Education and qualifications:
MEng Mechatronic Engineering, Lancaster University
Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I’ve always loved making things and at school I particularly enjoyed Design Technology (DT). It was a DT teacher who mentioned engineering and before that I’d not really heard of it or realised that there was a career that embodied all of the subjects I really enjoyed at school.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I’m a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, currently teaching Engineering Management to all third year Engineering undergraduates at both Lancaster University and at one of our overseas campuses located in Beijing Jiaotong University. I also supervise individual and group projects, have a first year tutorial group and am a deputy convenor for a couple of modules. In addition to this I undertake research aligned with my academic interests, which centres around engineering design for applications that directly involve human or animal wellbeing. Lastly I play an active role within the Engineering Department, especially when it comes to outreach and engagement.
Can you describe a typical working day?
A typical working day might involve delivering a lecture or workshop session, which means engaging the student cohort in the material and encouraging active learning through participation and discussion. I might then spend some time on one of my research projects, reading relevant literature or progressing a design to enable field testing for data collection. Undoubtedly I will receive questions from students either related to the module I teach or, if it’s my tutees, related to an issue they may be having with their studies, and I will spend time answering these. Lastly, I try to take a walk at lunch to get some fresh air and exercise.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
One of the most unusual aspects of my role is the direction that research takes. Research allows you to try things that no-one else has previously done, push the boundaries of what is possible and hopefully benefit future generations as a result. For example, I’m currently working on a collaborative research project designing artificial bumblebee nest boxes, with a view to mass deployment to encourage pollinators in areas of decline or natural habitat destruction. As a result I’ve learned a lot about bumblebees and their nesting habits – something I would have never imagined when I chose to take up engineering as an undergraduate!
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I really enjoy the teaching side of my role and exploring new ways of making the learning experience engaging. This has been a particular challenge given the pivot to online delivery in 2020 and subsequently using a blended approach in 2021/2022. However, it has given me the opportunity to explore how technology can be used effectively, resulting in a more accessible approach that is no longer limited by the physical learning environment.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
Chartered status has been a goal of mine since the age of around 17 and is undoubtedly the aspect of my career to date that I’m most proud of, especially as there have been times when I’ve been unsure whether I could achieve this as well as having a family.
I was awarded the Kathbert Trophy from the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED), in July 2018. This was a direct result of my application for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status and the subsequent interview!
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
I’ve always pushed myself to aim high and have strived to become the best engineer I could be. To achieve this, I wanted to be recognised as a professional engineer who is respected in their field and Chartered status really embodies this.
In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Registration has given me instant credibility when introducing myself at conferences or to new clients or potential collaborators. It’s an accolade that is widely recognised and highly regarded. It’s given me a boost in confidence and determination to keep pushing myself to achieve more great things.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
A lot of undergraduates have achieving CEng on their radar as something to achieve in the future. As a lecturer, CEng status gives credibility to the knowledge I’m imparting. It also adds to the breadth of experience within the department, ranging from highly academic and theoretical through to applied engineering practice. This is important not only for the students, but also for external companies working with Lancaster University, to strengthen funding bids and to feed into collaborative research.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Keep a good record of all of your achievements throughout your career, even if at the time they don’t seem significant. It will make writing your professional review report that bit easier. There were achievements earlier on in my career that I’d totally forgotten about when it came to writing the report but thankfully I’d kept a record of them.
It’s definitely a worthwhile process, experience and achievement when you are awarded CEng.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
At the time of writing this, I’m just about to embark on a part-time PhD which I aim to have completed within the next five years. As such, I’m aiming to really establish my research career, publish my research findings and climb the academic ladder.
Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I’m a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador and support a lot of STEM events that happen in the local area, but particularly at my alma mater Lancaster University. I also take part in the career mentoring scheme that Lancaster University runs, which partners a second year student with someone in a career that they hope to go into after graduating.
I love cycling and when the weather’s not good enough to ride outside, I spend a lot of time in my garage on my spin bike, connected to a virtual world in Zwift. This in no way relates to engineering but it does refresh my brain which makes me more focused at work!