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Hi, my name is Emily and I am an electronic engineering apprentice at PA Consulting Group in the Technology Practice. I am about to start the second year of my apprenticeship having just completed the first year of my HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
At school, my favourite subject was mathematics, mainly because I love problem solving! I enjoyed applied modules, such as Mechanics, as I could see how the theory could be applied to real life situations; it made me feel like the theory had a place in real life. Likewise, Design & Technology also interested me because I liked learning about the product development process and being able to think outside the box. You would have thought I would have realised engineering would be perfect for me at school, but no!
Instead, my interest in engineering was first sparked by my work in a local engineering company that specialised in gauging equipment for the automotive industry. I started out helping in the purchasing department during my summer holidays and then, as my interest in the area grew I threw myself into other tasks until I progressed to become part of the design department full-time providing design support and designing hand gauges. My design work taught me a lot about design and manufacturing processes but it also made me keen to learn more!
Initially, I was interested in focusing on mechanical engineering with the intention of developing my skills to become a mechanical designer. Electronics felt like a daunting concept as I had minimal previous exposure to this area of engineering; the ‘clever stuff’ seemed invisible. It wasn’t until I bought an Arduino, a programmable chip used to control electronic circuits, that my understanding of electronics began to develop. Suddenly things started to feel more real and the ‘clever stuff’ stopped seeming so invisible. From the moment I could control an LED with a bit of programming, I was hooked.
PA Consulting Group’s main focus is Research & Development projects, so I am exposed to a diverse range of work; I could be working on anything from chocolate to baby gates! My work allows me to combine my technical knowledge with my creativity to provide solutions to our clients’ problems. Every day I am faced with a new challenge and I am constantly learning new things.
I recently worked on a project focused on developing an automatic baby gate to help make parents lives easier. We had to design and build the electronics and develop a program to control the gate. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about programming and developing the circuit board. Presenting the prototype was a great experience and proved to me how far I have come just one year into my apprenticeship.
No day at work is the same; I love the variety of things I can do and learn in just one day at the office. My work stretches me and encourages my creativity. I knew I had a passion for engineering when I started my apprenticeship, but I didn’t quite realise how diverse my chosen field is! There is so much to learn and so many opportunities to be taken advantage of; with technology advancing at the rate it is it is a very exciting time to be involved in the engineering industry!