Student Profiles

Archie Reid
Interviewed in his second year

Archie ReidI come from an engineering family. My Dad has a workshop making various components from valve plugs to security screen rollers. He started off as an engineer at sea, and I followed in his footsteps joining the Merchant Navy at 18. I was in the Merchant Navy for 6 years, working on P&O cruises for 4 years and then working on oil tankers for World Wide Shipping for 2 years. It was a great experience. I got to see a wide variety of different machines, but I only learnt how to fix them; not to explore the theory behind how they worked. I decided to do a degree in Engineering and went for the best one available.

I had done A Levels at 18 which included gaining a B in Physics. I decided to study Maths and Further Maths A Levels while working on the oil tanker. Studying while working was very tough, so I took a gamble: I quit my job and enrolled in a college and got an A in both subjects.

My practical experience of engineering has helped me with problem solving in the practical coursework and given me an insight into how the theory is applied bringing the subject to life. Being a bit older and nominally more mature means I am more focussed on my studies.

One of the big advantages of Cambridge for me is the supervision system, because you have someone who will sit down and explain anything you are struggling with. The supervisor will also push you further in the subjects you find easier. This has been particularly helpful to me as a mature student. There is also a very good mix of students here which has made it easy to fit in.

Various courses interest me for next year but I am particularly drawn towards the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) programme as I would like to set up my own company some day.

There is more to life in Cambridge than Engineering and, as a mature student, I have had the opportunity to be a member of my College’s Middle Common Room with the graduate students, which gives me a chance to mix with people with a wide variety of academic interests.

In my first year I continued doing Judo and represented the University in the Varsity match, winning my half blue. I am on the Staff-Student Joint Committee (SSJC) which has been a good way to meet people across the Department and to have an influence on its running. I am also a member of the Engineering Design Club working on projects in my spare time.

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