studies when working from home and so regularly used the library or student zone to complete tutorials and assignments. I have noticed an improvement in the work I am able to do working at home

Danielle Gunn at her desk with laptop

About the course

I find I learn best from applying theory to practice and being able to physically see what is happening, the course is great at enabling learning in this way as it has a good balance of practical activities and theoretical learning. There are labs for nearly every module or simulation - based activities. There are lots of opportunities to work with your classmates, so you quickly get to know everyone and make friends. The lecturers are really supportive and are genuinely interested to hear your opinion on a subject, you are treated more like a colleague than a student.

There have been a few highlights throughout my time at Strathclyde, obtaining a power academy scholarship with SP Energy Networks in my 2nd year, submitting my dissertation at the end of my 4th year project, being awarded a masters scholarship with Scottish Power, working on my masters group project and signing the contract to start my graduate job starting in September of this year. Studying at Strathclyde has enabled and supported each of these achievements.

The lecturers are really supportive and are genuinely interested to hear your opinion on a subject, you are treated more like a colleague than a student.

Looking to the future

My ambitions for the future involve attaining chartered engineering status and working within the power industry focusing on potentially protection and control systems and how they are adapting to the further integration of renewable energy or moving more towards energy storage and facilitation of offshore wind while supporting the grid. I believe the university will help me achieve these goals through the provision of the student IET membership, this allowed me to attend a talk on how to become chartered and what you could do to prepare for the interview.

The continued support in the completion of my masters has also prepared me well for going into industry and beginning my career.

Final thoughts

I would definitely recommend Strathclyde to other people. The university prepares you to go into working in industry with excellent industry connections, my course in particular really teaches you how to effectively learn making the learning process in your graduate role a much smoother transition having covered a wide base of relative topics. The opportunities that have come from studying at Strathclyde such as the Power Academy have been invaluable to my careers progression.

I have really enjoyed my time at Strathclyde and have seen my confidence improve year upon year as well as my technical skills and understanding. I feel confident and excited to begin my graduate role, my course has prepared me for this next step in my career and I have built a network of people to support me along the way as a result of my time at Strathclyde.  

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