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Jacob Obry

What made you choose to study at MidKent College?

 MidKent is my local college, but I was looking at multiple colleges to potentially attend, MidKent being among them. I found other colleges to be too impersonal, not feeling like they put the students first, and lacking in communication.

It was at this point that I was contacted by the transitions team at MidKent, who made it very clear how they would support me in my learning, which clearly displayed to me the level of care they have towards their students.

The transitions team invited me to see the engineering department, where I got to meet some of the lecturers, who further cemented the level of care and respect they have for their students.

It was this level of care and attention that made the choice clear, that MidKent would be where I would study.

I have been shown this level of care and attention throughout my time at MidKent, and have not been disappointed in the support and opportunities I have kindly been given.

Why Engineering? 

The decision to study Engineering was influenced by many factors.

I have always had a very analytical and curious mind, wondering how the world around me was built. I found myself taking things apart to look at how they worked, and enjoyed learning, specifically about how the world and the things we use every day are developed. It was this love of learning that persuaded me to pursue an education, and eventually a career, in a STEM field, and given that Engineering is the field that builds and develops the products we use, and indeed builds the world around us, the choice of which STEM field was clear.

Another factor that further influenced my choice in studying engineering is my love of 3D Printing and Engineering Design. Since getting the opportunity to work with 3D printers in school, I have been fascinated with the technology and all its applications; So much so, in fact, that a year after designing and printing my first models, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase my own 3D printer, and began working freelance designing and 3D printing different things for people, something I continue to this day.

The final major factor that persuaded my choice of study is not so much about me, as it is the current job market. At the time of my decision, and indeed at the time of writing, there is a major demand for engineers in the workforce, meaning that engineers are extremely valuable. Given that other fields I considered are extremely competitive, having a job market that was less competitive and allowed me to capitalize on the demand for engineers was a logical choice.

Did you find College different from school? If so, how?

For context, I am autistic and came from an SEN Secondary School, of which there was only a maximum of 120 students when I left. Comparatively the college has around 6000 students enrolled at the time of writing, which needless to say is quite an increase, although I believe I have adapted quite well. Even with the increase in numbers, I find the atmosphere very similar to that of my secondary school, that is to say, very relaxed and relatively positive, but with clear boundaries and expectations in place, which I appreciate.

Another difference I have noticed is the variety in people that attend the college, geographically, as people come from all over the country to attend MidKent, as well as personality-wise. I consider MidKent to be a hodgepodge of different peoples and communities, and have found the college to truly be a very inclusive environment.

How have you found your tutors at College?

My tutors have been absolutely exemplary! They are some of the most supportive staff I have encountered in my time in education, they go above and beyond to help any students that want or need it.

 I know the engineering department only hires from industry, meaning that the tutors know what they teaching, as opposed to just reading out of a book, and have likely used it in practice themselves; This makes the tutors very knowledgeable, and even if they do not know something, such as the answer to a question you may ask, they will openly admit they don’t know the answer and will work with you to find it, which is a quality I admire and respect.

How about the facilities you get to learn in and the equipment you get to use?

The engineering facilities offered at MidKent are phenomenal, with a fully outfitted workshop (including lathes, milling machines, pillar drills, and an extensive range of hand tools), well-maintained welding bays, a well-stocked electrical lab, and a brilliant software package, all of which I have made good use of within my time at the college.

The Engineering department also has a 3D Printer that I have graciously been given access to, even though it’s not a part of any course currently offered, which has furthered my specific studies.

Outside of the Engineering department, the college has two libraries that are kept relatively quiet, which allows for easier learning for those that prefer to study in quieter environments, such as myself.

What kinds of things have you covered on your course and what have you enjoyed most?  

Within MidKent College, we do not differentiate between the different branches of Engineering, such as mechanical, electrical, electronic, etc. It is all covered within the engineering course and we've covered:

Engineering Principles (which covers maths) Mechanical Principles, Physics, and Electrical Principles.
Health and Safety, which covers the different legislations and codes that engineers and employers are bound by, and the reasons for these measures, Engineering Design, which covers the development of different products and projects, from design to manufacturing, Fabrication, which is practical based and sees us building different things using predominantly hand tools.

The subject that I have to call my favourite would be Engineering Design, as it allows us to see how the things we use every day are planned and designed for, and shows all the planning that goes into making something that may seem simple. It is also a subject that allows me to have some creative freedom, which is something I enjoy and value.

Please tell us a bit more about any support you’ve received while at College.

I am an autistic student, so the majority of my support has been focused around facilitating learning with my needs, some of the ways that I have been supported include:

Being allowed to leave the classroom for 5-10 minute breaks, especially if the class is getting loud and/or I am getting overwhelmed. This allows me time to ground myself and refocus.
Being allowed to listen to music through headphones in the classroom, which is especially helpful if the class is being loud, as it allows me to focus, and not get overwhelmed by the level of noise.
Being allowed to use my laptop to do classwork, which I find to be easier and faster than writing everything by hand, and means that my classwork is more legible.
Being allowed to do my exams in a separate room, which helps me focus as I have very sensitive hearing.

The college also helped me to request special considerations in my exams, due to a family emergency meaning I was unable to fully revise properly.

The college has also supported me in finding work experience, which is needed to complete my course.

These are just some of the countless ways the college has supported me in my learning.

Which universities have you applied to and for what courses?

I have applied for Product Design Engineering courses at two different universities. This subject will allow me to combine my love of engineering with my love of design and making products for people. In my opinion, this will allow me a great deal of flexibility, and allow me to be a more creative engineer, than if I were to go into a different course.

My first choice university that I have applied for is Brunel University London, who have an industry leading design department, they are accredited with the Institute of Engineering Designers, and the support they offer seems brilliant for me specifically. As it is located within London, it also allows for a great deal of opportunities for me within the city, while still being relatively close to home, and I have always dreamed of studying in London.

I have also applied for Canterbury Christ Church University as an insurance choice, as they are relatively local to me, and I have heard good things about the support they offer students.

What are you hoping to do once you’ve completed your degree?

Once I complete my degree, I hope to go on to study a PhD either in Engineering or Design, after that, I hope to be able to work in the development of consumer goods, as this would allow me to create products that would make peoples lives easier, or at the very least make them happier, as helping people is ultimately my mission in life. Ideally while working, I hope to be able to travel internationally.