Design Manufacturing & Engineering ManagementMichael Aldridge

Why did you choose to study with us?

I had always had an interest in design and engineering, although before university I did not really know what a design engineer was. Instead I found that my hobbies, interests and abilities (for the most part) coincided with the Product Design Engineering course. I chose to study here because of the strong engineering background, which best suited my interests.

Since leaving university, where have you worked and where are you currently working? What does your role involve?

Upon graduating, I initially split my time between travelling and working for some of Scotland’s leading design firms. This experience enabled me to start a design consultancy of my own called MADE Products.

As my own boss, I am responsible for sourcing and fulfilling my own projects. We are also looking at generating our own products and intellectual property. This is a fantastic challenge and something I really enjoy.

How did studying with us provide you with opportunities to begin or further your career?

You shouldn’t believe you will leave university with all the knowledge required to immediately be productive in industry - that is impossible. Instead, you'll leave with all the knowledge required to begin a career.

The department was a brilliant and vital stepping stone to getting to where I am today. It taught me the framework for design and the fundamentals of engineering, manufacture and management.

Thinking back to your university experience, would you have done anything differently?

I would be sure to fully utilise all the resources of the University, particularly the workshop and technicians. Regretfully, I don’t think I really began to recognise this resource until my final years. The technicians really are one of the department’s greatest assets.

Also, I think I would try to become more involved with industry while at university. I would make more efforts to network, find internships with design engineering consultancies and, if possible, I would try to find a final-year project that I could work on in tandem with an industry partner.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I would have to say being one of the designers responsible for designing the Queen’s Baton for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

It was an incredible opportunity to design something that would be seen and touched by so many people around the world and to design something that we knew would, one day, become a part of history. This was a very proud time for me and all the team.

What advice would you give to current students in the Department of Design, Manufacturing & Engineering Management?

Experience is king! Having run several internships myself, I can tell you that everyone leaves university with a degree, but few leave with industry experience. If you can find a part-time or summer job in any design or engineering company, you will immediately stand out from your peers and you will begin to find new meaning on all your course work.

Also, if you get the opportunity, do an exchange year.