“Now I’ve got EngTech status I’m in a position to keep working upwards and I think it’s a great thing to put on my CV at this stage. To show I’m already professionally registered is excellent. Every little helps, and I took the opportunity as soon as I could!”
Mike has recently completed his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Hertfordshire and is getting ready to move on to a master’s at Cranfield University this autumn.
Getting into engineering
With an engineer for a dad, Mike’s always been close to engineering, even being given the opportunity to help out his father at work as he owns his own metrology company.
“Through this I obviously got involved with technical drawings etc. I’d always been interested in planes and originally wanted to be a pilot but can’t because I have bad eyes. So I put together the fact that I loved planes and loved engineering and worked out the career path I’m currently taking,” he says.
“I liked working with my hands, fixing and building things, and from what I’d heard it looked like a good trade to get involved in.”
Going to university and undertaking an industrial placement has allowed Mike to hone in on the specific area he wants to work - structural design and analysis. This will be his focus during his time at Cranfield.
Finding his own industrial placement
Mike spent 14 months working for Delphi, a global supplier of electronics and technologies for automotive and commercial vehicles amongst others. He sourced this placement himself, persistently calling and asking about placement opportunities.
“They weren’t advertising student placements so I just rang up and said I’m interested in doing a placement there and asking for a job. I kept calling and eventually I went for an interview, they liked me and took me on. I think it’s that you’re persistent and enthusiastic - they want that more than just skills and knowledge,” he says.
What his time at Delphi entailed
When he began he was introduced to the samples department, where new components are made and tested.
“My job wasn't as engineering based as I’d have liked there, but it was a really good introduction to getting to grips with the parts and I was trained to test them. I got to talk to suppliers and in many cases I was left to manage my own workload, the flow of parts etc.
After three months there Mike began asking management to move him to a new department so he could try out several roles during his time at the company.
Six months in he was given a role within the development department.
“I was put in a very small team just finishing off one of the old projects,” he explains. “My time there was spent testing equipment, finding faults, analysing and repairing them, then putting together a report. It was a problem solving role.”
Discovering what life as a working engineer is actually like
From there Mike moved into the design department, which in his own words was a “wake up call.”
“It was a hell of a lot more technical - I had to be very careful with my intuition there, you had to know exactly what to do,” he explains. “It was a real steep learning curve and I had to get to grips with the finite element analysis (FEA) programs like ANSYS 12 and 13. This was the toughest department for me, but it was also the most interesting - I really liked getting my teeth into the challenge.”
Mike feels he walked away from his placement not only having gained a wide new range of skills but also a much better understanding of what it’s like to actually be a working engineer.
“It’s a huge wake up call, you think that straight away you’re going to walk in there and be this great engineer earning lots of money,” he says. “It’s less glam than you might expect but it’s also more challenging and in-depth. You think you know it all but when you leave uni and enter the work place you begin to understand you only know enough of the basics to get by!”
Promoting the importance of industrial placements
When he returned to university he was keen to let other students know how important it is to gain experience. “I spent some time with the second year students and said to them all to do a placement if you can, because you learn so many more skills like communication, team work, learning to think critically etc. A placement allows you to see your limits, but also your potential.”
Gaining EngTech as a student
When it came to professional registration, Mike had always been focused on working toward Chartered Engineer (CEng) status, which was “far down the line”. However he received an email from his university, which highlighted that he might be able to achieve Engineering Technician (EngTech) professional registration through his industrial placement and he began to think differently about his plan.
“I discovered more about professional registration, the different levels such as EngTech, IEng and CEng. Over time it really stuck in my head that I should work towards/apply for EngTech now rather than just wait until I’m ready to apply for CEng,” he says.
Once achieved, Mike was also able to put down his EngTech professional registration on his application to Cranfield.
“I can only imagine it definitely helped me get in,” he enthuses. “I received an offer very quickly, and they even offered me a bursary as well!”