Annabel Downing

Why did you decide to study Architectural Engineering at the University of Leeds?

I wanted to be an Architect from a very young age, however as I progressed through school I started debating whether it was the right path for me. I am a very creative person however Maths was my favourite subject, and I was really good at it, I didn’t want to waste my talent. When it came to applying to University at Sixth Form I came across this degree in the Leeds prospectus. It seemed like the ideal course mixing elements of architecture and mathematics.

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University and why?

I have enjoyed every moment of being at university so far however the best aspect on my course is we get to participate in a lot of laboratory work. The School of Civil Engineering at Leeds has great facilities which has helped me understand lecture content. My favourite so far has been the concrete laboratory in Second year. In our tutor groups we got to design, mix and test concrete. It allowed me to fully comprehend how adding different elements to the concrete can impact its strength, durability and workability, all things we had discussed in detail in our lectures.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far

The University offers a variety of exciting and interesting projects however my favourite has been the second year Architecture project. We were put in groups and had to design a single storey café for on campus. We had to research the site and other café’s in Leeds and present it in the form of a report, sketch book, presentation boards and a model for our client. Using different mediums to present the work helped us structure our findings and ensuring the client knew more about the designed café.

Tell us about your role in the Women’s Engineering Society at Leeds

I am the Founder and President of the new Women’s Engineering Society (WES) at Leeds. Last semester CivSoc and ShockSoc held an Engineering social for the females of the faculty. I attended the social and realised that Engineering at Leeds as a high level of female students. I was already a member of the national WES and had seen that other Universities had a student society. I researched into what it entailed and discussed the idea with my peers and we all agreed that this would be a great opportunity for females studying Engineering at Leeds. In April this year I approached Sophie Day and Farah Khoury and asked them to help set up the society with help from Professor Cath Noakes, and that is how the Society began.

As president of the Society I organise and oversee the running of the Society in accordance with the mission of WES, the policies and procedure of WES and the society’s constitution by attending every committee meeting. As the Society is in its first year I had to produce various documents such as the constitution and the first year plan and will also produce an annual report to reflect what we have achieved as a society.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ultimate goal is to become a chartered engineer. My family originate from the South of Spain, once I am chartered I want to move back to Spain and help with the development of the southern coast.

What Experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

The Faculty of engineering really help with your future career, with their help I have secured an industrial placement with Network Rail starting in September. I hope that this placement will allow me to put what I have learnt the past two years into practice and hopefully lead me to opportunities once I graduate.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

My advice is to get stuck in with everything that the Faculty can offer you. Sign up to the departmental societies as they not only provide you with a social experience but also will help with your employability in the future. Do not be afraid to do things that are out of your comfort zone.