Biomedical Engineering student Matthew talks about his degree

Check out what Matthew Howes, a final year student, has to say about studying Biomedical Engineering at Kent

What attracted you to study at Kent?

Initially, my course – there’s only a handful of universities that offer it. Then I saw Kent was a campus university and I really liked the idea of that. I knew the facilities were great here and that they’re trying to improve them every year. They spend a lot of money in the engineering and bioscience facilities. I thought it was a good fit for me.

How’s your course going?

It’s good and I’m getting everything I want out of it.  I’ve enjoyed the first two years a lot. This year, the course is challenging and they’re asking a lot, but that’s the way I like it; I wouldn’t want it any other way, really, because this is an important year for me.  I’m trying to make sure I get everything out of it, asking the lecturers as much as I can, to make sure I’m soaking up as much as I can before I finish.

Tell us more about your lecturers and the teaching.

The lecturers are obviously very well trained in their field of study, but they’re also very good at explaining it when it comes to teaching.  For instance, with some of the more difficult topics – say, the digital processing modules where it’s very abstract maths – they explain in a very relatable way using different approaches. They take account of the fact that students here have different backgrounds and have been taught in different ways prior to university.

Obviously, university’s not just about the course, it’s an experience where you’re growing as an individual as well. The School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) is a nice, small community, and the seminar leaders and lecturers really look after you. I’ve never had to wait more than a day to have a thorough meeting with any lecturer.

Which modules have you most enjoyed?

The human physiology modules have been very good – I’ve  just had a lecture on biomaterials,  where they’re talking about cutting-edge science that’s just been released. I love hearing about the latest technologies and how they can be applied. Some of the robotics modules have been interesting, too. We made an EMG prosthetic hand last year as a group project and that was very exciting; working as a group of three and finally seeing the end product work so well was very rewarding. Medical physics is a good module as well. I’m interested in working with medical devices in the future, hopefully, and I’ve enjoyed finding out about the science and physics engineering that’s behind them.

How would you describe the facilities for your course?

Very good, high-tech facilities, especially bioscience facilities. They’ve got everything you need, and more. You’ve also got opportunities to explore and experiment yourself on your own projects. I find that university isn’t necessarily just about getting through the course, it’s about learning for yourself, learning your craft, and if you’re given the freedom to do that, you benefit from learning how you work, how to get the projects done and working out what you like doing.

The engineering facilities are also very good.  For example, yesterday we were working with CT scanner software; the industry needs people who know how to use the software so it’s valuable knowledge to have.

Tell us about your fellow students – was it easy to get to know people on your course?

Definitely, yes, it’s a small cohort – I think there were ten of us in our first year.  We came from a wide range of backgrounds, so it was very exciting to get to know each other and meet people from the UAE, Spain, Turkey … We all help each other out a lot.

You mentioned that Kent being a campus university was important in your decision to come here – did it meet your expectations?

Yes.  It’s almost a homely atmosphere here.  In my first year I lived in Eliot College and made some good friends there, who are my housemates now. Moving out of your home to a new city can be a daunting thing, but being on a campus within its own boundaries is very reassuring. It’s surrounded by countryside, close to Canterbury city centre and near the beach so you can take yourself off if you need to get out of the university bubble. You can hire bikes here and cycle to the beach at Whitstable along the Crab and Winkle Way – it’s lovely on a summer’s day. Canterbury is a great place to explore, as well as having lots of good restaurants on the main street.

Are you involved in any clubs or societies?

I remember I joined the Psychedelic Society in first year, which was interesting, to just learn a bit about myself and the whole idea of developing yourself. Through that, I heard about a meet-up group on mindfulness and started going to that, and a few of us set up the Mindfulness Society, with help from Kent Union. We have a teacher who runs meditation sessions every week and it’s a good outlet from work. We’re starting to develop the social side now too; we’ve got some debates planned and a trip to a retreat in Kent, staying in yurts.  We’ve hope we’ve set solid foundations for a society that everyone can enjoy.

Apart from that, I joined a lacrosse team in the second year and this year I joined the football team. I definitely recommend joining a sports team if you can, even if you’ve never tried it before.  I’d never played lacrosse before, but I love it, and it just adds a whole new dimension to university.

Have you used any of the University’s careers and employability services?

Yes, especially this year, because I’m obviously gearing towards finding a job. The careers officer I’ve worked with has been indispensable, helping me prepare for interviews and assessment centres as well as giving advice on my CV and cover letters. Summing up everything you’ve done at university for a CV is hard so it’s useful to have help from a professional.

What are you hoping to do, career-wise?

I’d like to work in medical devices, maybe prosthetic design. Luckily for me, I live near Cambridge, and there’s a lot of biotech, bioengineering around there.  I want to learn as much as I can as quick as I can. I’d be happy to move abroad, too – there’s a lot of biotech in California.

Any advice you would give somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Spend as much time as can getting to know the university in advance, find out how the course is taught, visit the campus if you can, chat to students, ask questions on social media. Then, once you’re here, try new things, join societies, and get to know your housemates. It’s a time to develop yourself as well as studying your course.