Ever since an early age, I have been intrigued by the inner workings of anything from atoms to engines. My career goal to be an Engineer was cemented in Year 9 when I helped my uncle (employed by the Sussex Council) with a design proposal for a bridge to be built connecting two main roads to divert traffic from a junction where the two roads later met. Using 3D-modelling software ProDesktop, I designed several bridges then airbrushed them onto the intended site using Photoshop. Impressed with my work, he used them in his proposal. Following that exposure, I studied two Design & Technology courses at GCSE and on entering A-level, sought to gain more first-hand knowledge about Engineering by attending a range of events: an Engineering Summer School (CITY University: 1 week), a Maths Summer School (LSE : 1 week) and a Physics Open Event (Cambridge, Corpus Christi: 2 days). During these events, I primarily learnt what is involved in studying Engineering related subjects at a higher level. At Cambridge, time was spent discussing relativity and estimation, while at LSE, we tackled challenging work on roots & coefficients, and summing finite series. Since that time, I have been selected for LSE’s weekly maths sessions to enhance my ability still further. I found the CITY Summer School particularly useful in reinforcing my research about the disciplines that exist in Engineering. Of these, Aeronautics appeals to me the most. I have always had an interest in planes (courtesy of Microsoft Flight Simulator) and looking at what the study of Aeronautics involves (e.g., Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics), I was sold.
Having done research and attended Summer Schools and Open Days, my intention to study Engineering at university has been finalised, combining as it does the two subjects I love the most, Maths and Physics. In Engineering you have to communicate a solution to a problem using Maths after having analysed it from as many different angles as possible. This is exactly what I love most about Physics; having to approach a situation with a somewhat abstract way of thinking, to view the problem from many possible angles, and then attempting to come up with a solution. In Maths, I love being faced with a problem and having to solve it in a systematic way using existing knowledge. Furthermore, to expand my mathematical ability, I am taking AS-level Further Maths, run by an external network (MEI ). This course had greatly developed my independent study skills as I only receive 9 lessons per unit alongside the online resources available to me. To further extend these skills, I am planning to study independently for a stand-alone Physics module (AQA  Unit 8, Turning Points in Physics). Sitting this module will be a personal challenge but I am confident I will do well, as I enjoy extra-curricular reading on topics such as Special Relativity and Quantum Phenomena.
Believe it or not, I do have a life outside my studies. Firstly, I have a job. I chose to start working at age 16 mainly because I wanted to be more independent. In my catering job, I have not only gained independence but also excellent communication skills due to continuously meeting and interacting with the public (I now have the patience of a saint!). My membership of the school council for 4 years has taught me the values of respecting opinions and I have enjoyed the responsibility of representing others. In my spare time, I enjoy music, drawing, graphical work, and I attend the gym and play hockey at least once a week. Furthermore, I have a keen interest in languages. My mother tongue is actually Shona and I have made it a personal goal to learn how to speak French in my free time. So far, I have achieved a grade C in AS-level French Oral Exam (AQA).
In conclusion, I feel that university is a great opportunity for me to take the next step in furthering myself academically, whilst also benefiting from the social and cultural aspects offered.
Author: Tafara Estelle Makuni
Written: October 2007
Edited: June 2021