Image: Matthew Day Professional Engineering MSc

Which course did you study?

Professional Engineering MSc

Why did you choose this course?

I wanted to continue learning, but in particular, the course was recognised by IMechE and helps you work towards CEng (chartered Engineering status).

What attracted you to online learning?

Flexibility of the course. I wasn’t tied to specific lecture times, which meant that I could study at times that suited me, including on business trips abroad. This made the modules far easier to digest and allowed me to fit them around my erratic working times. I don’t think that I could have achieved the same results if I was committed to specific lectures or on-campus study, because I may have struggled to plan my working responsibilities around the learning content.

Why did you choose the University of Derby Online Learning?

I chose the University of Derby Online Learning as the course was recognised by the Engineering Council and IMechE, which is the Engineering association that I plan to apply for Chartered status (CEng) through. This was a very important consideration for me and I probably wouldn’t have chosen the course if it wasn’t recognised. As it was designed around the Engineering Council, the modules and content aligned really well with the UK-Spec for Engineering accreditation, which is something that I didn’t really find with other courses I looked at.

It was also one of only a few recognised Engineering courses that was taught solely online, which meant that the distance or where I was in the World didn’t matter. I would still get the same level of input from the tutors and achieve the qualification.

What were your goals and aspirations when starting your course? Have they changed during study?

My ultimate goal was to be a better Engineering leader. I progressed my own Engineering knowledge in a work-based environment by pushing for projects proactively that I may not have been suitable for without the online learning support. This led to a great deal of visibility and positive recognition, whilst expanding my network. I have also gained enough experience to apply for Chartered Engineer status (CEng), something that I can now do following the completion of the course.

How did you balance your study around professional/personal commitments?

It was difficult at times. You have to be much more self-driven and proactive when studying online. I tended to read literature in the evenings and write reports on the weekends. It allowed me to be with my Fiancé (she’s also studying for a degree, full-time, which allowed a certain level of empathy), on week days whilst still reading for my degree. I generally allocated mornings or evenings on weekends, which meant that I could be a little more social in the daytime. It was more difficult around report submissions, but it was mainly about discipline; the workload is always manageable if you plan your time well.

How would you describe your online learning experience at Derby? What did you find particularly beneficial?

Support is there if required or requested, but the content isn’t forced or pushed, which helps manage the pressure of working at the same time. I was very impressed to receive feedback on a draft report on Easter Day! It felt like if you were working, the tutors were too.

What was your most memorable moment during your time at Derby?

I have three:

1. Getting my first assignment back after not really knowing what to expect. I got a distinction and this really gave me the drive to push harder and harder as the modules progressed. The feedback from the tutor was motivating, but focussed.

2. Getting assignment feedback on Easter Sunday! I was blown away by the support and commitment from the lecturers; there wasn’t really a time where I felt that I wasn’t getting the support that I needed, or a time where questions weren’t answered promptly.

3. Completing the VIVA for my final dissertation. I think that I was probably over thinking it (it’s rare that I feel nervous before presenting something), but the supervisors put me at ease and it felt like a real achievement after completing the final presentation slide; probably the sudden realisation that I was all but qualified to Masters Level. It was a really good feeling.

How has your qualification helped your career?

The projects that I have completed at a working level have expanded my network and given me more visibility, which has supported promotions and perhaps some people’s perceptions of me in a positive way.

The administrative side of the Masters qualification hasn’t had a particularly large impact in terms of my current job role (the MSc title), but it has already helped me to sow a few seeds in other (German based) areas of the business where higher education is very important for recognition. Therefore, I expect it to have a huge impact over the coming years! This should certainly lead to some future career progression.

A lot of the modules complimented my previous work based learning but also helped me to develop the ideas into a higher level of knowledge and understanding, by pushing me to challenge and research the methods and ultimately write about them. I’ve definitely become more analytical.

Can you describe your experience with just one word?

Flexible!

What would you say to anyone considering an online course at Derby?

Three years of further studying feels quite daunting at the application stage, but once you’ve started, the time really flies by! Studying online has been a great way of achieving a higher level of academia, without taking any time out of work. If you can pick a suitable work based project, it almost doesn’t feel like studying! That’s not to say that it isn’t stressful or time consuming – it is! However the flexibility allows you the option to steer your own experience.