Keep London moving with a placement in Engineering


A Greenwich engineering graduate is lending his expertise to keep London’s railways moving safely with a placement at Southeastern Railways.

Alejandro Villanueva Mora, a Mechanical Engineering graduate, applied for a placement after finding out about the opportunity through the Faculty of Engineering and Science Employability Office.

When he joined Southeastern Railways, he was initially based at the depot in Slade Green, a key junction in the south-east London network served by Thameslink and Southeastern.

Among the railway projects he has worked on are underframes (the components that form the base of a railway carriage) and traction (the power systems that allow trains to move). These have been a real test of Alejandro's learning as he came to put it into practice.

"Mechanical engineering covers everything about the development of mechanical systems – whether it's machines, structures, components, devices, processes or other solutions as technology improves," he explains.

"In this role, I am applying the mathematical and materials knowledge from my degree to the design of underframes and traction units to ensure they are safe, effective, durable and cost-effective for the travelling public.

"I was interested in the position as an entry point into the UK railway industry," he says.

Prove yourself with a placement

The placement has taught Alejandro that mechanical engineers are always discovering new things.

"The best part was the learning opportunity as well as the networking," he says. "My long-term goal is to become a Chartered Engineer via the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Southeastern has made this much more achievable."

Deborah Sims, Senior Lecturer in Safety Engineering at the University of Greenwich, visited Alejandro at work on the railways.

"I was really impressed with how quickly he had adjusted to life in the high-pressure technical world of rail engineering. His line manager was very pleased with his professionalism and commitment to the projects and tasks he was given, industrial placements offer students a superb opportunity to put into practice the theory they learn during their degree. For engineering students, they are an invaluable way of proving to employers that they have the necessary aptitude and mindset to be an engineer."

"We offer a wide range of engineering industrial placements at the University of Greenwich and I would strongly encourage students to explore these opportunities with our Employability Office and take advantage of them."

Mechanical Engineering at the University of Greenwich recorded a 100% Student Satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey for 2020.

Students can study mechanical engineering full-time, part-time, or through a sandwich course which includes a placement year.

We also offer two four-year courses. One is an integrated award that includes a master's degree in the final year (known as an MEng). The other is an extended degree with a foundation year, which suits anyone that will need additional support before they embark on degree-level study.

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