Cambridge Engineering Interview Perspective

Bryan Yong, Cambridge Engineering 2014 - 2018
25 Oct 2018

Tell us about your Cambridge Engineering interview(s)

I had two interviews and one 90 minutes critical thinking test (TSA). The most interesting interview question that you still remember is that I was presented a box with wheels on an inclined slope, with a rope attached at the bottom. By pulling the rope (down the slope), the ‘vehicle’ drives up the incline. Sketch the mechanism within the box.
The most difficult is that Derive SHM from first principles. Imagine a ball on an elastic rope (acting under gravity). The ball is pulled down from equilibrium and released. Sketch the distance-time curve of the motion of the ball. At the time, I had one (brief) lesson on the topic. Deriving SHM was difficult, but I managed to do it. The sketching of the ball motion, however, was slightly more difficult. I tried drawing a force-time, and then proceeding to develop a velocity-time and therefore a displacement-time graph, but was pressed for time.
My interviewer asked me a topic of my personal statement. I brought up the false assumption used by Galileo to describe the force-load sharing on the cross-section of a cantilever beam, from the book ‘Invention by Design’ by Henry Petrovski. The interviewer asked me to clarify this position and to illustrate the current knowledge of this forces acting on a cantilever beam.
I think aspect during my interviews i feel appealed the most to the tutors is that my ability to calmly think out loud and work through the question, using my base knowledge from my A-levels.

Tell us about your Cambridge Engineering interview preparation

1. What resources have you used beyond school textbooks to prepare for the unpredictable Oxbridge interview questions?
My Alma Mater, Harrow School, had a wealth of questionnaires filled out by previous candidates. I practiced close to 10 years’ worth of past questions from a variety of different colleges.

2. How much time have you spent on interview preparation in the 1-2 months leading up to the interview relative to you school work? (Hours/week?)
I would say I spent more time preparing for Oxbridge than any one subject I was studying for at the time. Perhaps 20% of my time was spent on Oxbridge preparation.

Q. Since when did you know you wanted to study Cambridge Engineering? What were the aspirations/ motivation?

I decided to apply to Cambridge Engineering after my first term in AS-level. My teachers recognised my passion and capabilities and influenced me to pursue a curriculum that would adequately equip me to apply to Cambridge