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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

Elodie Grenen

BEng (Hons) Yacht Design and Production
Graduated 2020

Portrait image of Elodie Grenen

Why did you choose Solent? 

After visiting several universities which offered marine engineering courses I chose Solent University as it was the only university in the UK which offered a yacht design course with a highly practical aspect to it. This was a huge appeal to me, being someone who learns more through the practical application of taught skills. On visiting the University it was clear that they had extremely good resources for students, and the staff were absolutely lovely and clearly dedicated to supporting students.

What first got you interested in engineering?

As a kid I was always playing with Lego and Lego Technic when my friends would be playing with more stereotypical toys for young girls. I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a very rural area where I spent my days building dens and racetracks for our bikes and go-karts – even from a young age I was doing engineering related stuff! At ten I was introduced to sailing and it has been a passion and hobby ever since. I then went onto study more ‘engineering’-orientated subjects for my A-levels which eventually helped me to gain a place at Solent. I have worked in chandleries designing mooring setups for sailing and motor vessels, so problem solving and design have been incorporated into my personal life, hobbies, summer jobs and education from a young age.

What was the best thing about your course?

The facilities are amazing, with FRP labs, and a CAD suite specifically for use by yacht design students. Plus every lecturer on the course has been absolutely fantastic and really supportive. They are constantly adapting their teaching to make sure we get the most out of our lectures, and during Covid they have been phenomenal in making sure that all of our online content has been engaging and easy to follow.

How have your studies helped you prepare for a career in the industry?

I got practice in designing vessels and developing an understanding of classification society rules which actually proved invaluable for me when I had to go for an interview with Babcock for their graduate naval architect scheme. We also had several assignments where we had to do an interview style presentation, which has also proved to be extremely useful when applying for jobs.

The facilities are amazing, with FRP labs, and a CAD suite specifically for use by yacht design students. Plus every lecturer on the course has been absolutely fantastic and really supportive.

What did you learn or study which really made you go "wow"?

I have developed 3D modelling skills which have been awesome to learn and definitely very cool! I have also loved the resistance and propulsion aspect of our course which helps predict how much power a vessel needs to achieve design speeds, along with what size propellers they should have – along with many other things!

What opportunities were there to get practical experience?

In first year we had to build model yachts to race at the end of the year – this was a good opportunity to design a boat to a set classification and also build it, even if it was on a model scale! It was a fun and practical application of the skills learnt during our first year at university and brought everyone on the course closer together. We also had an assignment to design a 5-metre RIB for pleasure or commercial use, as a result of a company showing interest in the yacht design courses at Solent and the students’ potential.

What did you like best about being a Solent student?

The best thing about Solent – apart from the course – was the people. The staff were always so supportive and wanted to see you achieve your best work, and the students were lovely and friendly – having such a large ratio of international students has meant I have made connections, not just nationwide, but worldwide. The social life was also good and there are loads of sports clubs at the University which you are able to join!

What did you take away from your time at Solent?

Friends, connections, new opportunities. Since my time at Solent, I feel I have become a more confident young person who has been able to push themselves to be recognised in the employment field to successfully gain a job. I have made lots of new connections with people from all sorts of different cultures and walks of life – on the whole, I feel my time at Solent has been incredibly enriching.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Up until recently, I have predominantly worked summer jobs – these were still marine-based as they were in two chandleries. I have since been able to secure a place working for Babcock on their graduate naval architect scheme. Qualifications are obviously an important part of bagging a successful job, however I have learnt that you do not need to be perfect when you turn up to work because as a student, you simply won’t have the experience of older staff. It’s more important to an employer that you show up and prove that you are willing to learn and do the work, than to turn up with 100 percent and a first-class degree.

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in your industry?

If you have a passion for engineering, follow it. I strongly believe there is no point in choosing a career path that doesn’t capture your full interest as you’ll struggle to unlock your full potential. Women are finding places in the engineering field more easily these days and I really urge any young girls or sixth-formers to pursue their interests and push to be the next women in the industry. Times are changing, which is fantastic – if you go in with passion and a strong work ethic, there should be no reason for any employer to doubt your potential. Engineering at Solent is for you if you love the practical application of theoretical study, you endeavour to achieve your absolute best, you want to make friends from a range of international countries, you want to receive an extremely high standard of education...and if you want to have a uni course experience that doesn’t feel challenging because you are doing a course you love!