Monika Szczyrba

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

MEng Civil Engineering

Monika Szczyrba

What did you study before university?

Mathematics, Physics, IT, English, Geography and Polish

How did you decide which degree course to take?

I was good at mathematics but I really enjoyed the environmental side of geography. I wanted to give mathematics a real application in a way that would be useful for communities. I searched through university websites and found a perfect connection in civil engineering! It combines mathematics and IT skills with the hands on experience of designing and constructing. Most of all, civil engineers have a massive impact on the world we live in – they're responsible for all the structures surrounding us, as well as water, energy and transport infrastructure which are crucial for people to live. My course gives me the skills to design and build protections against natural disasters and rebuild communities destroyed by tsunamis, earthquakes or floods – it equips me with all the tools I'll need to make a real impact!

Which part of your course have you enjoyed most so far?

I think my most favourite part of the course has been the Introduction to Sustainable Civil Engineering module from the first term. During these classes we had plenty of open discussions between students and you could learn so much from other people’s views. This course allowed us to gain a better understanding of all the sustainability aspects that have to be considered in every design, such as energy, water, drainage, pollution, thermal comfort etc. At the end we had to design our own building showcasing all the sustainability aspects and maximising its energy efficiency and write a professional report about it. This was great fun and an achievement after only a few months of studying! 

What has been the highlight so far of your time at university?

My university highlight has definitely been participating in the Student Masterchef organised by the Sheffield on a Plate project. For five weeks I had a chance to learn how to cook sustainably from one of the UK's top chefs. Every week we cooked something different and could take all of the food home which provided me with plenty of free dinners. At the end, we had a Masterchef competition against Sheffield Hallam University and were judged by a Michelin-starred chef. We had to serve the food to more than 50 people and everything was recorded by local newspapers and TV! A once in a lifetime opportunity and totally free! How did I get there? I just read my university emails (unlike many other students!) so I didn’t miss that chance! The University of Sheffield has plenty on offer – just keep an eye on the news! 

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to do some relief work after graduation and travel to South America. After that, I am planning to join an international civil engineering design company to work within the water infrastructure sector or possibly geotechnics. I want to work and travel, and being a civil engineer gives you plenty of opportunities to do that! I can't decide yet which area of civil engineering is the most fascinating for me but I still have three years to decide!

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