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Engineering Students Represent Oxford in the Annual Boat Race

The Department is proud to celebrate our Engineering Science students wearing Oxford Blue in the 2023 Boat Race on 26th March.

From L-R: Sarah Helin, Alexander Bebb, Tom Sharrock, Tassilo Van Mueller

The annual Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race brings the best rowing talent from both universities together in a competition dating back centuries. This year, four Engineering Science students have been selected to represent the university and the Department are delighted to celebrate this achievement. After winning the Men’s race last year, Oxford are keen to retain the title for a consecutive year, with the Women’s team aiming to bring a win back for the first time since 2017.

Sara Helin - Undergraduate

Sara Helin, of St. Peter’s College, is in the 4th year of her undergraduate MEng degree. Her fourth-year project explores decarbonising shipping, by using image analysis of green ammonia spray, image processing, and Matlab skills to improve sustainability. Sara recently completed a summer internship in research at Oxford, resulting in a paper on the electrochemistry of batteries, supported by Andrew Wang and Professor Charles Monroe.

Having started rowing for OUWBC in her second year, Sara is now the President of the Oxford women’s team. The Oxford women are aiming to curb the trend and take back the win from Cambridge this year, under her leadership. Sara explained what this means to her;

“I am honoured to be representing the University and Department in the Boat Race. Balancing my studies and rowing commitments has not always been easy, however the support from my tutors and supervisors has been critical to my success.”

Alex Bebb – DPhil Student

Alex, of St Peter’s College, is currently pursuing a DPhil in Engineering. With a passion for Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, Alex is doing most of his research at The Oxford Thermofluids Institute.

Part of Professor Peter Ireland’s Group, Alex is conducting research into novel cooling systems for high pressure and temperature turbine blades and vanes. The goal is to develop systems that increase engine efficiency, saving consumers and airlines on fuel costs and reducing the environmental impact of the airline industry. Alex explains;

“The opportunity to work experimentally in the design and construction of a test facility has been, by far, the most exciting academic pursuit. It has been a thoroughly rewarding experience to work alongside brilliant researchers in the department.”

Previously competing in the Boat Race in 2021, Bebb hopes for a better result this year and for the Oxford team to bring home a consecutive win;

“Representing the University and the Department in The Boat Race is the culmination of years of hard work both on and off the water. Hours sacrificed in the pursuit of athletic achievement and academic excellence will finally pay off when we line up against the light blue counterparts.”

“Hours sacrificed in the pursuit of athletic achievement and academic excellence will finally pay off when we line up against the light blue counterparts.”

Tassilo Van Mueller - DPhil Student

Tassilo, of Hertford College, is currently undergoing his second year of DPhil studies, with his research focusing on Aerospace Engineering at The Oxford Thermofluids Institute. Working in Professor Peter Ireland’s group, Tassilo is investigating ways to improve the performance of turbine blade film cooling. He explains what he enjoys most about his research,

“I enjoy having to continuously come up with original ideas and methods to solve engineering problems.

 A lot of methods will already have been used by someone else out there, but you might have to apply them in a novel way. This makes the work challenging and rewarding at the same time.”

Outside of his degree, Tassilo is involved in the SDG Impact Lab which partners with businesses and helps them to identify and solve problems related to the 17 sustainable development goals.

Entering the sport of rowing from the age of 12, Tassilo was aware of the Oxford v Cambridge rivalry, where he knew he wanted to be a part of that experience. He explains; “I feel very grateful to be a part of a team of inspiring people this year and hopefully many of them will remain among some of my closest friends.”

I feel very grateful to be a part of a team of inspiring people”

Tom Sharrock – 2nd year

Tom, of Magdalen College, is a second-year Engineering Science undergraduate. He talks about his studies; “The aspect of the course I like

 most is how varied it is and how much ground we cover. I feel like I get a much better grasp of Engineering as a whole, rather than just one side of it, which is what most courses offered by other universities [do].”

Having trialled for OUBC in his first year, and a part of the club since, Tom explains how “The prospect of rowing in the boat race was another reason studying at Oxford appealed to me so much. It’s exciting to be representing the University on such a big stage, whilst also doing something I really enjoy.”

“It’s exciting to be representing the University on such a big stage.”

The Department wishes all the students involved in this year’s Boat Race the best of luck for this Sunday.

All photo credits - Benedict Tufnell/Row360 for The Gemini Boat Race.