Getrude Nkomo

MEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering (2018)

Graduate Emissions Testing Specialist, Johnson Matthey, Royston

A profile picture of Gertrude Nkomo, graduate of the University of Bradford
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city? What did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

I applied to the University of Bradford due to a combination of reasons. I wanted somewhere relatively close to Leeds so I could be close to home as I wasn’t ready to move out. I was unable to attend any Open Days but when I contacted the university they connected me to the Head of the Engineering Department who sorted out for me to be able to come in for a tour and talk about the course to answer any questions I had. That level of genuine care and investment made me realised that if I come here I would have the kind of support I would need to develop my career.

My first impression of the university was that it was very homely and very chilled out, relaxed atmosphere, and very comfortable. The lecturers were friendly and there were a lot of societies to join and take part in, which made making friends and meeting new people easy. I loved the city, still do, everything was so affordable and within walking distance; as a student, it’s the most practical place to live!

Why did you choose that particular course?  What did you like and enjoy most about your course?

I enjoyed Mathematics and Physics, as well as Product Design at A levels. While choosing a degree there was always pressure to follow Mathematics and Physics down a technical route or follow Product Design down a creative route. After looking through many prospectus from various universities, I found the Mechanical Engineering course at University of Bradford gave me the perfect balance to be able to keep all my interests.

I enjoyed the structure of the course, every year there was a big Design Group Project, particularly the Interdisciplinary Project in the final year. There was a good balance between coursework and exam-based work as well as industry-based case studies.

What tips would you give to prospective students about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself?

Every year counts; modules, classes, tests, everything! It counts… I can’t stress this enough! There is a myth that spreads through first year students that first year doesn’t count towards your degree. While this is true to a certain extent, your first year grades are used when applying for summer and industrial placements, predicting what your expected degree classification will be. Therefore, best believe everything counts!

Go to the Personal Academic Tutor sessions, they aren’t mandatory but are beneficial in the long-term. My Personal Academic Tutor helped me adapt to university life, answered all my academic questions and connected me with lecturers who could help me out with my modules. He was my supervisor for my dissertation in the end, provided me with a summer placement and supported me with getting to conferences and getting publications. He really helped me develop my career!

Every year counts; modules, classes, tests, everything! It counts… I can’t stress this enough! There is a myth that spreads through first year students that first year doesn’t count towards your degree. While this is true to a certain extent, your first year grades are used when applying for summer and industrial placements, predicting what your expected degree classification will be. Therefore, best believe everything counts!
How did Career and Employability Services support you during your time at University?

Career and Employability Services really supported me a lot in university since first year. Every time I went for a visit to meet the Career Consultants, they reviewed my CV and cover letters and I would always get responses from applications. They would always do practice interviews, assessment centre services and follow up conversations after interviews to know how to better next time.  After graduation, I still use the services and they have been very helpful with how to further develop in my career even when employed.

Tell us about your current job including brief responsibilities of what you will be doing?

I work with customer quality and the manufacturing plant at Johnson Matthey setting specifications for products and providing support for local engineers to meet customer demands. My day-to-day activities involve data processing, operating rigs, end of life catalyst testing and tracking overall performance. This can all be easily summed up as project management and implementing Six Sigma.

What advice would you give to current students wishing to enter this type of career?
  • Start applying for placements and practicing for interviews early so when it’s time to get a job it won’t be such a shock to the system!
  • Volunteer a lot to boost your CV to compensate for a lack of industrial experience.
  • Become a member of your professional institute, i.e. IMechE, even volunteer for the Youth Panel and attended their events whenever possible.
  • Initiate work outside of university related to academics, as this will open up opportunities to meet leaders in various industries and assist with looking for a job.