***Editor’s Note: The “I Became an Engineer” blog runs every Friday. To share your story email firstname.lastname@example.org***
This week’s story comes from ECN reader Robert Webber, field applications engineer, Harwin plc.
Back when I was a kid, my favorite subject in school was math. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a propensity for it, and gained enjoyment from figuring things out.
Throughout my schooling, I had a strong interest in things like pneumatics, mechanics, and the technology of movement in general. In fact, right through my teens, my ambition was to be an aerodynamics engineer for a leading F1 team. My mathematics teacher at school, Mr. Banks, would end up having a major influence on me and, though it was not obvious at that time, the career path I would eventually take.
Mr. Banks was an incredibly stern character and often downright frightening. I was in the top math set in my year and he set very high benchmarks. If we failed to get an A grade for our homework, he would make us redo it. We thought of him as an imposing character, and were to an extent intimidated by him. Though, in reality, he just had expectations for us to live up to our true potential—he wanted us to do the best that we possibly could. The effort we would put in, thanks to his persistence, really paid off in the end. Twenty of us out a class of 30 got an A* grade at GSCE (the qualifications that U.K. pupils take at the age of 16).
At college, I decided to study A level electronics alongside mathematics. In tandem with that, I also did English and drama. Though it may have seemed an odd combination to many people at the time, I think this was pivotal in me developing a creative element, being confident when doing presentations, and communicating effectively with people that would serve me well in later vocations. Combining art and technology disciplines, through STEAM-based learning programs, is becoming very popular today. It assists students with problem solving by looking at things from different perspectives, and basically forms more well-rounded individuals.
Though I had loved the artistic side of my education, just before turning 18 I decided to concentrate more heavily on the technology aspect. My judgement was that this was where I had real ability and where the prospects were greater. I enrolled at the University of Surrey to do a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering. I did have the option to take mathematics as a degree, but I was unsure about which direction that would take my career. I wanted to make sure I was more hands-on and had a clear direction of where I was headed.
Honestly, I don’t want to imply that I was a model student (far from it!), but I dove fully into the studying process. I enjoyed being able to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular subject area, and get comfortable with all its particular nuances. When needed, I would be up until the early hours of the morning trying to fathom things out, fully absorbed in the endeavor. In fact, I quite miss those up all night, 100 percent focused and dedicated moments of my life, just to learn technical subjects.
After graduating I was recruited by Sony and worked in the TV design, manufacturing, and testing department as an RF engineer. I then had the opportunity to relocate to Sony’s production site just outside Barcelona…and frankly who would turn that down?
Five years later, I returned to the U.K. and, after working at a small, very hands-on and varied design engineering company, I am now at connector and board level hardware company Harwin in a field applications engineer role. It is a great feeling to resolve problems on a daily basis, and apply my past experience to new challenges.
In conclusion, being an engineer is an amazing thing. Look around you right now and try to spot something that engineering isn’t directly accountable for. Wherever you are—in the office, your home, even in a park—everything relies on some form of engineering. This spans all the way from the flat-pack Swedish furniture and the electric lighting, to the HVAC climate control system. The machinery used to keep our gardens tidy, the supply chain that provides us with groceries, and the utility infrastructure that supplies gas and water simply wouldn’t be there without it. Though it is almost an unspoken secret of our society, there is no doubt that it is engineers who effectively decide how the modern world works, much more so than politicians or business people—and being part of that matters a lot to me.
Read other stories, here:
- A Note From The Editor: An Engineer’s Story
- I Became An Engineer: Despite Being Bad At Math
- I Became An Engineer: So I Wouldn’t Have To Go To Vietnam
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Sci-Fi Novels
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Watch
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A 1930s Vintage Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Kept Asking “Why?”
- I Became An Engineer: By Studying The Fundamentals
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Microscope Modifications
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Drew A Flower
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Paperback Book On Electricity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Wanted To Travel
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Tinkered With A Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Math, Science, And Serendipity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Loved Discovery And Fixing Things
- I Became an Engineer: Because It Was Hot That Day
- I Became an Engineer: Because of Viktor Frankl and Existentialism
- I Became an Engineer: By Turning Curiosity into a Career
- I Became an Engineer: Because of the Air Force Technical Applications Center
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Went to Work with My Dad
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Always Knew I Would Be One
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Was Always Trying to Fix Things