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Up for cambridge

  1. Nov 19, 2004 #1
    I'm currently preparing for my Cambridge interview (in approximately 3 weeks). I am from Sweden, which I don't know if it will be beneficial or whatever, doesn't matter.
    I've read up on many interview scenarios adn suggestions and it seems like I should prepare, not for questions, but increase my knowledge when it comes to engineering. I am pretty good when it comes to maths/physics even though I will undoubtedly recite my courses.
    What I haven't done at all, even though I'm sure I want to become an engineer, is work/read with/about engineering. So I would like some suggestions on good litterature and new innovations that are interesting.
    I have not chosen my field yet (goes nicely with General Engineering) so I can't specify more than this sry =(
    Any good sites which cover innovations, any news stories covering engineering would be nice.
    Also what is an engineer exactly, what do they do?
    I'd say they are leaders for construction teams (for whatever goal). They make blueprints and so on and conduct projects.
    If any of you have been to a similar interview some advice there would also be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance! (as we say in Sweden)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2004 #2


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    Oooo, good question, although I'm fairly confident it'll be moved pretty swiftly...!

    I don't think being from Sweden will affect your application either way, my girlfriend is currently studying at Cambridge and I'd say there's roughly the same proportion of foreign students to home students as at any other UK university, and your English Language skills seem more than adequate, so you should have no problems there.

    If they ask you any technical questions, they're more likely to be pure maths based than anything else, - you're going to uni to learn about engineering so if you're maths skills are up to scratch the interview should be fine in that respect.

    I'd definitely swot up on some recent/ongoing engineering projects, all the engineering magazines (and New Scientist, and even this forum) are up to date with this kind of stuff, and they'll almost certainly want to check that you have an active interest in the profession. As I recall you only specialise in Engineering at Cambridge towards the end of your degree (anyone?) so I wouldn't worry about them asking you what you want to specialise in, but I know that the first few years have quite a lot of electronic/computer based content; where I had projects on designing little mechanical cars, my Cambridge contemporaries had equivalent projects of designing robot programs. (Of course, they cover the other disciplines too, but this is how they seem to teach the recent innovation type stuff.)

    It's fairly easy to see which hot topics to read up on, - nanotechnology, alternative energy, that kind of thing, but it might not hurt to develop an opinion on things like lean manufacturing (I *ALWAYS* get asked about that at any kind of interview!), and interviewing academics almost always like you to have well-considered opinions on general current affairs, - part of the reasons for interviewing is to make sure that they are recruiting socially aware students, as well as academically brilliant ones.

    I do some work in recruitment of undergraduate engineering students (although not at Cambridge so I can't pull any strings that way!) and the applicants who always stick out (and get offers) are the ones who ask questions. ASK QUESTIONS! Ask about the course, the accomodation, the student life, everything! If your interview invitation says it's for a formal interview, make sure you're dressed to match. If it's a non-formal interview (doubtful) then trousers and a nice shirt won't hurt. Dress really should not make a difference, but sadly it does. (The upshot of this is that a Cantab degree really should not make a difference, but it does!)

    Finally, best of luck with your Cam application, (which college?), and you'd better start looking forward to things like matriculations, formal hall, getting 'deaned', having to wear a cape lots, and not being allowed to walk on the grass.
  4. Nov 19, 2004 #3
    I look forward to all those things, I like being kept in place.
    College is Girton (through open) but it seems to fit me well.
    It is informal as everyones seem to be for later years, unsure.
    Heh dressing matters, I'll give a second thought to my shabby basketball overall =/
    My first interviewer has done a PhD in nanotechnology which I know nothing about, so yeah I guess I'll have to read some of that =)
    Specialisation is in the third year I think and yeah the first years seem to be electronically oriented, hooray :P

    Thanks for your reply brewnog, really helpful.
    I want more!
  5. Nov 19, 2004 #4


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    Yeah he's probably quite likely to ask you about nanotechnology, just make sure you know a few examples of what it's used for, and show an interest in it (make up an intelligent question about it!) and he'll probably like you :-)

    I don't know I can really help you with much more, though there's bound to be some Cantabrians on this board who could help you out...

    (By the way, someone's just told me that Sheffield absolutely stuffed Girton at University Challenge the other day, that'll teach 'em!)
  6. Nov 20, 2004 #5
    nah i meant more from the board not you in particular ;)
    What's the University Challenge? Sport event?
  7. Nov 20, 2004 #6


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    Nahh, it's a quiz show on TV :-)
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