I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Manchester and my degree studies, and learning about analogue and digital devices, sensors and FPGAs even turned out to prove useful in the real world!
Course dates: 2003-2007
Current occupation: Academic Field Engineer, National Instruments
I guess my interest in engineering has always been there, a strong natural curiosity with how things are designed and put together. In any case, GCSE Electronics was really the first practical application of this curiosity in my schooling, and I loved it! I knew I wanted to pursue this interest further and that’s how I arrived at an MEng (Hons) degree in Electronics Engineering. I also wanted to study, live in and experience a big city, so ever practical and with an eye to the future, I chose The University of Manchester, a university well recognised for its close and strong links into industry.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Manchester and my degree studies, and learning about analogue and digital devices, sensors and FPGAs even turned out to prove useful in the real world! I had purposefully picked a course that included an industrial placement, enabling me to round out my academic studies with some real hands-on, practical industry experience. I was able to secure a placement at Intel in Swindon, one of the top names in electronic engineering. My role at Intel helped me develop a good solid understanding of the industry, and I particularly enjoyed the practical elements of the job and the opportunities to interact with customers. Much of the role was lab work – for example, helping to create demos for Technical Marketing Engineers to use at customer events, and supporting customers. I realised here that I wanted a customer facing role.
Following my placement year, I returned to Manchester to complete my final two years, and found my practical experience provided valuable extra perspective and insight, certainly contributing to my first class result! I then set about finding the right customer facing challenge. National Instruments (NI) appealed immediately – the company seemed all about new technologies and the role was very customer centric. After joining NI, I received a thorough three month education in their products, tools and technologies, as well as training in some of the more business focused-skills needed for the job. A key part of the role is supporting customers with their products and applications – by phone, email or web forum, and occasionally at their site – which can mean a huge variety of software, hardware and integration issues in a hugely broad set of industries and applications. We have to try to replicate the customers’ issue, maybe in the lab, and then resolve it to their satisfaction.
In addition, I also get to teach customer training classes, helping customers learn how to use and be successful with NI tools and technologies. It’s great to meet and interact with customers directly, to hear and see how they are using NI products in their applications. Another way I get to experience this is by getting involved in delivering customer events across the UK, presenting technical sessions at seminars and conferences, and helping lead and guide hands-on exercises. The best part of my role is definitely these various customer interactions, understanding how they apply the technology in their day-to-day work, and my next move is likely to be into a field sales role, to get more of this interaction every day and help solve these customer challenges with NI hardware and software. My degree gave me a solid foundation for the role I’m doing now and where it might take me in the future, and I still have that healthy curiosity in how things are designed and put together!
Three years later Beejal is still enjoying her time at National Instruments…
During my time at National Instruments I have had the opportunity to progress quickly by working hard and showing commitment to the role. In July 2008, after just nine months at the company I was made a team leader in the Applications Engineering group. This role allowed me to further develop my leadership and mentorship skills. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about the business as well as still developing my technical skills. In August 2009, less than two years at NI, I was appointed the position of ELP Manager. In this role I now manage the Applications Engineering department containing about 20 Engineers.