I came to Trinity in 2000 to study Engineering, after finishing A-levels at Bristol Grammar School and spending a gap year working in the semiconductor industry.
I had visited Cambridge but had not seen Trinity itself before deciding to apply. My engineering interests were - and still are - very broad, so it made sense to me to choose a college with engineering fellows conducting research in a wide range of areas. Trinity certainly seemed to fit the bill.
One particular teacher at my school seemed rather surprised when I told her that I was going to study engineering at Cambridge. 'That must be a very cerebral kind of engineering,' she said, perhaps with more than a hint of scepticism. How could a university that some view as rarefied or even isolated keep sight of the very concrete problems that engineers are supposed to solve? Could engineers who choose to build their towers out of ivory really be trusted? Knowing that Cambridge engineers have a distinguished history of making useful inventions, I wasn't too worried, and indeed it turned out that Cambridge and Trinity form a beautiful and exuberant part of the 'real' world.
There were fifteen engineers in my year at Trinity and that made for a very collaborative atmosphere: if I didn't understand a concept, there was always a fellow student close at hand who did, and who would share their understanding. The teaching fellows took a clear interest in our professional development and made time to ask what we were doing and planning, offering advice if we wanted it. Trinity was very supportive when I spent my third year in Boston through the Cambridge-MIT undergraduate exchange.
Socially, too, Trinity's size was a boon: the College is large enough that there is really no single prevailing mood or attitude, and therefore no pressure to conform in any direction. Yet everyone did seem to be united in the sense that being genuine and warm-mannered was what earned respect.
In the Cambridge engineering course great emphasis is placed on boiling down a problem to its essence, distinguishing the important factors in a problem from the negligible, and analysing problems in ways that help to shape design decisions. When I left Cambridge in 2004 I came to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering; my interests lie in engineering electro-mechanical systems with components smaller than a millimetre. After four years in America, I still feel better equipped to identify what is truly important in a technical problem than some others - who took less integrated undergraduate engineering courses elsewhere - seem to be.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering