Member benefit: downloadable outreach resource click here.
Route into engineering
I studied Physics at The University of Manchester at which point I didn’t really have a career path in mind. After graduating, I was exploring my options, when I came across the Process Improvement Engineer role. For me it was the perfect mix of hands on and analysis work. The products I would be supporting looked complex enough to satisfy the scientist in me. Shortly after I started my job, I heard about the IET and the option to become professionally registered as a chartered engineer. I worked to complete my application over the next four years, which really helped focus my development. I submitted my application early 2019 and in the summer of 2019, I was promoted to Senior Engineer, I then completed my professional registration interview and became a chartered engineer in September 2019. The self-reflection and awareness that was required to prepare my application, really helped me focus my development to allow me to become a Senior Engineer, sooner than I would have otherwise.
Senior Process Improvement Engineer at Renishaw
I work for a company which manufactures optical measuring equipment. My role is to improve the processes used to build and test the products supplied to customers. Because we make a large range of complex products in reasonably low volumes (on average less than 1000 of each product each month) much of the work is done by people using tools and fixtures (instead of a continuous production line using machinery like in automotive manufacture).
It is the job of the process improvement engineers to support this assembly process. This involves investigating any defects found within the process, using data analysis and hands on investigation. In my role as a Senior Engineer, I manage the team, helping to prioritise workload, allocating people to tasks, and providing advice to ensure the team’s targets are met.
I work in a high-pressure environment. The outcome and the time taken to investigate issues directly impacts on customer orders, so efficient investigation and strong communication with all the other areas of the business is key to ensure everyone is kept informed and most importantly, the customer is kept happy!
I typically have a few short meetings with senior members of the organisation and my team to review the objectives for the day and to understand what the priorities are, making sure that they are clear to everyone.
Most of my day will spent reviewing technical reports, discussing the outcome and suggestions for next steps with my team members, attending working sessions to progress projects and investigations, ensuring everything is on track and providing guidance to my team, stepping in to lead where necessary.
The rest of my day is usually spent working on my own projects, strategic planning and data analysis to support any new project proposals.
Focus on pursuing the subjects you enjoy and are good at, regardless of what people may expect you to study or what all your friends are doing (I should have chosen design and technology rather than textiles!).
Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and push yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s the quickest way to learn, and often the quickest way to succeed!
I like to spend my free time doing a broad range of activities. I spend some of my time volunteering to help the engineering community (e.g. I am a STEM ambassador) and to keep fit I regularly go indoor bouldering and occasionally surf and ski. I also enjoy learning new things so read a lot of non-fiction text and take evening Spanish classes. They’ve been very useful when I’ve been travelling!
The best thing about my job is the responsibility I have to make decisions and take the team in the best direction. I can see the tangible benefits of my hard work and decision making which gives me great job satisfaction and keeps me really motivated.
The worst thing is probably the fact there are so many things I would like to change and I find it frustrating that I’m not able to progress everything simultaneously!
It’s so beneficial to be able to connect with other like-minded engineers in different organisation to share ideas and be part of a community. Given I have only worked in one company, it gives me an understanding of how things are done elsewhere and what has been successful, which allows me to bring new ideas and strategies to my company without having to take the time to gain the experience by working elsewhere. It also allows me to give something back to the engineering community, share my successes and promote the benefits of a career in engineering, which I hope will encourage more people to pursue engineering as a career.