Insider’s guide to a Masters in Mechanical Engineering

Meet Saiham, an Acoustic Engineer/Consultant, who graduated from UNSW Engineering in October 2016

Saiham SirajWhy did you choose to undertake a postgraduate degree?
By 2013, I had obtained my undergraduate degree and was working for a textile company in Bangladesh. However at the back of my mind I knew I needed to go abroad to pursue higher studies so as to advance my knowledge in my professional field. I chose to undertake a postgraduate degree at UNSW to be exposed to new technologies, cultures and an entirely different academic system where I could truly test myself. My time as a postgraduate student at UNSW was certainly a great challenge.

How did you first find out about UNSW and the Postgraduate Coursework program offered?
Some of my cousins and extended family members had previously studied at various Australian universities. Their stories and experiences inspired and encouraged me to look seriously at postgraduate study in Australia. UNSW being a Go8 university was a big selling point, and my cousins telling me such great things about UNSW meant my mind was quickly made up. The array of engineering courses offered, the fantastic research projects undertaken as well as the extra-curricular activities available on campus made my decision very easy.

What was the most important factor in choosing to study your Engineering PGC at UNSW?
The reputation of the educational institution was a very important factor. I knew from previous experience in job hunting that many companies place a lot of value on the reputation of the institution, as opposed to focusing exclusively on an individual’s experience and skills. UNSW has produced excellent professionals in numerous fields with an impressive consistency over many years.

What are the strengths and highlights of your degree?
The courses offered are diverse, challenging and very interesting. You can choose between several courses and follow your interests towards a certain skill set which will in turn allow you to specialise in a particular area of engineering. 

Were there any faculty staff (or anyone else during your time at UNSW) who had a significant impact on your studies or the way you would like to pursue your career?
Associate Professor Nicole Kessissoglou had a great impact on my academic and professional career. Under Nicole’s supervision I completed my thesis in acoustics, and following this I secured a job in an acoustics consultancy firm as an acoustic engineer. Nicole has been a guide and a true inspiration for me and I’m truly grateful for that.

How did your time at UNSW assist you with your career opportunities and development?
The course “Fundamentals of Acoustics and Noise Control” covered the theoretical background as well as industrial practices, and also exposed me to the measurement and environmental considerations involved in acoustics. My thesis project titled “Sonic crystal noise barriers” required me to have an understanding of the industrial implementation of acoustics and noise control. The theoretical and practical knowledge acquired from both the course and thesis helped me to gain a superior understanding of the acoustic engineering industry. It wasn’t surprising that my first job interview seemed like a revision of what I was taught at UNSW and I was thrilled to be employed as a graduate acoustic engineer.

What are the most exciting and rewarding professional projects you have worked on so far?
My first field job for Acoustic Studio Pty Ltd was to perform Airborne and Impact Sound Insulation Tests for the walls, floors and ceilings of three rooms in the Robert Webster Building, UNSW Kensington campus. It was exciting being able to both work and study at UNSW at the same time.
Over the last 12 months I have worked in many exciting projects with a diverse range of clients, including tertiary educational providers, public hospitals as well as private companies.  

Do you have hints/tips for prospective students looking for a Postgraduate Coursework degree?
Choosing and planning beforehand the courses that interest you is very important as some courses may not be available every semester. You need  to make the most of your time spent at university, as being a postgraduate student means you have additional time constraints such as career and family commitments.

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