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Eager for Engineering

Dr Sarinova Simandjuntak is one of the many Indonesians who are fortunate enough to have a career as a lecturer in the United Kingdom. Here’s an interview of Mrs. Simandjuntak by Abigail Megan from the Student Affairs division, covering Mrs Simandjuntak’s studies, aspiration, and journey on achieving the title of Senior Lecturer at the School of Engineering, Faculty of Technology, University of Portsmouth.

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Dr. Sarinova Simandjuntak

Can you tell us a bit about your track of vocation so far?

I came to England as a scholarship student sponsored by Rolls Royce (RR) plc as a result of the collaboration between RR and the Indonesian Aircraft Industry. I did my 1 year A-Level in Derby before taking my undergraduate degree course in Materials Science and Engineering, Imperial College (IC) London.  I was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degree with first class honour in 1995.  I then obtained my Master degree (MSc in corrosion of engineering materials) in 1996 and doctorate degree (in structural materials) in 2001 from the same institution.

After obtaining the doctorate degree, I joined the Solid Mechanics group, Mechanical Engineering Department, Bristol University as a Research Associate. I was there until 2008 before moving to Leatherhead in Surrey and joined an engineering consultancy company, called the European Technology Development (ETD) ltd.  The company deals a lot with power generation (conventional) power plants, petrochemical, oil and/ gas industries. My main role was mainly to assess the structural integrity (defects and life assessment) of the plant and its components/attributes. I was first a principal engineer then I became a team leader and a plant integrity manager. I enjoyed the management side of the job when at a time I managed a group of engineers and between 10-12 projects. Due to my passion in research, I decided to come back to the academic life, and joined the University of Portsmouth in 2011. I became a lecturer and I am now a senior lecturer. My subjects include advanced and modern materials, solid mechanics and dynamics, and structural integrity of engineering materials.  My research includes structural integrity of polymer based composite piping, defect and life assessment of high chromium grade steels, dissimilar metal welding and its issues including corrosion detection and monitoring for life assessment.  My other interest in research is on additive manufacturing, such as studying the control parameters for 3D printing of metals and transparent materials (glass).

How did you get to where you are right now?

“By being observant, quick to identify opportunities, open mind, motivated and working hard.”

It is also important to develop a good communication and social skill (which I gained through joining in and out of campus student organisation such as PPI). It helps to learn how to be diplomatic and to be patient when approaching a problem and trying to solve it. I suppose my analytical and research skills also help me a lot in my problem-solving ability.

I also learned from my mistake and from my colleagues, but I was not afraid to admit when I made a mistake and thanked colleagues for their help.

Since I was doing my undergraduate, I have started developing a social network within the research community and within the engineering network through attending conferences and meetings, which was very much supported by the university. The Indonesian Aerospace Student Association (IASA) used to hold a yearly conference which opened to undergraduate students. My UG project supervisor was really supportive and helped me with my paper and presentation. I am grateful to have the support and good relationship with my tutor/supervisors to this date. Needless to say, a good social network leads me to where I am today.

Does having a UK degree help you in getting where you are/you want to be, or does it do the opposite?

It definitely helps to have the UK degree.


If you could relive your university years, what would you do differently?

There is nothing I would do differently really. I enjoyed every single moment of my university life. I would have added more activities to my list perhaps such as joining the IC choir but I did enjoy socialising with some campus friends instead.

Any advice for the current students who aspire to be lecturers like you?

You need to love the job that you’d like to do.  I love teaching, engaging with students, and research.  Open mind with what you can do and you’d like to do.