As a BSc (Hons) Product Design graduate, Abigail Batley has one bit of advice for anyone considering following her onto the programme at Bournemouth University: “I would highly recommend taking up the optional placement year during your studies. I felt it set me up for my final year and my career; you get that real-world experience and learn so much.”

Abigail spent her placement year with Drilling Systems, a company that designs simulators for the oil and gas industry, doing metal fabrication designs and high detail engineering drawings. She went on to achieve a first class honours degree. In her final year she developed a carbon fibre prosthetic foot for badminton players who require a lot of flexibility with ankle movements, which meant undertaking a lot of detailed testing and refining of 3D printed models.

It’s no wonder Abigail is a fan of placements as, following her time at Drilling Systems, the company was so impressed by her talents that they offered to sponsor her during her final year. This support ensured that she was able to fund rigorous testing of her prosthetic design and, through its refinement, she was able to develop a deep knowledge of the 3D printing process.

By presenting her prototype at Bournemouth University’s Festival of Design & Engineering, the showcase event for all final year design and engineering students, Abigail was delighted to receive a Dyson Award and invitations for three job interviews from companies including Dyson and Princess Yachts. However, after delivering James Dyson Workshops to local schools, Abigail decided not to pursue the commercial opportunities offered to her.

“I realised I wanted to help new students by passing on the knowledge I had gained at BU and that, by becoming a researcher, I could continue to build my understanding of the burgeoning technology of 3D printing” says Abigail. So when she was offered a research post at the university where she had so enjoyed studying, Abigail was delighted to accept. Her goal now is to achieve a doctorate within the next five or six years.

“I didn’t want to leave Bournemouth and head to London for a corporate role,” she explains. “I so love life here. I first visited Bournemouth on a BU Open Day and instantly fell for the place. Coming from Leicester, I find living by the beach really wonderful; it’s such a laid back and friendly town but close to London and Southampton if you fancy shopping or exploring somewhere bigger.”

Currently on secondment to the RNLI, Abigail is now working within their Innovation Team. “They are an impressively progressive organisation”, she enthuses “the marine industry is not known for being at the forefront of technology but my project is about disrupting the supply chain which is very exciting. We are looking at reducing the high storage costs of vital replacement parts for our lifeboats by utilising 3D printers. We are using all the fantastic cutting-edge facilities available at Bournemouth University to develop this capability and are looking to share this knowledge with other businesses and industries.”

The satisfaction Abigail gets from her work is blatantly evident and, as she explains, “It’s crazy to think I’m only two years out of university and I’m being tasked with establishing a ‘Fab’ - or Fabrication – Lab!” The way her career is heading, it’s no wonder Abigail says: “Picking your university and degree is a really difficult choice, but, if I went back, I would choose Bournemouth all over again.”