I was offered a place on two other grad programmes, but found they were really restrictive. On Network Rail’s IMechE-accredited programme, I knew I’d get to experience a huge variety of modules in different areas – great for my long-term career. It’s a really structured, hands-on 18-month programme, covering everything from maintenance and design to finance and management. I’m currently going through the ATOC scheme, which offers formal accreditation. At the end of it, I’ll be able to spend two years gaining the experience that will allow me to become a Chartered Engineer. For me, it’s been a very quick route in.
I am currently working on DBSO (Driving Brake Standard Open) vehicles in a conversion project to make them suitable for use with Network Rail’s infrastructure monitoring vehicles. It has involved designing mechanical aspects of an On Train Monitor Recorder unit (much like a plane’s Black Box), which has been both exciting and challenging. After completing 3D CAD models and analysing the designs, I produced three sets of drawings – detailed, assembly and installation – which were then passed to the Project Engineer for checking, sign off, and then manufacture. It was a great feeling to see my designs develop from an initial concept to a manufactured and installed item.
Through self-selected placements (where I wasn’t just shadowing – I was actually doing) I’ve gained real perspective. It’s about looking at every aspect of a project and working out wider business implications. And, whilst the learning curve’s been steep, I’ve had great support. It’s really allowed me to use, and build on, what I learned at uni which has been very satisfying.