Engineering is about solving problems: about designing processes and making products to improve the quality of human life. The aim of the Engineering course at Cambridge is to provide you with all the analytical, design and computing skills that underpin modern engineering practice, while encouraging the creativity and problem-solving skills that are so important to a good engineer.
Number of students
We typically admit 12 to 14 undergraduates per year.
An important feature of the Cambridge engineering course is the broad syllabus in the first two years. You study all disciplines of engineering including mechanical, electrical and civil, as well as mathematics. This has two significant advantages: if you are not sure what area of engineering to specialise in, the first two years give you an opportunity to learn much more about the subject; and if you do know what areas interest you, the broad course provides an excellent foundation for participating in large or small multidisciplinary engineering projects once you graduate and enter the profession.
In years three and four you specialise to a greater or lesser extent. There are many modules to choose from. A few students each year choose to switch to the Manufacturing Engineering course or the Management Studies course. There is also the option of switching to the Chemical Engineering course after the first year of Engineering.
Practical work is an important part of all four years of the Engineering course. The new Dyson Centre in the Engineering Department provides excellent facilities for project work and for extracurricular engineering activity, either individually or with a group of other students. For example, Fitz engineers have been involved in the Formula Student, Solar Car and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle activities.
The benefits of studying Engineering at Fitzwilliam College
Engineering is one of the larger subjects in Fitzwilliam, normally admitting about 12 to 14 students to study Engineering each year, although if the quality of applications is good it can admit more. The College is mainly responsible for small-group teaching (supervisions) in the first two years, for monitoring and supporting your progress through all four years of the course, and for providing extracurricular activities to complement and enhance your learning. Fitzwilliam has a large number of Fellows and Bye-Fellows in Engineering to support you during your time in the College.
Unusually among the colleges, Fitzwilliam has one Director of Studies (DoS) for all four years of the Engineering course. This means that they get to know you very well, from the time that you apply to the time that you graduate, and ensures that you get the best possible support throughout your time in the College. The DoS is responsible for overseeing your education, and for meeting you at the start and end of each term to review progress.
Supervisions play a vital role in your learning. In the first and second years you will typically have two or three supervisions each week during term time. A supervision usually involves two (sometimes three) students meeting with a supervisor for an hour to discuss a particular part of the course. The supervisor is usually an Engineering Fellow or Bye-Fellow of the College. The Director of Studies and your supervisors recognise that the transition from school to university can take some getting used to. They are very experienced at offering supportive advice and guidance. They also organise progress tests at the beginning of January in your first and second years to give you quantitative feedback on your progress.
The College has an Engineering Society that organises an annual dinner for Engineering undergraduates, and other events to foster interaction within and between year groups in the College. There are also several substantial funds available in the College to support Engineering.
Fitzwilliam is a short walk from a large part of the Engineering Department on the West Site.
Our standard conditional offer for this subject is usually A*A*A at A-level or 40-42 points overall and 7, 7, 6 at Higher Level in IB. We may modify offers to take account of individual circumstances.
It is essential to have a good mathematical background and it is usual for Fitzwilliam to specify that the A* grades should be in Maths and Physics. The preferred third subject is Further Maths, but others such as Chemistry, Computing, Electronics, Design Technology are also acceptable. A fourth A-level or STEP is not usually specified as part of a conditional offer.
Experience of industry in the year between school and university is very valuable when this can be arranged. Fitzwilliam is very happy to accommodate students wishing to take a gap year in industry.
The admissions process
All applicants are required to sit the pre-interview written assessment for Engineering. More information about the assessment and other entry requirements can be found on the University website. It is important to note that there is no pass/fail mark for the pre-interview written assessment; the results are used in combination with all the other information provided with your application.
Interviews are held in December. There are two interviews, each approximately 30 minutes long. Both interviews are technical in nature but are intended to be friendly and informal. There will usually be two Fellows or Bye-Fellows of the College in each interview. Before each interview you will be given some technical questions to think about. You will then discuss these questions and others with the interviewers. The aim is to establish your potential to make progress in the Engineering course. In many ways the interviews are similar to supervisions: the interviewers will find out what you know and understand about a topic and then help you to extend and apply your understanding to new and unfamiliar problems. A good way of preparing for the interview is to attempt the questions given at i-want-to-study-engineering.org.
Every applicant is assessed as an individual. The most important criteria are enthusiasm, dedication and potential. In deciding whether to make an offer of admission we consider: your existing results; personal and educational background; interests and motivation; school reference and predicted grades; results of the pre-interview written assessment; and performance in interview (if invited).
Director of Studies
Dr Jonathan Cullen (Michaelmas and Lent Terms)
Dr David Cole (Easter Term)
Research interests: vehicle dynamics, human-machine interaction.