Alejandro is an intermediate mechanical engineer for building services mechanical engineers, T Dunwoody & Partners. His first degree was mechanical engineering, which he completed in 1993. He then undertook an MSc in energy systems and the environment at Strathclyde University, which he finished in 2005.
"Since I graduated, I have worked in the oil industry. I wanted to continue in the energy sector but wanted a change from fossil fuels to renewables. It was not easy because they are two different worlds but I thought it would make an excellent complement to my academic background to have a glance of the other side and get a bigger picture. The fact that an MSc can be done in one year was also very attractive, and of course the prestige of a well established UK University.
"I applied for a British Council Scholarship in my home country. After a pre-selection stage in which more than 200 people participated, I was chosen as a possible candidate and was invited for an interview. Some time later I heard the good news that I had been chosen and was one of the eleven selected that year. The scholarship paid for part of the tuition fees, the other part was covered by the University. I also got some living expenses from the scholarship.
"During the first three months the taught course meant a daily trip to the university for lessons and time at the library researching or studying. After that initial period came a group task in which you get more control in terms of time management but at the same time more responsibility. The library and the MSc common room became my new office. The final period is pretty much a self study phase in which you prepare your final dissertation. But as a Masters student you are supposed to deliver a good piece of research showing in-depth knowledge of a particular topic you have selected. I spent most of the time researching, writing and re-writing the dissertation. In the end, it was worth it because I got my degree in return, with a distinction.
"At the beginning there was a bit of a struggle with the taught part, maybe because I had graduated so many years ago. But after adjusting to a daily study routine things got much better. I think that organising your time and adjusting yourself to the new experience are key factor. It has to be enjoyable too. Of course, stress levels can go up because of a particular situation and there seems never to be enough time to finish some assignments or catch up with studies, but there is also a chance to enjoy. I believe a Masters is a continuation of your professional life and as such I would recommend anyone to have some working experience before considering doing something like this."