The future looks bright for a University of Chester graduate whose dissertation on enhancing solar energy efficiency and wider degree work has earned an engineering and technology award.
Megan Johnstone, who studied Mechanical Engineering, received an award from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) for her first-class dissertation on an increasingly important area of research – and for outstanding efforts during her three years at the University.
She’s excited about her next steps, knowing that her degree and achievements while studying have put her on the right path to becoming an Officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers – and are contributing to global efforts to improve the environment.
Talking about her award-winning dissertation, she said: “Solar cells are a well-known technology for harvesting energy from light. Although they are effective, the ability to improve solar cells is always available, with room for improvement and efficiency gains to be made.
“My dissertation focused on improving light scattering to increase photon capture, leading to increased efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs while minimising surface damage.
“I was really proud that the project worked in practice. After many hours in the laser lab and analysing data it’s very rewarding to achieve a successful result.”
She added: “I actually didn’t know I was nominated for the award until I found out I had won, which was a massive surprise and I felt so honoured that my supervisor Simon felt that my work deserved a nomination.”
Megan explained that looking back, she’d definitely made the right choice in her course of study – and thankfully it had been an easy decision.
“I grew up in a military background, with my family working in engineering – and science has always been my strong point of interest so studying mechanical engineering was almost a given.”
She continued by outlining that she couldn’t have achieved all she had without the support of others at the University.
“Throughout my time at University, Dr Simon Hodgson has been a major help, with not only my dissertation, but also with other aspects of the course. He always guided me in the right direction when I got off track or confused, but always let me have the chance to work out the answer.
“My PAT (Personal Academic Tutor), Dr Paul Folan, was also a big help throughout the three years.”
During her degree course, Megan also undertook two placements, one in a factory that produces specialised gearboxes, where she was designing, and another in a company that produces RF (Radio Frequency) equipment, where she was creating automated codes for mechanical processes.
She really enjoyed the placements, choosing areas of particular interest.
“For new students I would suggest to always go out and look for a placement somewhere you would like to be. A placement that you don’t enjoy is no use to anyone so always aim for what you think you’ll enjoy,” she said.
But Megan’s achievements at University did not end with her academic studies, and included being part of the University rowing team for three years, competing in numerous races.
Reflecting on her University experience and offering advice to others, she added: “Never underestimate yourself. Always strive for the best and as long as you give it your all, that’s all that matters.”