Sophia is an inspiring and friendly young woman. She’s a little nervous at first, but as she warms to talking about her specialism - she’s in the final year of her BSc (Hons) Product Design degree - her passion shines through.
She was attracted to the subject area and particularly the course at BU by its holistic nature. “You’re studying not only just design, but everything that makes it tick,” she enthuses. “You’re taking ideas from your mind, creating them with pen and paper, to making 3D models to then something that actually physically works. You also get to study the business elements [of the industry], so if you did want to become an entrepreneur, you’ve got the skillset to do it.”
However, Sophia reveals that Product Design wasn’t her first love - she actually spent two years at another university studying Physics, before deciding to change her path and transfer to BU. We chat about what prompted her to make the change and she explains it was the emphasis on mathematics that made her move away from Physics. “I wanted to take things and explore, experiment - I didn’t want everything to be put into numbers all the time. I admit they’re useful, but still,” she adds with a laugh.
Since coming to BU she hasn’t looked back and is particularly happy about the experience she gained from her placement year, where she worked for a small, but growing, company based in Winchester called the Plastics Development Consultancy (PDC) Limited.
“They work on a variety of things in the plastics industry, from drawing up ideas that a client might have to getting something injection moulded and manufactured to be sold on the shelves,” she says.
“It’s tied in perfectly with my degree. In my final year I’m developing my product to be manufacturable and I also have to make it in the workshop for the Festival of Design, so having all that knowledge about injection moulding and how to use plastics has really helped me with my design,” Sophia adds.
She’s excited about showcasing her work at the Festival of Design, commenting that she’s putting a lot of work into it at the moment. Sophia has also picked a rather ambitious project for her final year. She explains that she’s creating a water quality monitor for freshwater aquariums. When told that this sounds complicated, she laughs. “Well, you have different stages of proposal [for your project] so you can propose different things and then get feedback. At one of them, they told me ‘this would make a great PhD, but you can’t quite do that right now’.”
Her passion for her subject is clear, so it’s no surprise when Sophia says she’s interested in doing a Master’s in the future, adding that she’d like to focus on material science if possible. “It’s just something that really interests me; it’s scientific, but equally creative,” she explains.
“I just want to keep learning, it’s what I love doing.”
This comment also explains why she’s been learning German in her free time. She tells us that she’d like to travel after university and that Germany is high on her list of places to visit, as it will help her improve her language skills.
As well as all of the work that she’s been doing for her degree, Sophia has found time to get involved with every aspect of university life, including working as a student rep and student ambassador. “It’s been really good to get involved with the course and how the university runs, as well as show people and other potential students that this is a great place to come,” she says.
It isn’t only the university that she wants to promote though, she’s keen for people to explore Bournemouth and elsewhere in Dorset as well. “Bournemouth is a lovely place to live. I’m so fortunate to have a car in my final year but don’t let it stop you if you need to use public transport,” she says excitedly.
Must-sees for her include Corfe Castle, Old Harry Rocks near Swanage, Hengistbury Head near Christchurch and west Dorset towards Yeovil. Of course, she also encourages everyone to visit Bournemouth’s beautiful beach.
When asked what advice she’d give anyone coming to BU to study, she pauses for a moment before smiling and saying: “I’d say enjoy your time. Do things that you love, meet people, go out to see the town and do well on your course. There’s so much to do and also the Students’ Union will provide you with all sorts of opportunities if you want to take them - there’s sports, there’s music, just enjoy yourself.”