Since engineering will probably not be a subject you’ve studied before, it’s difficult to know exactly how to structure your personal statement. However, much of what you have already done will link to engineering. There are also plenty of things you can do to show an interest in the subject, and which you will be able to use to shape and strengthen your personal statement.
Examples of interests in maths and physical sciences
Engineering is closely related to maths, physics and the physical aspects of chemistry and biology. Therefore, any extra action you have taken to improve your understanding of these subjects will make you an attractive candidate for an engineering degree. For example, you may have participated in maths or science competitions, or worked on extra projects in those areas. For ideas, we’ve got comprehensive guides to impressing with your maths, physics and chemistry personal statements.
Oxford and Cambridge both highly value industrial experience as part of their engineering courses. Therefore, if you have an opportunity to try your hand at any work experience in any field of engineering, this will hugely enhance your personal statement. Even if it’s just a couple of days, engaging with the profession in a practical way will make your application stand out.
Reading around engineering and engaging with the subject
Self-motivated study and independent engagement with the subject will always attract admissions tutors. There are many options for exploring engineering without studying it at school. For example:
- Read books about the subject – see our Engineering suggested reading. It can be great to mention books on your personal statement, but remember to include some analysis or criticism of the sections you found particularly stimulating.
- Solving problems centred on engineering.
- The ‘nrich-maths’ website has a comprehensive bank of engineering style problems. They have varying degrees of difficulty, so you can move from easy to hard. They’re also linked to other areas of engineering and maths, which you may wish to explore.
- i-want-to-study-engineering.org has a collection of engineering problems specifically designed for university applicants. They have a section of adapted problems from A-Level Maths and Physics that link to engineering, and some example questions from Engineering interviews to work through.
Both these websites offer a variety of useful problems to try your hand at in preparation for university. A good way to mention your problem solving practice on your personal statement would be to link it into problem solving at school. For example:
“I really enjoyed the more involved and complex problem solving that came with the later parts of the A-Level Maths course, particularly in the mechanics modules. So I started regularly solving and enjoying the problems offered on the nrich website that focus on engineering, and relating mechanics to practical situations.”
Engineering has a broad scope; it is mapping out the face of the future. You could try to grasp some of the larger challenges faced by engineers, to show your appreciation of engineering as a vast and diverse discipline. Some examples of large and important problems in the 21st century, which you could investigate and discuss in your personal statement, are:
- Environmental issues, and designing future systems to ensure sustainability.
- Identifying viable energy resources for the future.
- Safeguarding our personal data from cyber attacks.
- Feeding the growing population.
It’s crucial that your personal statement is exactly that – personal. The admissions tutors want an idea of what motivates you to want to study an Engineering degree. If your personal statement is full of concrete, specific examples of how you’ve explored Engineering and related disciplines, you’ll be in a good position.
For more inspiration, take a look at our example Engineering personal statement.