The University’s involvement in the IET Power Academy scheme meant that I also gained invaluable on-the-job experience working for Alstom Grid over three summer placements.
Course dates: 2006 -2010
Current occupation: Graduate Engineer at Parsons Brinckerhoff
It is a common belief that some of the best years of your life are those spent at university. I could not agree more! That being said, I am having a fantastic time in my graduate job as an engineering consultant at Parsons Brinckerhoff. It is the skills that I developed and the experiences that I gained during my time at the University, that are helping me to be successful in this role.
Maths and physics were subjects that I had always enjoyed at school, but I realised that I wanted a job that focused on finding solutions to real world problems. Engineering was therefore a perfect choice. I also liked the fact that taking a degree in the subject would lead to a specific career path.
Electricity is critical to modern society, and even before beginning my degree I believed power engineering would provide exciting job opportunities for life. I was also interested in electronics and so decided to study electrical and electronic engineering. The University of Manchester was my first choice for this. This was due to its reputation for excellence, its fantastic links with industry and its participation in the IET Power Academy scheme. The fact it is also based in a lively city, with so much to do and see, was also a big selling point!
During my four years at the University I developed a wide range of skills, both technical and transferable. The course involved the study of many interesting topics, with lectures taught by experts in the sector. There were also practical sessions, which helped to reinforce the knowledge and team projects, which helped to improve leadership and team working skills. The course involved several opportunities to practice presentation skills, and report writing skills were developed through the submission of coursework. The University’s involvement in the IET Power Academy scheme meant that I also gained invaluable on-the-job experience working for Alstom Grid over three summer placements.
When applying for jobs, I found that companies were particularly interested in this range of acquired skills. The questions that were asked in the interviews focused on giving examples of where these skills have been demonstrated. The application processes also involved team exercises and presentations.
Since joining Parsons Brinckerhoff one and a half years ago, I have enjoyed a varied range of work. For the past eight months I have been working for a distribution network operator on a range of asset replacement projects. These projects involve the replacement or refurbishment of substation equipment, such as transformers and circuit breakers. Initially, I was involved in helping out with producing tender specifications, but more recently I have taken on the role of project manager. So far this has involved site meetings, discussions with contractors, ordering equipment, producing specifications, and developing a plan for the duration of the project. I am really enjoying these projects and am excited for work to begin on site in a few months time.
Other work I have been involved in includes producing literature reports on smart grids, electric vehicles, fault level management and voltage control, as well as the management of office relocation for the HVDC interconnector project between Ireland and Wales.
I am currently working towards chartered status, which I hope to gain in the next four to five years. There are so many exciting developments in the power industry and I look forward to a varied and interesting career in this field.