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Sarah-Jane Tonks

BEng Mechanical Engineering

Sarah-Jane Tonks
  • Graduated with first class honours
  • Secured graduate role at Cummins Turbo Technology
  • Won the Benjamin Jowett Memorial Scholarship
  • Entered as a foundation year student

Sarah secured a graduate position at Cummins Turbo Technologies in Huddersfield after completing an industrial work placement at Nissan.

For me it was a good point in the right direction that I could achieve more than a basic pass, that I could become an engineer.

I was very lucky - I went on an open day trip to Nissan in Milton Keynes and from that I secured an interview for a placement which I got, and that placement has led to me starting my career.

I was very lucky to have been introduced to one of Cummins' recruitment officers who works quite a lot as a technical partner with the University, doing engine testing for turbo chargers. I managed to blag myself an interview.

Industrial placement is very important because it allows you to understand where your knowledge and experience so far as a student can fit inside a wider framework - a global company in my case at Nissan - and it gives you a chance to understand the business influences to an engineering problem. Sometimes the most elegant engineering solution won't work in a competitive market, and there's nothing more competitive than the automotive market."

"My experience at Nissan helped me understand where my knowledge and experience as a student fits into a global company.

"Sometimes the most elegant engineering solutions won't work in a competitive market, and there's nothing more competitive than the automotive industry right now.

"Those things give you an appreciation of those sorts of problems and how to solve them."

Final-year Mechanical Engineering student Sarah-Jane Tonks was selected for an industrial placement at the Nissan Technical Centre Europe, in Milton Keynes. She worked as a project management engineer for the Nissan Qashqai – the fastest selling model in the history of Nissan Europe. Sarah-Jane was awarded a £500 Jowett Scholarship due to her excellent academic results. “I was given projects with real timeframes and expected to deliver the same level of results as everyone else. I learnt a lot about communication in a global environment and it gave me an insight into how engineering works in industry. I organised the testing of Around View Monitor, a parking assist system, which gives the driver a bird’s-eye view of the car when parking. I saw it right the way through to production. Now around 300 Qashqai cars roll off the production line each day with this system.”

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