Aemilia is a third- year Chemical Engineering student at UCL and a Project Leader for Project Impactive. The experience has helped her connect to the UCL community in new ways and learn how to deal with situations of uncertainty.



Tell us a little about Project Impactive.


Project Impactive is a group of engineering students who work with clients with disabilities and create personalised engineering designs to resolve some of the everyday difficulties they have. These may sometimes be small things but are incredibly important, and our goal is to make an impactful change to their lives.

As this aspect of our work is primarily face-to-face, we have had to adapt significantly over the past year and now we have many new remote projects. For example, we run school outreach and have started a software project for developing digital engineering solutions.


What have you been involved in as a Project Leader?


As a Project Leader, I set up the committee, recruited student volunteers, then created working groups and have since then been involved in managing them. Project Impactive has a fantastic team, and my role is to support them and make sure we work together to achieve our goals as a project!


Why did you want to become a project leader?


I first joined Project Impactive last year as a Vice President, supporting the Project Leaders. I got to do a lot of admin work and experienced what it is like to run a Student-Led Volunteering Project. I could also see how our engineering skills and knowledge could be used in a very real way. This was important for me as I hadn’t seen other such student opportunities.

I wanted to develop my leadership skills, so it was a two-way thing – I had a genuine passion for the project and I also wanted to gain new skills.


What impact has volunteering, and leading a project had on you?


‘Leading the Project has been very beneficial for my wellbeing because it gave me something to work on outside of my studies and an opportunity to connect to the UCL community.’


In my first year, I didn’t get involved in extra-curricular activities at UCL and felt really disconnected from the whole community. With Project Impactive, I had something new and different to work on but as I really enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like work!

The whole experience has also been a steep learning curve. I have developed my people managing, time management, organisation and group work skills and understood that sometimes you learn best when things go wrong!


How has your network developed whilst being a Project Leader? Did you connect with external organisations, volunteers or other individuals?


Absolutely! Project Impactive is a very large community – we have over 60 volunteers and connecting with them has been great. Many opportunities have come through such new relationships and I have even started a separate project about rockets with one of my connections. I love it!


What was the biggest challenge you encountered? How did you overcome this challenge?


A huge challenge for me was when in September my co-Project Leader had to step down. As it was the start of term, we had not recruited our committee yet and I had to find the whole team. I attended volunteer fairs, did the volunteer recruitment, and eventually also got on board another co-leader! At some point I though the project could fail as everything was so uncertain. In such moments you just have to persevere and then you will look back and feel good about it! We now have a great team and I am really glad about it!


Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst being a Project Leader.


Last year we ran a very successful Accessibility Hackathon - a week-long online event, engaging engineering students in real-life projects and giving them an insight into careers in accessibility. I collaborated with UCL Technology Society and we also got guests from Amazon as well as people who were involved in organising the Paralympic Games. We had over 70 student participants from 8 different universities! It was the first time I had done something on this scale and it gave me the confidence to make similar things happen in the future!


What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about being a Project Leader?


Don’t worry if things don’t go as planned! At the start, I tried to be perfect with everything, which made things stressful. But it shouldn’t be like that and even though you are a Project Leader, you have your team to rely on and you have to accept that things may go wrong. Just be ambitious and get the work done!

Has Aemilia's Impactive experience impacted you? You can learn more about Project Impactive and how to get involved on their website.

Want to start your own Student-led Volunteering Project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!