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Scot Billison, BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering


United Kingdom
I have just finished a 14-month placement with a marine-based engineering contractor. It was a fantastic experience and I feel I’ve developed a wide range of my working skills, as well as understanding where I see myself heading career-wise within the industry.

More about Scott

Why did you choose NTU and your course?

From a young age I have always taken an interest in engineering, particularly solving and managing problems, project work and the construction industry.  This led me down the route of Civil Engineering at University.

As for choosing NTU, when I first visited the University, I had a good feeling about it. The campus, accommodation and facilities were nice, and the location within the city was ideal.  The course staff were friendly and enthusiastic too. It’s turned out to be a great choice!

What is the best thing about your course?

I think the best thing about my course is how directly you can apply what you learn to what you do in your role in the working world, be it within the construction industry or elsewhere.

Even if you decide to pursue a slightly different career path, the skillsets you develop through a course like Civil Engineering are transferrable across many different disciplines.

Have you been involved in any live projects or exciting briefs?

In First Year, we were tasked with designing a new outbuilding on the green space next to the Dryden Centre on City Campus.  Building work is now underway to construct the ‘Dryden Enterprise Centre’ on this site. It is interesting to see a site getting developed within the University itself, as well as being a site you have carried out design work for.

More recently in Second Year, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Week saw us deliver a design project to help with real-life issues faced by people in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu.  The best designs were taken forward to be considered for use.

Have you completed any work placements on your course?

I have just finished a 14-month placement with a marine-based engineering contractor. As an Engineer my time was split between office-based and site-based work, working on several different projects all over the country.

As I progressed through the year, I was given more responsibility, eventually managing engineering deliverables in the office, as well as the engineering aspects of the projects on site.  What I enjoyed most was being able to seeing a project through from start to finish – from winning the contract, to carrying out feasibility studies and determining how best to carry out the works, to then going to site and delivering the project.

It was a fantastic experience and I feel I’ve developed a wide range of my working skills, as well as understanding where I see myself heading career-wise within the industry.

How did you source your placement?

I had knowledge of the company I worked for prior to looking for a placement because I had worked for them previously during Summer 2018.

I still applied for a few different roles that stemmed from meeting other employers at the Jobs Fairs. The NTU Employability team were very helpful in choosing how to approach and communicate with each employer, and in helping me to decide which offer to accept in the end.

Does the ‘real’ NTU match what you’d imagined? How does it compare with your friend’s experience at other universities?

I think the ‘real’ NTU at least matches what my expectations were prior to studying here. One thing that stands out for me is the open-door policy for meeting up with my academics outside of allocated contact time.

In my experience all staff are approachable and happy to meet up in person. This I think is a very positive thing and it has helped me out many times. From what I hear from friends that study elsewhere this is not always the case at other universities.

Have you been on any trips with your course?

Towards the end of First Year we travelled to the Lake District for a Surveying Field Course. It was a week of very hard work, but also a thoroughly enjoyable one. Looking back, it was an invaluable experience because it greatly strengthened my surveying and setting out skills, as well as communication and teamwork skills. These skills proved to be a real asset when working on site during my Placement Year.

Have you received an award relating to your course (e.g. Young Creative Awards)? If so, tell us about your experience.  

Yes, following my First Year exam results I was presented with the ‘Outstanding First Year BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering Student’ Award. I was very proud to receive the award and felt it was a nice reward for my hard work that year. The Awards Evening was also a great networking opportunity.

What do you think makes NTU a top university?

I think besides the modern campus, accommodation, prime location within the city and sport, the University’s links to industry stand out for me. I know my course is in some ways centred around doing a placement year and from the start the University has been keen to push us towards this.

I think this is invaluable in terms of progression from education into the working world. I know this is the case for other courses at NTU too, and that this is not always the case at ‘higher ranked’ universities.

The Jobs Fairs and Employability team are very well run, which makes it easy for you to find a placement or job following graduation. Aside from this, the ‘open door policy’ for meeting up with academics for help and support is a real positive.

How would you promote NTU to potential students in one sentence?

If you want to study at an exciting, growing, innovative university that has fantastic links to industry, NTU is the place to be.

What three words would you use to describe Nottingham?

Exciting, compact and varied.

Nottingham is the UK’s best student city. Agree or disagree?

Very hard to say having not been a student anywhere else!  I think it’s a very good place to be a student; the city is set up well for it and there is a great student community.

Where would you recommend visiting in Nottingham?

I’d recommend Lace Market and Sneinton Market for nice places to eat, drink and shop, Forest Recreation Ground for sports and Wollaton Park for a walk!

Where is the best place to eat, go to a gig or buy clothes?

For eating out I’d recommend the Street Food Club and Bohn’s Best Burgers but there are a lot of other nice, smaller independent places in and around Lace Market – quite a few with a student discount too.  Fox Café is nice for a coffee or breakfast.

Rock City and Rescue Rooms are fantastic gig venues, and there’s also the Motorpoint Arena for bigger events.

Shopping-wise there’s a wide range of places; all the high street names such as Urban Outfitters and Topshop, as well as nice more independent or local shops such as The Hip Store.

Where is a good place to live as a student?

In my opinion you want to be within a 15-minute walk from the University campus. The good thing about NTU is it’s very close to the city centre, so you’re never far from anything really. I would recommend the areas around The Arboretum.

Did you find it easy to make friends at NTU?

Yes. The Freshers Events were well organised, so it was easy to meet people and get involved with University clubs and societies.

Where would you turn for support, advice, or guidance?

I would almost always turn to my friends in the first instance. Beyond that, in my experience all the academics are very approachable and supportive, along with sports coaches or society committee members.

If you had a (non-academic) problem. Who would you talk to? What would you do?

There is a Student Support Team associated with my course that are available to help with any University related issues. There is also the Student Wellbeing Centre on campus.

What’s next for you after NTU?

After I graduate next summer, I’ll be having some time off before returning to my Placement Year company full-time in September. I’ll be looking to continue to build upon my previous experience, working towards taking on more of a lead role in project engineering and management.

I will also study a Part-Time MSc on day release over two years whilst working. This will help me in working towards Chartership.

Has the Employability Team helped you plan for life beyond NTU?

Yes, I would say so. I suppose to some extent I have ended up sourcing my own placement and graduate job, however the Employability Team were very helpful in guiding me on how to approach and communicate with different employers when I was applying elsewhere. They also helped me to structure my CV.

Still need help?

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