UCL News


7 questions with Douglas Stridsberg

20 January 2016

This week we put seven questions to Douglas Stridsberg, a UCL Mechanical Engineering MEng student.

Douglas Stridsberg

Why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I originally chose to study mechanical engineering because I loved to design, create and innovate things in general. I had an old car at the time, which I loved to tinker with, and I had a great passion for aircraft alongside this. It wasn't until I started studying the subject that I realised how useful engineering is for so much more than just building things that drive or fly. 

The concepts we are taught and, more subtly, the ways in which we are taught to plan and perform our work are invaluable in pretty much any challenging employment where hard work is necessary to achieve success.

This is partly why I've decided to pursue a career within finance, specifically investment banking. It's a fast-paced, challenging and satisfying environment that suits my style of thinking and working perfectly.

But I'm wary of making any plans further than two years down the line - you never know what might happen or what opportunities may present themselves!

What is the most interesting thing you've done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

Hands down, the most interesting thing I've worked on and been involved with has been the UCL Hydrone Team. It's a racing team with the aim of building a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered car that is as fuel efficient as possible and, hence, we're on the cutting edge of what is possible to achieve.

We use the very best and most modern techniques to manufacture the parts for the car, as well as advanced computer simulations to test our designs before they go on the track. 

This year, we're competing in the Shell Eco Marathon, held here in London at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between 30 June and 3 July, where hundreds of teams from all over the world will come together and race their cars in order to crown the most fuel-efficient, hydrogen-powered car.

We're incredibly excited to be a part of the race and have been working hard on promoting our car and team on campus and around London (you may have seen us dotted around campus already!).

As engineers, we tend to spend most of our time working behind screens or on paper - so to be able to finally take what we've learned and put it into practice is amazing! Not only that, but we're building something that has never been built before and coming up with new and innovative ways to do it.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL? 

Goodge Street has some wonderful golden nuggets in terms of food. If you fancy coffee, Store Street has one or two amazing coffee places that are really worth your time going to! Other than that, there's almost always a few pop-up coffee stands either to the east or west of campus.

After learning to love coffee a year ago or so, I've been pilgriming to these various pop-ups on a daily basis. If you're still visiting the big-brand places then you're definitely missing out!

In terms of study spaces and such, the UCL Computer Science Building on Malet Place offers some terrific and even scenic spaces on floor two and above! I recommend going there during off-peak hours to just relax, eat or study, as they can be quite busy places during lunch hours.

My favourite place to go, however, has always been the Church of Christ the King (the church on Byng Place). If I'm not mistaken, they still do a free, lunchtime organ service on the first or second Monday of every month. That's well worth going to if you love organ music or, if you're looking to escape for a brief moment, you can just go and have a sit in the main crypt.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

The big streets are all exciting and well worth a visit if you're into that kind of thing, but it's in the smaller alleys and streets just off the bigger streets where you find the real gems. High on the list of best things to do in London would be the numerous restaurants, pubs and other places that lay just off major streets.

Other than that, London is a pretty average city, in my opinion. I've lived and spent time in other major cities around the world and I can't say there's anything London offers in particular that other cities don't - congestion, crowds and noise - and come Christmas, it lacks proximity to anything that can be deemed an acceptable mountain for skiing, unlike many American, European and Asian cities. 

What London has, however, is a rich historic offering, especially inside the Square Mile. I'd recommend going there if history tickles your fancy. If you don't like history, just stay home and brew a cup of tea - tea is good here!

If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

Having been at the university for nearly four years now, I've certainly seen my fair share of good and bad changes! As always, it's easier to point out what's wrong than what is going well, so I think it's important to point out that a lot of terrific changes have happened over the course of these few years. 

However, the one issue that remains and, unfortunately, has gotten worse, is the availability of space in general. Lecture rooms are crowded, study spaces become squeezed and popular campus passages look like Black Friday gatherings between lectures.

If I were Provost for a day, I would take a long hard look at the strategy and thinking behind intake numbers and ensure that the mistakes leading up to a situation like the one we are facing now are prevented from happening ever again.

Who inspires you and why?

Good leaders come in all sizes and shapes, but all share the ability to inspire and motivate people to work together towards a common goal. I am inspired when I see leaders exhibiting competency, clarity, common sense and coherence. Anyone who's ever taken on the task of leading or coordinating groups of people knows how easy it sounds but how difficult it is in reality.

I also hugely admire people who can teach well. Teaching is, to me, the ultimate and most difficult form of communication - not only do you have to get your point across but you have to ensure it 'sticks' in students' minds all the way until the exam and beyond.

Having done tutoring in the past, I know what a difficult thing this is to do effectively, and I've only tutored individuals one at a time - imagine lecturing to a class of hundreds! Wow! 

Thankfully, I am surrounded by a handful of such outstanding lecturers every week, and this is is something I am truly grateful for.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I listen to house and dance music almost religiously, but I cannot stand nightclubs. Also, I've skied since around the time I learnt to walk. I love skiing. You know what? Maybe I should just move somewhere colder. I love huskies too - I could probably go sledding in Canada and be pretty content with life.