Alumni Profile: Ryan Marks

Our next Alumni Profile features Ryan Marks who is now a Research Associate at Cardiff University!

Hi Ryan! Why did you choose to study at Cardiff University and what did you study?

“I selected Cardiff for many reasons. I knew that I wanted to study Mechanical Engineering and Cardiff ranked highly for the subject in the UK… I knew at the time that I wanted to move far enough away to have independence from my parents while also being close enough to travel home for a weekend if I wanted to. The city of Cardiff itself was also a big draw for me. Coming from a rural area, Cardiff offered a lot with it’s bars, nightclubs, sports and music venues. Once, I arrived in Cardiff I knew that I had made the right choice.”

What’s your favourite / most memorable memory of your time as a Cardiff student?

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“That’s a really tough question to answer because there have been so many and so many things that I was involved with during my time at Cardiff.

There are two memories that stick out during my time at Cardiff. The first was with the University Rifle club… I met some really like-minded people who I am still in touch with now… It was a real buzz to represent Cardiff.

The second memorable moment has to be with the University’s Formula Student team; Cardiff Racing. The team are based at the School of Engineering… I got heavily involved with the team in the later years of my degree and led the chassis design and development in my final year. Taking that car to Silverstone where it received much praise and we achieved one of the best results for the university at the time against some of the big European universities was an amazing experience. Not only did I learn a lot from the real application of engineering theory but I met some of my closest friends during the experience. ”

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
“As soon as I graduated I started my Ph.D at Cardiff in developing damage detection systems for aircraft structures with Airbus. I think in many ways that is testament to how much I enjoyed my time at Cardiff as I didn’t leave after graduation!” “By the end of the year I was co-supervising undergraduate projects using the equipment.”

Tell us about your current role…
“I think that there is a bit of a theme here – I am a Research Associate at Cardiff University working in the structural performance group at Cardiff University. I conduct a range of different research tasks surrounding structural performance with a focus on airspace and defence applications. This role is a really interesting role as I continue to develop professionally and expand my research career. It’s difficult to define a regular day as some days I may be testing in our lab, making composite components, analysing test data, writing journal papers, presenting work to stake holders or even a bit of everything! I enjoy the variety in the work as no two days are the same. It means that I come to work everyday to face a new problem to solve.”

How has your Cardiff University education contributed to your success?
“The support that I have received (and continue to receive) at Cardiff has been second to none. I think that the industrial links that Cardiff has made my education relevant while also being engaging. I have had the opportunity to learn from Professors that have worked for the likes of Formula one teams, Rolls-Royce and even NASA. That knowledge and experience made the study easier to understand as well as interesting. I think that it’s fair to say that engineering degrees are not easy regardless of where you study however the education at Cardiff encouraged me to work hard which in turn enable me to develop as an engineer. Cardiff really honed my skills which gave me the ability to go on to win awards and prizes for my work.”

What advice would you give to your past self when you were a student?
“If I could tell myself anything it would be to get involved with Formula Student earlier on. I saw the benefits I gained in the later stages of my degree and it was only then that I wish that I had spent more time doing things with the car. ”

What advice do you have for current students?
“Simple. Work hard, play hard. I would encourage all students to work hard at their studies and do their best. Get involved and ask the awkward, difficult questions. Read around your subjects and don’t just learn to pass the exam. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn interesting subjects from world leaders so don’t squander it.

That said, match the time that you put into your studies with time out doing the things that you enjoy. Go and try something new, weather its a new sport or eating food with friends from other parts of the world. There’s so much that Cardiff has to offer so go and explore it all. Get that balance right and you’ll come out with a top degree with a load of first-class memories.”

Can you describe Cardiff University in 5 words?
“Fantastic, friendly, exciting, engaging, innovative.”

What is your lasting impression of Cardiff University?
“My lasting impression is that Cardiff University is a University that is friendly and down-to-Earth. It’s a place that people debate and talk about really interesting subjects. It’s a place that I like and I enjoyed my time as a student and continue to enjoy it as a member of staff.”

Thanks Ryan for telling us about your career and Cardiff experience, good luck with your research! 

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