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Shadowing experience leads to University insights

08 March 2018

Part IV Computer Systems Engineering student Cameron McCarthy had the unique opportunity to shadow the Dean of Engineering, Professor Nic Smith.

“It was quite humbling catching a bus to Newmarket with the Dean of Engineering… he definitely attends a lot of meetings, including with international visitors, but also deals with people at an individual level quite often – it was quite striking to see all the different parts of Universities he is involved with and the key figures that students definitely know about.”

Cameron was one of the students who spent a day experiencing Professor Smith’s schedule as part of our Dean’s Leadership Programme (DLP). His involvement began with a Summer Research Scholarship on embedded computer vision systems that extended to include a leadership component. Being selected for the DLP meant that he has been attending workshops and presentations with industry leaders.

“What struck me as particularly interesting is Nic’s place as the figurehead of Engineering, even if what he does is very much at a decision-making, level and being responsible for stuff. He definitely surrounds himself with the right people to get things done, which is really quite cool – to have a team you can rely on that much!”

The importance of soft skills, according to Cameron, was an extremely valuable learning experience that he gained both from the day and the DLP. “Nic said he originally came from a research background, and he spent a lot of time at Oxford focusing on in-depth research. When he was given an opportunity to manage, he leapt at the chance to do something different. There’s clearly an administrative side that ensures the existence of Engineering and University, which I found quite impressive. Also, seeing our lectures as Heads of Departments or just not teaching was cool – you learn a lot about how people do put on many different hats regardless of where they work.”

While he is uncertain about his long-term plans, Cameron will spend the rest of the year finishing his degree while pursuing research positions throughout the University. His academic successes however, has not stopped him from appreciating his DLP experience. “They genuinely seem to care about building us up as students, and it’s good to be recognised for potential as opposed to being great at academia or sports! I really look forward to seeing where the entire DLP group ends up in ten years, and I hope this becomes a more popular and prestigious programme, especially in industry.”


About the Dean’s Leadership Programme

The DLP is a one-semester initiative introduced in 2016 to encourage Part II and III Engineering students with leadership potential to develop skills beyond their technical knowledge, so that they can succeed as professional engineers. Read more about the programme.