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Route into engineering
I have always enjoyed maths and science, so those were the subjects that I chose to study at A Level. Once I completed my A Levels, I ignored the pressure from my college to go to university as it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Instead, I spent 5 years working as a motorcycle mechanic both for dealerships and for race teams in the British Superbike Championship. This is what I had always wanted to do, and it was an amazing experience being able to tick that off my “bucket list”. After this time, I decided that I wanted to pursue a more technical career and further my education so I joined JCB on a higher apprenticeship scheme. Through this scheme I completed a Foundation Degree in Integrated Engineering, NVQ Level 4 Extended Diploma and bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, all alongside working 4 days a week at JCB. Once I completed my apprenticeship, I was offered a permanent job in the engine development team where I had been based as an apprentice, and I have been there for the last 2 years.
Engine Development Engineer at JCB
I am responsible for running engine testing to develop and validate prototype diesel engines before they are put in JCB machines and sold to the public. I plan, prepare and deliver a range of engine tests, which can be short 3-hour destructive tests or long-term endurance runs (up to 3 months of testing). I spend most of my time analysing the data that is collected from my engines, and writing technical reports detailing my findings and recommendations.
A typical day for me will consist of a blend of attending/hosting meetings, replying to emails, carrying out data analysis, writing work instructions for the technicians, writing technical reports and signing off engine installations. Some days I will spend the whole day doing one of those activities, but then others I will do all of them and try to juggle my responsibilities. It is important that I manage my workload in order to deliver whichever activity is the current priority, for example if there is a problem or an upcoming milestone we have to hit then my focus will have to be on whatever is required from me to deliver that particular outcome.
Never let anyone dampen your inner fire, chase your passion and build a life that you can't wait to wake up to everyday. People will tell you that you can't do it along the way but use this as fuel to keep you motivated - if you work hard you can achieve anything in this life.
I am a petrolhead, general fitness enthusiast and NFL fan so the majority of my free time is split between those three categories! I have ridden motorcycles for 11 years and enjoy maintaining and modifying my bikes alongside going out for rides across the beautiful English countryside. I love watching Moto GP (and other motorsport) and I am a Las Vegas Raiders NFL fan, so I only really use my TV for watching sport! I also love music and spend a lot of time at gigs and festivals, listening to my vinyl collection or playing electric guitar. I am passionate about the outdoors and adventuring, so I spend a lot of my time out hiking, trail running and/or camping in my van. Exploring new places is one of my favourite things to do, and I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in North America and around Europe over the last few years. I used to play American Football and Roller Derby, but unfortunately both sports have taken too much from my body over the years so I have had to retire...at least for the time being! I enjoy weightlifting, spin classes and mountain biking which are my main activities for keeping fit these days.
In 2018 I was named Midlands Regional and National Runner-Up Engineering Apprentice of the Year by the EEF, which was an absolutely incredible experience that I am so proud of. I was nominated for this award by JCB, and I wanted to apply to push myself out of my comfort zone. I had an hour-long interview with a panel of judges where I talked about my career journey so far and answered questions based on my application. Following my successful win at the regional awards ceremony, I then had to produce a presentation on an unknown topic which was detailed to me when I arrived at the interview. After 20 minutes I then delivered the presentation to another panel of judges, fielded questions and defended my statements on my presentation and then answered other general questions. It was all such an intense process but I feel like I have gained so much self-confidence from this, and this being recognised nationally was an incredible feeling. I have also been offered lots of speaking and other opportunities based on this experience, which has opened so many doors for me and is the reason I'm so proud of the whole thing!
After 2 years of working as a motorcycle mechanic at my first dealership with no issues, I handed my notice in to go and work for a racing team. The owner was really cross that I was leaving and he told me that he’d wanted to fire me for ages anyway, and I was too small to ever make it as a mechanic. I’d had no concerns raised while I had been there so I ignored his comments, and when I bumped into him 5 years later and I was working for a top level British Superbike team it was the best moment! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue your dreams and learn to recognise when someone is saying something out of spite instead of taking it to heart.
Throughout my years working as a motorcycle mechanic I was always the only female in the working environment I was in, whether that was in a dealership or in a race team. In my current role in JCB’s research and development department, there are 70 engineers and only myself and one other female engineer. I have always been really comfortable with this as my natural interests are generally more “male-oriented”, and I have been fortunate to have supportive male colleagues who don’t treat me any differently.