Ben Simmonds, a graduate of Derby’s MSc Audio Engineering program, embarked on a journey of self-discovery and academic rigor. With a background in physics and music, Ben sought the challenge offered by Derby. Initially uncertain about his career path, the course instilled in him invaluable research skills and coding proficiency. Despite the upheaval caused by COVID, Ben adapted, prioritizing family and local opportunities. Notably, he discovered the tenacity required for coding, finding satisfaction in tackling complex tasks. Surprisingly, the dissertation became a source of pride. His fondest memories include experiencing well-set-up 3D audio and cherished moments with supportive peers like Matt Russell and Dan Turner. Reflecting on his journey, Ben advises new students to engage fully and attend all course events. Professionally, he transitioned into water recycling technology, driven by a passion for sustainability. Looking ahead, Ben aspires to establish a greywater recycling company while contributing to his community as a councillor.



Photo of Ben Simmonds

Ben Simmonds, Class of 2019



Current location:


Current job + employer:

Sustainable buildings consultant, freelance

What did you do/study prior to coming to Derby?

BSc Physics and Music

Why did you choose to go to the University of Derby?

I wanted a challenge. Adam implied there would be a challenge as part of the course so I chose Derby.

Did you start the course with a specific focus or were you undecided?

I wanted to see what would happen if I concentrated, which I didn’t do for my BSc. I had also just come out of 20 years of teaching and needed to find some joy and see if my brain still worked effectively. I am not sure what I wanted to do as a career but I did think I would continue in music/audio.

Did that focus change on the course? If so, how?

I don’t know if it changed during the course or whether the course allowed me to change but due to undergoing the rigour of the masters, I learnt a lot about myself and my capabilities as well as learning a whole bunch of actually pretty transferable skills.

Has that focus changed on graduating? If so, how?

As discussed above I don’t know when it happened. I graduated into COVID so any plans of going into live music again were scuppered and I needed to take care of my family as my partner caught long covid so being ‘local’ became a focus which dragged things in a different direction.

What was the most useful thing you learned on the course?

That I could do good in-depth work and research. That was really hard in academia and if I was to carry on with it it would have alienated my family. Improvements to my project work, especially coding. Even seemingly massive tasks are tackled by just getting on with it once it is broken into smaller parts. I was more social than I thought I was.

What did you learn on the course that you thought you’d never use, but that has come in handy during your career?

I don’t think I ever thought I wouldn’t use it, but the discovery that coding is 80% banging your head against a keyboard vs. 20% writing and being effective made me feel more able to do it in the future.

What did you do on the course that you never thought you would enjoy?

Dissertation – enjoy is a strong word but maybe more proud.

What was your favourite establishment in Derby (pub, bar, club, restaurant, etc.)?

Most often visited for long chats with Matt – The Creaky Floorboard

What is your most memorable moment from Derby?

Hearing properly setup 3D audio.

What/who at Derby most influenced your life, and how/why?

Matt and Dan – Dan is supremely intelligent and kind – logging into my PC at 01:00 to help me out of a stuck bit. Matt – being a kind intelligent ear and just a friend (still in touch now).

What would you say to a Derby first year student, knowing what you know now?

Make a plan, and put in ground work with fellow course members. Read it all again before submitting. Go to everything if you can ESPECIALLY the special visits and events organised by the course team. Make the most of it.

What have you done professionally since graduating?

Interestinlgy I have gone into water recycling tech using my project skills and prograammming to design a greywater recycling system. I think the call of sustainability in the end won over the call of the audio/music career.

What is your most memorable moment from your career so far?

Interesting word career. I feel like I have just made the best of where I was without really having an overarching career plan. I had fun working at Reading Festival back in the day before I had a family. I enjoyed making music and playing gigs, one of which was in the old Escape Club, I was very pleased with. I am pleased with the albums I produced. I am insanely proud of my tank of ‘smelly water’ that I use to flush the toilets, but that might not be good PR. I am very chuffed to be existing as I am with my family in good health with a new career.

What are your future career plans/ambitions?

Own a greywater recycling company. Be a councillor. Don’t muck anything up.

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