How did you get into your job?
As a child, I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked, and then rebuilding them in the hope that they would still work. I would often spend hours in our shed building strange contraptions. However, at the time I wasn't aware that this was engineering and a possible career choice, and so after leaving school my life took a different path.
As a young adult, I tried my hand at a variety of jobs, searching for something that appealed to me. After a few years I came to the realisation that what I enjoyed most in these roles was fixing something that was broken and finding new ways to improve the tools and processes. What I wanted was a job that would allow me to do this every day, but I would need an education to achieve it. This drove my decision to go to university in my late twenties to study Mechanical Engineering and eventually lead me to the graduate scheme in RAL Space.What is your role?
I work as a Mechanical Engineer for projects to design and build space flight science instruments. My role within a project is to design, analyse and test the mechanical structures, ensuring that the design meets the requirements. These requirements are typically to make it as light as possible, while still being strong enough to survive the harsh environments of a rocket launch and the cold vacuum of space. Engineering is often about finding a compromise between conflicting interests.
I must also work in a team with lots of other engineering disciplines to bring their requirements into the mechanical hardware. The mechanical hardware is often there to contain or support equipment such as electronics or cameras. So when friends and family ask me what I make, I say “boxes and brackets, but very good ones".
What's the best thing about your job?
I enjoy the variation of my role. I get to follow a project through from the design stage, to conducting structural analysis, procuring the parts, assisting with the build and finally the environmental tests. I also like the job satisfaction I receive when seeing the finished item that we have worked hard as a team to produce.
Why is it important you do what you do?
As an engineer, I am an enabler. I help scientists realise their goal, and it is always nice to help others.
What advice would you give to people looking for a job in your industry?
To show a passion for your work. Admit to your own failings and try to improve yourself continually. Take advice wherever you can, as you never stop learning in this job.
Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self now?
To have more confidence in yourself.
1985- The year I lived in Zimbabwe. Here I am in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) riding a wooden bike - from an engineering point of view I like the unusual use of material to make a bicycle!
1996- The year of my sixth form ball
2006- The year I got married
2016- The year I conducted vibration tests on the Broad Band Radiometer (BBR) for ESA's EarthCARE mission. BBR was my first project after graduation!
2018- The year WE delivered BBR