- Department of Engineering (map)
Cambridge CB2 1PZ
- +44 (0)1223 332600
- +44 (0)1223 332662
- See also:
- Institution admissions pages, Graduate Studies Prospectus Entry.
The first impression that many people have of the Engineering Department is that it’s bustling. Around 10% of Cambridge’s students are engineers and these 1500 or so people are currently almost all squeezed into two buildings at the end of Trumpington St. Some groups are wholy or partly based elsewhere, such as the Science Park or West Cambridge, which can be quite isolated. A consequence of this for the 400 or so grads is the lack of space. There are offices in the usual places (for example halfway up staircases and in lecture theatre projection booths!). The PhD study desk is a luxury that will certainly be withdrawn after three years. There are plans for a new West Cambridge site to incorporate all physical sciences; Division B (Electrical Engineering and friends) will move to the new CAPE building there in early 2006 – whether or not the postgrads based there will get any more desk space than at Trumpington St is debatable.
However, what the Engineering Department lacks in space it makes up for in facilities, at least on the main site. Apart from free stationery, postage, local phone calls, laser printing and photocopying, there is also a free language lab, free newspapers and free tea (arguably not worth it!). Also available are large electrical and mechanical workshops with support staff and an extensive library. Computing facilities are excellent but the main system is shared with undergraduates during term time as are all the teaching labs and areas that also incorporate research equipment. Many groups have their own computers as well. In addition, the large number of undergraduates provides the facility for tuition (supervising and demonstrating) to supplement research grants.
The social hub of the department is the tea room. Sporting events and trips provide opportunities to meet other engineers. Most groups hold regular seminars which allow serious ideas to be exchanged in a friendly environment.
Academically, we host some of the top people in many fields. Sadly, many supervisors have little time to spend with students; you may be effectively supervised by a postdoc rather than the Professor who heads your group. It is far from uncommon for students to take longer than three years to complete their PhD. Supervision standards and research group atmospheres vary widely within the department. Some postgrads are well supervised, and have active groups with lots of interaction with fellow students and staff, whilst others have to fend for themselves on all fronts (admin, money, research, facilities etc).