Case study

Sorria is a

Mechanical Engineering graduate Sorria Douglas is getting used to firsts. She achieved a first-class honours degree with us and she is now a design engineer with Nottingham-based L.A.C. Conveyors & Automation, the first female engineer at the company.

Foundations of knowledge

Sorria’s enthusiasm for engineering is what drives her. But she says, without the course at Derby, she would not have had the foundations in engineering knowledge to perform her current role as a design engineer.

She says the further she delved into her degree, she learned a variety of disciplines and skills that help her in her job position today.

Modules such as Engineering Design and Workshop, Manufacturing and Materials, Advanced Design and Modelling have all equipped her with the knowledge of how components are manufactured, appropriate materials according to function and how to use CAE (computer-aided engineering) software such AutoCAD and Solidworks, which she uses daily in her current role.

How we blew her away

Sorria was fascinated by the prospect of a career in mechanical engineering. She studied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at college and gained great foundation knowledge of each subject in preparation for the next step.

She then contacted different universities to review each of their Mechanical Engineering course syllabuses. “I was so blown away by the University of Derby’s that I enrolled in their four-year course in 2014. I saw the University had good industry links as Derby has a lot of world-renowned engineering companies,” she says.

Sorria Douglas at work
Sorria Douglas is now a design engineer at LAC Conveyors and Automation

Preparation for industry

Sorria truly enjoyed the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering course at the University of Derby, particularly due to the problem-solving elements and how she was constantly challenged and stimulated to unearth the best possible solution.

Her mechanical engineering degree helped her to develop extensive knowledge around the discipline. This included more concentrated topics such as thermodynamics, thermo-fluids and contemporary machine design.

During her final year, she specialised in 3D design and research and development. Using the university’s computer suite to carry computer simulations such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and the laboratories for wind-tunnel testing.

She says: “Workshop equipment such as lathe, milling and welding helped me to understand how components are manufactured from raw material and which machining process was best suited to machine the component. Lab experiments were conducted throughout the course to help build practical experience while applying the theoretical knowledge learned in lectures.”

Sorria Douglas working with computer aided design software

A competitive market

It’s no secret that the graduate market can be competitive so Sorria began to search for a suitable role upon graduating and initially secured a planning position at a local company.

After a year of being at the company, a job opportunity arose for a junior mechanical design engineer position at L.A.C. Conveyors & Automation – her current role. She was delighted to find a position where she could work on different projects and learn from an existing pool of engineers.

Within her role, she designs manufacturing lines with integrated robotics for many sectors such as car manufacturing (automation industry) to mail sorting lines (distribution/logistics industry). She says that, although she is the only female engineer at the company so far, she feels comfortable in the post.

mechanical engineering students, wind tunnel

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