As a child, Ilyas Seckin had the gift of putting together disassembly toys, playing with LEGOs and robots. world-renowned technology.
“The curiosity about how autonomous systems, robots, cars, airplanes and rockets work, as well as an interest in mathematics, physics and astronomy, led me to pursue my BSc in Mechanical Engineering”, explains Seckin.
We caught up with this 18-year-old student to find out more about his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, how it allows him to combine all of his interests in one field and why he chose Switzerland:
Why did you choose to pursue your BSc of Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zurich?
I decided to study for my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the end of the eighth year. Research led me to discover that ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities particularly in the field of engineering.
Fun fact, Einstein studied here! ETH Zurich has a rich history, renowned professors and highly equipped research facilities. So naturally, it became my goal to continue my bachelor’s degree there.
Do you think it would make a difference if you pursued a BSc in Mechanical Engineering at a local institution? If yes, why?
I decided to study abroad at the start of high school. As I took the International Baccalaureate program, I would have to study for the Turkish University Entrance Examination if I chose to study at a Turkish University.
Turkey offers a good engineering education, however, I think Switzerland is the center of several international companies and NGOs which offer a wider range of opportunities for research and connection with industry. In addition, I actively use my language skills in German, English, Russian and Turkish to get to know people from all over the world.
What has been your most memorable class so far – and why? Is Mechanical Engineering Easy to Study?
I love studying for my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and find all the courses interesting! If I had to choose one, I would choose “Technical Drawing and Computer Aided Design”. In addition to learning the theory behind 3D modeling and technical drawing, we also create our own models.
Students in this class design their own balloon-powered cars and drive them at the end of the semester. The winner receives a free 3D print of anything of their choice!
Do you have good memories with your teachers at ETH Zurich? How have they supported your studies so far?
I’m sure most countries around the world are facing the pandemic, most students have now had to move their studies online, which means in-person contact with professors and classmates is very limited. However, ETH Zurich has allowed me to have a smooth transition thanks to its advanced online infrastructure.
I find that the courses at my university are always ready to help students because I have never had an unanswered question so far. Not only did I feel supported on academic issues but also on German, which for me is a foreign language.
Can you apply the theories you learned in lecture halls and classrooms to the real world?
There is a lot of hands-on learning involved in getting my BSc in Mechanical Engineering. First, there is a five-week workshop training (an internship, if you will) that must be completed before you graduate. Students gain hands-on experience in component production and gain an understanding of materials as well as the machining and finishing process.
Second, there is a mandatory lab practice where students conduct lab experiments. These aid in understanding measurement, in the use of appropriate equipment, and in practical use in research.
Finally, students have the option of choosing to carry out a ‘focused project’, where they apply the knowledge they have gained to a market driven project. Here the students are responsible for everything in the project.
Here you can see a short trailer of the deployment of the Focus 2019 project:
Or the Focus 2020 Projects:
What are your academic goals?
I plan to complete my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in three years with a good GPA. If it goes as planned, I would like to become a teaching assistant because I like to share information.
I am also interested in quantum physics, after all I study in a country where CERN is located – the European Council for Nuclear Research -! I also plan to improve my Swedish and Chinese by choosing these elective courses in the following semesters.
In terms of academic goals, I wish to gain fundamental knowledge in the field of mechanical engineering, and a better understanding of the process of solving complex problems.
What is one thing that you are missing at home?
I miss my family, we talk very often through technology so I am always aware of them! It’s certainly not the same as seeing them in person, but it’s heartwarming to know that they’re only a video call away.
What three things do you like about Zurich?
Interesting fact: Zurich’s old slogan is “Little Big City”. Coming from Istanbul, which has around 15 million inhabitants, the 400,000 inhabitants of Zurich are indeed a “small” city. Nonetheless, Zurich has everything a big city like Istanbul has.
Switzerland has four official languages - German, French, Italian and Romansh – and is home to the headquarters of the world’s largest companies. It is a hub for important international organizations, which allows it to be a multicultural country. It’s safe and welcoming!
The city is close to the Alps, so there is a lot of beautiful scenery to enjoy. Zurich is a very beautiful Swiss city, and the beauty can always be enjoyed during study breaks.
Zurich’s transport system works very well. It’s super easy to buy tickets and there are always student discounts available. There is no excuse for being late as all transportation is very punctual.
ETH shared this photo I took of their main building!
What do you plan to do with your bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering after you graduate?
My goal for now is to complete the program. After that, I plan to continue by pursuing an MSc in the same field. At ETH Zurich, students with a bachelor’s degree are automatically admitted to at least one master’s program in the same academic field.
I don’t have a specific plan for what I plan to do after my masters, but throughout my teaching journey I have realized that I enjoy teaching and conducting research. One possible path for me might be to pursue a PhD and stay in academia.
What advice do you have for international students who want to go abroad to Zurich?
I would advise each student to check carefully whether they meet all the requirements of the chosen course. Afterwards, it is crucial to respect the deadlines. Accommodation is not very easy to find in Zurich so I would start researching options before coming here.
Switzerland has many rules regarding a lot of things and I would suggest incoming students to find out about noise regulations, waste regulations, compulsory health insurance, residence permit application and transportation. I also find it useful to write everything down on my phone.