My name is Rabiyat Ajibola Usman, I am from Nigeria and I am currently studying an Applied Artificial Intelligence MSc. The opportunity to study in a prestigious University like Cranfield came as a result of the competitive federal scholarship which I secured from Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigeria to study at Master’s level in the United Kingdom.
My experience at Cranfield University has been memorable and overwhelming as it is still brewing with lots of fulfilling activities that keep me learning despite the perilous times during a pandemic.
I joined Cranfield University in October 2019 from Nigeria where I finished my undergraduate studies by divine providence from an equally famous and prestigious institution (Rhema University Nigeria) in 2014. I graduated with a First Class in Computer Science. I have always been a pace setter and this has not changed. Coming to Cranfield and being a pioneer set of my course, as well as the only African in my class, made me appreciate the golden opportunity that was presented before me with a feel of the Midas touch. Being a Cranfield student further created an environment where I could be challenged to achieve more, as well as a tougher place to collaborate to become exceptional in the world and contribute to the national development of Nigeria.
Cranfield has an effective administrative culture, cordial staff and a harmonious environment for human capital development geared towards high standards and reformation of mindsets and thoughts. The University has availed me the opportunity of meeting students from all over the world, students from different countries with different cultural backgrounds. It was indeed nice interacting with everyone and worthwhile learning how to speak different languages as well as learning about different sumptuous delicacies owing to the fact that we are still keeping in touch while adapting to the new normal.
One of the high points was the opportunity to serve and represent my fellow students as a Course Representative for Applied Artificial Intelligence MSc. This gave me the opportunity to meet and network with the Vice-Chancellor, Executives, Senior Management team and Council Members of Cranfield University in an exclusive meeting where we were given the opportunity to contribute to University discussions and initiatives during our session. I also had access to our Cranfield Simulation Suite, with active motorsport simulators, which was really interesting and remarkable. After seeing the Cranfield infrastructures, the quality of staff, as well as the flying school, I was reassured that I am studying in one of the best postgraduate universities, not just in the United Kingdom, but in the world. One with necessary world class equipment and facilities ready to provide the manpower gap needs to the world.
Cranfield University’s connection to so many industries further rekindled my drive to make an impact as students have numerous opportunities awaiting them even before graduating. The University is a fire brand entrenching global standards and preparing students for international exposure. Studies here are not a sprint but a marathon as sure-footed, cutting-edge technology is being used by our extremely competent and helpful staff for teaching in a highly professional yet friendly ambiance. This method of lecturing has further enhanced my skills, capacity and core competence.
In February 2020, during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall presented Cranfield University its sixth Queen’s Anniversary Prize which was for the work of the National Flying Laboratory Centre in supporting the nation’s aero-engineering students. This further shows that Cranfield University has grown beyond a formidable institution contributing to local, national and international development and I am proud to be associated with it.
Cranfield University is located in a serene and tranquil environment with noticeable abundance of bird life and game. You can be sure to relax within a secured and peaceful atmosphere while in the University. It is indeed an amazing experience of endless beauty and natural wonders which is very conducive for learning.
When you behold the good road network, well mapped walkways, lake, gym, warmth and exceptional feeling of peace and joy, it is the very heart of Cranfield University welcoming you the moment you walk through. It is just uniquely appealing and somewhat indescribable.
Kings Norton’s Library, on the Cranfield campus is a well-equipped library with books across all fields. I am still able to access books, papers, journals and many more materials online despite the pandemic, this proves that the library is a world class standard resource.
Cranfield’s accommodation is not only decent but comfortable for studying as it has proximity to everything I need. Cranfield University is a combination of both academics and relaxation as the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Taught modules, practicals and assignments were quite challenging and sometimes intense, although we were able to proffer solutions through thorough research. We had events like career fairs, workshops, fireworks night, surfing and karaoke where I sang and received lots of accolades for my melodious voice.
One of the events that further united students together was the international day of students organised by the Cranfield Student Association (CSA). It was a great opportunity for different countries, well represented by Cranfield students, to showcase their cultural attires, food, dance, songs and history.
My stay in the United Kingdom has been an opportune moment to visit some interesting places, and I am open to more adventures and tours after the pandemic. As a member of the Cranfield Walking Society, I have been availed the opportunity to visit London, seeing places like Trafalgar Square, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park, where Winter Wonderland is located.
One of the enlightening and interesting places I visited was the Cosford site Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum which was organised by the Cranfield Aeronautical Society in partnership with Cranfield College of Aeronautics Alumni Association. The museum holds so much history in aviation and the Royal Air Force in particular. The Cosford site is one of the RAF stations which had been used to store the museum’s collection of aircrafts. Most of the aircraft in the museum are rare, such as Vickers Wellington. We also went to the National Cold War Exhibition which had V bombers and Cold War aircrafts.
My group and I successfully finished our Group Design Project before the lockdown, which was a worthwhile experience that focused on drones. The Group Design Project is an important part of studying a masters at Cranfield. I had never flown a drone prior to our Group Design Project, but I got the opportunity to learn how to fly a drone courtesy of the training gained from Cranfield.
I was a member of the Group Design Project supervised by Dr Juhyeon Hong. We had a Group UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Swarm Challenge which was sponsored by BAE Systems, with a focus on three distinct areas: navigational confidence (manual autonomous), most effective drone detection method and most innovative defensive solution. We had several meetings with my team members and discussed the best possible way to complete the Group Project successfully knowing that we were not grounded in developing a drone.
We had to multi-task and manage our time in an effective way. I had group members from different countries who were supportive, result-oriented and most importantly easy to work with. After our preparation for presentations, UAV Swarm Challenge at Martell House and report writing, we got a positive feedback from professors and supervisors. The Group Design Project positively enhanced my teamwork, time management and presentation skills.
Cranfield is gradually updating us on how to be a part of the alumni society. Our studies never stopped, despite the global circumstances, as learning was moved online. We were fortunate that the pandemic was not predominant in Cranfield’s location. While still obeying the necessary guidelines, we were studying in a safe environment. Cranfield University provided every possible facility to all students whether at home or on campus, so that we all could successfully complete our studies. Workshops are continuing to be held virtually as students can participate remotely anywhere in the world.
Cranfield University is convenient for recreational activities like cycling and walking through the woodland trail. The simple delights of space, comfort and the sensory stimuli of myriad sights, sounds, scents and endless tropical canvas of colours is second to none. Aside from carrying out my Individual Research Project which is focused on Semantic Segmentation from Airborne Image sequences supervised by Dr Luca Zanotti Fragonara and Professor Weisi Guo, these recreational activities and unrivalled breath-taking surrounding kept me going during the lockdown.
The journey continues and just as the saying goes, starting strong is good, finishing strong is epic. The next phase of my life is exciting and I am confident that this is just the beginning. In the meantime, I sincerely look forward to my second coming for my PhD at this same University. Up Cranfield and best wishes!