Salman Alfarisi from Malaysia always had a passion for physics and maths, specifically on how they apply to the real world. He decided to pursue this with a master’s studies at one of the world’s top universities: Imperial College London. With no specific specialisation in mind yet, he took a chance on mechanical engineering as it covers a wide scope and would keep his options open for jobs.
Below we speak to Alfarisi about why he chose mechanical engineering, how he got to experiment with a Volkswagen and his future plans:
Why did you choose to study mechanical engineering at Imperial College London?
I decided to study mechanical engineering at Imperial College London because of the quality learning experience. I have the chance to learn from one of the best researchers in the industry and push myself to the next level. Although I do get discouraging comments from some of my teachers and friends back home when I made the decision to study in the UK, I will stick to my plan and believe in my motto: “whatever doesn’t kill you builds you.” It’s also one of the top 10 unis in the world and I want to challenge myself.
Do you think it would have made a difference if you studied mechanical engineering at a local institution?
Yes, I think it would have made a difference. Mainly because I would not get the opportunity to attend lectures by prominent people in the industry, network with people from different backgrounds and open my mind to a different way of thinking. I am not saying that studying at a local institution is bad, but I enjoy broadening my perspective and trying out new living experiences in a land with a completely different culture than where I am from.
What has been your most memorable class so far?
My most memorable class as I study mechanical engineering is thermodynamics. In my first year I learnt about engines and did some practical experiments with a Volkswagen to study it further. The lecturer Professor Martinez Botas is very well-known in the industry and I love how passionate and energetic he always is.
Do you have any fond memories with teachers at Imperial that has stood out for you?
I did, with one of the PhD students that was my tutor for my stress analysis class. I really enjoyed having conversations about his travelling experiences and other things. He made the class feel lovely, and even brought us some snacks on our last day.
What are the practical learning elements in mechanical engineering?
I learned about practical manufacturing methods which I have applied in fixing stuff at home. Additionally, I learned about how cars work and am able to apply my knowledge in my day-to-day life when I’m driving. All my lecturers have supported me by showing real-life examples for most of the theories they teach.
What are your academic goals in mechanical engineering?
I hope to graduate with first-class honours for my MEng Mechanical Engineering. I already have gained many skills like project management, efficient team communication and delivering documents to professional standards among others. Not to forget the leadership skills that I have built by taking up positions during group projects and joining extra-curricular activities.
What do you plan to do after graduating? Walk us through your future goals.
I don’t have further plans in my studies except to do an MBA later on after I work in this industry for a few years. I plan to go back to Malaysia and serve the company that sponsored my studies — PETRONAS — the national oil and gas company of my home country. Hopefully I can join the offshore engineering team and apply all the knowledge I gained at uni.
What advice do you have for international students looking to study in the UK?
I would say go for it and aim to get into a top uni. I am not saying it will be easy, but it will be very worth all your time and effort building yourself up from one of the best institutions in the world. There is also a lot of opportunity to travel around Europe, the Middle East, Africa and so on because flights from Europe are relatively cheap. Travelling will open your mind and give you that broadened perspective. Don’t just go to study, go out and explore the world!