Josh De Wit, 23, who graduates with a BSc with a placement year in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sussex’s 2019 winter graduation, won awards for a revolutionary fast-charging electric car battery concept.
The world needs to work towards being sustainable and green, but for this to occur everyone needs to work together and be willing to adapt to new ideas and, fundamentally, to support the need for innovation. That way we can have a future that is still exciting and appealing. I chose mechanical engineering in order to help bring greater change in this area.
I was drawn to mechanical engineering because it is one of — if not the broadest of — the engineering degrees and means I have the scope to go into virtually any industry if need be. Engineering in general is always in demand, and there is always a range of exciting areas and projects going on in the industry globally. More specifically, with the kind of work I’m interested in and involved with, everything is moving away from fossil fuels and towards electrification. I feel it is our job is to demonstrate that electric vehicles are better than their conventional-powered counterparts.
My decision seemed to pay off during my degree when I won an Autocar-Courland Next Generation award for my graphene battery concept. This would dramatically reduce charging times for electric vehicles whilst simultaneously eradicating both the packaging and weight constraints of current battery technology, and yet is made from non-toxic and sustainable materials. I was surprised to win it, particularly as I was working on this concept in my spare time around the clock during my industrial placement year. I remember one evening I was sat in my car in a carpark in the middle of Oxford town centre, and working on my laptop whilst milking the Oxford University’s wifi network (God bless Eduroam!).
Back in 2014, I was choosing where to go to university. It was a hard choice, but I knew from my research that Sussex was a great university — both for mechanical engineering and research itself. Added to this was the thought that the University was in the countryside, near the coast and within 10 minutes of Brighton itself — it had a lot to offer! I also loved the fact it was a campus university, which meant I got to know everyone better than I would have if I had gone to a university that is spread across a city.
I was slightly apprehensive during my university search, but later found out that I may be eligible for some funding to help me out whilst I was studying. I was the first of my family to go to university so this was amazing to hear. It has meant that I’ve had the chance to study what I love here at Sussex. I feel I have met some amazing people during my time at Sussex, who have helped me grow, develop and improve as a person.
My time at Sussex has already been hugely rewarding. Before even gaining my degree I managed to receive two job offers without applying and have currently been working for just over three months within an automotive consultancy. I feel so motivated by my time on the course and feel focused about what I can achieve in the future.
My immediate aim now is to get some knowledge and experience under my belt and then aim to create my own company that builds upon my concept. I am currently working on a separate business on the side, which will sell a multitude of sustainable products. I feel really excited about the future.
Interview by Tom Walters