What are the Cambridge Manufacturing Engineering Tripos and How do I Apply?

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Considering applying for the Cambridge Manufacturing Engineering course but unsure on what it involves and how to apply? Do not worry! This article contains all the information you need to assess whether the course is right for you and how you can apply.

Cambridge Manufacturing Engineering Tripos
Many candidates are unsure about the application process of Manufacturing Engineering at Cambridge, but this article is here to help!

What is Manufacturing Engineering at Cambridge?

The Manufacturing Engineering course at Cambridge is a unique type of course at Cambridge: you cannot apply to it through UCAS after secondary school. Instead, you can only transfer to it after completing Part I of Chemical Engineering, Engineering at Cambridge, or similar science-related degrees.

Cambridge Manufacturing
The course is designed to give students a thorough grounding in manufacturing technology and management

According to Cambridge University, the course aims to give students experience in engineering and business whilst always focusing on the human aspects of industry and developing leadership and people skills.

The course prepares students to be leaders of business and technology firms. It provides a solid grounding in management and engineering technologies, together with a range of other important skills such as product design, communication and presentation skills and business management skills.

How do I apply for the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos at Cambridge?

The two-year Manufacturing Engineering tripos is open to students studying Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or any other science-based degree at Cambridge.

Students wishing to apply should do so in late May or Early June, and must fill out an application form here

Selection is an interview, a reference from the Director of Studies, and your academic record. 

The course is open to applicants from all colleges, with approximately 40 places available each year.

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What are tutors looking for in my Manufacturing Engineering application?

The course requires students to apply complex engineering principles in a business context. As such, tutors are looking for students with enthusiasm and drive, leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as a real interest in manufacturing engineering.

Tutors will look for students with a strong academic record in their studies at Cambridge, with most candidates achieving a grade of around 65%.

Whilst having a strong background in STEM is important, it is also important to show why you want to study Manufacturing Engineering specifically – why you are interested in combining engineering with business and management skills, for example, and why this would benefit your future career.

One important and often overlooked aspect is your Tutor or Director of Studies reference, also used to assess applications. 

Past interview questions for Manufacturing Engineering at Cambridge 

  • Why do you want to study Manufacturing Engineering?
  • Why would this course help in your future career?
  • What is the hardest thing you have done in your degree so far? How did you overcome this?
  • Talk to me about your interest in Manufacturing Engineering more generally (looking at past experiences that are relevant, such as work experience or modules covered in my degree)
  • What is covered in the Manufacturing Engineering course?
  • What skills must a successful Manufacturing Engineering student have?
  • What are your greatest skills/weaknesses?
  • What ideas would you have for launching a new product that currently does not exist?
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    What is covered in the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos at Cambridge?

    The first year provides students with a theoretical grounding in important aspects of manufacturing. After this, students get to apply these fundamentals through major design projects and industrial visits.

    Some modules include:

    • Product Design
    • Operations management
    • Industrial engineering
    • Organisational behaviour
    • Financial management and accounting
    • Industrial economics and strategy
    • Contemporary issues in manufacturing

    In the first year of the two year Manufacturing Engineering tripos at Cambridge, teams of three or four students complete a major design project. This includes developing and launching a new product with real business potential!

    One team launched CoCoal – an open-source technology to help communities in rural Kenya. CoCoal offered communities a low-cost method to produce high-quality cooking briquettes from coconut charcoal. This reduced waste, deforestation and energy expenditure.

    Another team launched a project that could classify microplastics from water samples according to size. They collated data which is accessible to researchers across the globe.

    Finally, one team launched a product that provides a safe, comforting sensory reduction pod for autistic children, providing a safe and quiet space for distressed children. This came in a flat-pack making it easy to use for both schools and parents!

    Students on the course are assessed in a variety of different examinations, form more formal exam papers in different modules, to more practical coursework (such as a Robot lab or a four week industrial project!)

    Student experiences of Manufacturing Engineering at Cambridge

    Bernadette, Queens College: the first year is focused on building business skills, such as commercial acumen, finance, HR, factor organisation and materials processing.

    What I loved about the course is how practical it is – we get to work on a design project to apply the skills we have learnt. Examples of past projects have been a special feedback glove to assist blind people, or a “Water Mortar” water gun! 

    The course has a great mix of the theory and the practical. We have regular lectures, supervisions and seminars, where we have the opportunity to talk to leading academics to solidify our understanding of the modules. We also have plenty of practical experience – such as the design project or visiting different companies and speaking with senior staff members!

    I have loved being able to meet new friends from a range of courses at Cambridge. This has been especially helpful in our design project, as all have different backgrounds and experience so we can leverage our unique skills to help with different aspects of the project!

    I would highly recommend the course to anyone looking to utilise their engineering knowledge in a business environment, getting exposure to leading academics and real world clients!
    If you want to learn more about Manufacturing Engineering at Cambridge, please click here

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