22 November 2023. Brought to you by Chris Hamlett.

Omar Haroun

What is your current job / programme of study?

I’m currently a first year PhD student on the Advanced Biomedical Materials CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) at The University of Manchester.

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do?

Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Further Maths .

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)?

I found that the underlying principles behind everything that interested me was either materials advancements or new physics discoveries. Revolutionary physics discoveries are few and far between. Novel materials, however, are always being discovered. Finding the uses for those new innovative materials is something I enjoy.

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course?

The breadth of knowledge I gained! Learning about which properties of a material makes it stand out and that it’s not always just the cheapest material that fits the bill that makes it to production. Getting my hands on the most innovative materials such as graphene was a highlight. In third year, we made a superconductor out of graphene, carbon nanotubes and carbon black. I generally loved learning about nanomaterials and biomaterials the most!

What is your research about? 

I will be creating a system that helps surgeons repair torn tendons in the body.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far? 

I ran a start-up that helped lower limb amputees feel the ground when they walk, garnering lots of traction and attention from the target market as well as the entrepreneurship community. Seeing the look on a patient’s face when you tell them you’re building something to help them with their daily struggles is my motivation.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I would love to see the project I’m working on now implemented into clinics, where patients and clinicians both see improvements in their daily lives.

What is your favourite material (and why)? 

Graphene due to its superlative properties. You could balance an elephant on the tip of a high heeled shoe and it wouldn’t pierce through graphene. The craziest thing about graphene for me is that it’s transparent to the naked eye, despite being so incredibly strong!

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

At 16, I was still undecided between pursuing engineering or something business/economics related. I decided to go down the engineering and sciences route because I believe business is something best learned when applied to an industry and not just abstractly in a classroom. I now believe that this was the right decision and I wish I’d discovered materials sooner. When finishing up my GCSEs, I’d only heard about mechanical, civil, aerospace and electrical engineering and I am glad that I ended up involved with all of them through materials science.

Omar also loves photography – check out some of his fantastic photos at harounphoto.com