Case study

Mechanical engineer — Louis Vallance

Louis Vallance studied MSc Advanced Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield and is now a technical specialist for Dassault Systèmes

Why did you choose this institution and course?

After studying BEng Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield, continuing my education there felt like a logical, natural continuation of my positive experience. What’s more, the Masters programme was among the best in the country.

How did the programme prepare you for employment?

Modules such as fracture mechanics and experimental stress analysis were directly relevant to my desired career, giving me a head start when entering full-time work.

Since my Masters thesis was inspired by industry, having access to university facilities and specialist equipment was also very important.

What industry links did the programme have?

Dassault Systèmes sponsored my Masters, making them my primary industrial link. I organised meetings between my mentor and supervisors, with the management of the weekly agenda giving me autonomy, while improving my decision-making skills.

My supervisors acted as engineering consultants and encouraged me to explore my own objectives.

What does your job involve?

The company specialises in product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions. This consists of computer-aided engineering software tools that enable the analyst to conceptualise, design, simulate and optimise engineering components and workflows.

Working as a technical specialist is a continuous learning experience, with the knowledge that I gained from university serving as a foundation for continuous learning.

What are your plans for the future?

There are several directions that I’m considering. I need around ten years of experience in my current line of work to advance along a technical track. I can then choose whether to move into a more senior technical role, or into management. Alternatively, I may undertake PhD study.

What advice would you give to students looking to break into this career?

Focus on the big picture. Don’t worry about mastering one specific skill, but ensure that you possess several well-rounded skills. You’ll have time to specialise once you find your niche. My favourite undergraduate subject was electronic control system design, yet my speciality today is metal fatigue analysis.

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