Cameron, from Scotland, is based in the Edinburgh Campus studying Civil Engineering with International Studies in the in the school of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society. He travelled to the University of New Hampshire, USA for a year as part of the study abroad programme.
Why did you decide to take part in a Global Student Programme at Heriot-Watt?
I would describe myself as a driven student looking to challenge myself and extremely competitive. I was given the option to study civil engineering internationally at the University of New Hampshire which was a challenge to adapt to a completely new surrounding and work with colleagues from a different culture and technical background. I am very glad that I took this opportunity.
How did studying in the USA differ from studying in the UK?
The American education system is radically different to the one that I am used to at Heriot-Watt. There is a much larger focus on learning volumes and volumes of knowledge that you are ”spoon fed” and are assessed on weekly. I believe at Heriot-Watt there is a much greater focus on the understanding of a problem and the ‘why' rather than solving every single thing that could occur in a problem.
How did the culture differ in your exchange country?
There were definitely some cultural differences. There were always “Jumper/Sweater” or “Aluminium/Aluminum” discussions but it was surprising how little anyone knew of Scotland despite claiming to be 1/16th Scottish. I was able to study during a time when there were a lot of political campaigns and it was very interesting to see the different styles of the American campaigns and policies to the British political system.
Was there anything that you found challenging about studying in your exchange country?
Being a Civil Engineer, maths is fundamental to my job, however one of the largest challenges was adjusting to the imperial system. Instead of using metric and European building standards I was required to design to a different standard of practice and used measurements in pounds, feet, inches and slugs and as a result it did give me the benefit of understanding civil engineering on a global scale.