Development Engineer - Delphi Diesel Systems, Gillingham Technical Centre
How did you first become interested in STEM as a career?
I was interested in industrial archaeology from a young age because of the enthusiasm passed on to my brother and me by our Grandfather who was an Engineer. This led to playing with lawnmower engines and toy steam engines. We attended local industrial archaeology society meetings, museum visits and various steam and craft shows with family – initially as visitors and then as exhibitors.
What pathway did you follow to get to where you are?
1) I completed some O-levels (GCSE equivalents) at a secondary school (including Maths & physics). My hobbies meant I wanted to work in some form of science or engineering. Family discussion helped shape things; I decided against a job as a workshop fitter at a local lighting manufacturer to pursue engineering at the local further education college – here I studied a 2 year full time BTEC OND in General Engineering. I declined the A-level route due to the apparent study intensity required and lack of direct engineering content. Although A-level maths was included in the BTEC course I dropped out of it because it was too hard. (Note: NOT RECOMMENDED - for engineering degrees A-level maths is an important base. In my first year on the degree, maths was like hitting a brick wall – I required remedial maths lessons and then only scrapped through first year maths exam.)
2) A teacher on the BTEC course encouraged us to apply for higher education but it was assumed by him and me that I would do an HND not a degree due to my difficulty with maths. I planned to do HND mechanical engineering at what is now Nottingham Trent University. When I got my results for the BTEC course I had just enough points to scrape in to the Mech Eng degree so basically I turned up in Nottingham and signed up for that instead. I completed the degree successfully – but I only did three years full time not the usual four year course with year in industry due to my too-relaxed approach at trying to find a placement with the careers advisor. (Note: NOT RECOMMENDED – to start a successful Engineering career having experience from a year in industry helps a lot when getting a permanent Engineering job! This is corroborated by some previous year-long placement Students that have worked in my Department and have got jobs directly from University.)
3) After being unemployed for 6 months I did a government funded one year MSC course and then was unemployed for another 9 months (usual problem of qualified but no engineering experience) I have now been with my current employer as Mechanical Engineer for 18 years.
What inspires and enthuses you about your work and STEM?
I enjoy engineering because it is very logical, usually with obvious right and wrong answers. By understanding scientific and mathematical principles problems can be solved. Using logic and developing a mindset prepared to investigate and understand means benefits also outside employment: being able to question my car servicing bill to make sure I’m not being ripped off, changing a tap for my Mum or fitting a kitchen sink (even though I’m not an committed DIYer). Engineering is also key to our survival as a world community – solving water and food problems and enabling more to be made from less: I have recently been working with my brother to understand techniques for creating clean water supplies for his hope for overseas work – although so far it’s all been academic work. I still enjoy toy steam engines and lawnmower engines – my Mum and Step-Dad have fortunately accepted most of her shed is filled with machinery which I still occasionally exhibit and my model steam boiler is in pieces on my lounge table awaiting my attention (and has been so for probably a year or more!)
"I enjoy engineering because it is very logical... By understanding scientific and mathematical principles problems can be solved."