So here goes nothing….Today I am going to take the plunge and submit my PhD application and hope for the best. I am terrified but if you don’t try you don’t get. I thought I would post the final statement so you could see how it’s changed…wish me luck!
My education in engineering originated in a desire to develop something that would have a positive impact on the world, and it’s my belief that the biggest problem the world faces today is global warming coupled with mankind’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are being depleted at an alarming rate, and without any obvious solution to a potential energy crisis in the coming years, I believe that the research undertaken by today’s PhD students will be the solutions we see tomorrow. I am passionate about Low Carbon Technologies as I believe that this is an area that currently lacks depth and that new, viable alternatives need to be found.
An example of the limitations of current alternatives would be the electric car. Developed to reduce emissions and reliance on petrol, the electric car prides itself on ‘zero emissions’. Unfortunately most electricity is produced via the burning of fossil fuels, and therefore not a lasting alternative to petrol engines. As well as this, the current power grid does not have the infrastructure to support the conversion of motorists to electric cars.
The Low Carbon Technology I’m most interested in is in fuel cells. I believe that the development of a viable fuel cell would provide an important alternative in the automotive industry and that this could later be applied to the aeronautical industry. We can already see the uses of fuel cells on space missions since the 1960’s and in the production of small UAVs. My current 4th year project has required researching the viability of using fuel cells to power a UAV capable of rapidly mapping disaster zones. In this industry in particular I believe that fuel cells are outperforming both petrol engines and batteries because of the specific requirements. I believe this shows the potential of fuel cells to revolutionise technology in a broader sense and even revolutionise the industrial landscape.
An alternative, and somewhat secondary interest, is the use of wind turbines. I currently live near a wind farm and am interested in how they will be used to reduce our carbon emissions as a country in the future. This is because I think that the adoption of wind power provides and interesting trade-off between cost, space and environmental awareness whilst also having to appease the general public. These types of trade-off particularly interest me as an engineer as I am used to having to make such studies when undertaking various design projects.
Studying a masters in Engineering has also provided me with a skill palette I believe contributes to my application. Numerous team projects, and leading my current project (Designing a 3D printed UAV powered by fuel cells), have provided me with valuable communication and organisational skills, in addition to the key analysis skills needed when conducting design trade-offs. My communication skills have also been tested by being a representative for my course for the last 3 years. In this role I have been responsible for presenting the views of my year to the Staff:Student Forum and to the Industrial Advisory Board, and was nominated for an award for my work last year. In my 3rd year I undertook an individual project looking at fluid flow within the eye, this meant that I had to be self-motivated and able to research literature in new and developing fields.
My interests in Low Carbon Technologies are deep-seated, as can be seen by my attendance at Southampton University on a Sustainable Energy Engineering Headstart course. During this week I undertook a number of classes including building a miniature fuel cell. Since that time I have a developed a passion for education and learning and have strived to further my understanding in a number of different subjects including; currently taking a programming course in addition to my final year and achieving a level 1 qualification in British Sign Language.
I believe this PhD would combine both of my passions and not only make me an expert in the Low Carbon Technology field, but put me in a position to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with the next generation.
(If there is anything you are curious about please ask- It’s good interview practice!)