What first sparked your interest in STEM subjects?
From a very young age I’ve always had an inquisitive mind, I have always been curious about how things work. The interest was further peaked in high school when I studied Design and Technology: Electronics, I was drawn by the prospects of what can be achieved and how many simple day-to-day tasks could possibly one day become automated. In addition to this, being a natural problem solver, I was taken in by maths, mechanics was my favourite part of maths, which posed real problems that needed to take into account the forces of nature such as; gravity and friction when making calculations.
What STEM subject is your favourite and why?
My favourite subject has to be technology. Although I’m in the engineering field, I feel technology is at the forefront of engineering advancements as a quite a lot of engineering projects involve technology in order to be successful. It is quite easy to get confused between the two though. Technology is the capability given by practical application of knowledge. Engineering is the application of scientific methods to solve problems. So with this in mind, we can say technology describes the product of engineering.
What educational path did you take?
I went to college to study A Levels in Maths, Physics, Design and Technology: Electronics and Business studies. Following my STEM passion, I then went to Anglia Ruskin University to study BEng Electronics, which included a lot of Maths and Physics. I then undertook a master’s degree at De Montfort University in Leicester, an MSc Mechatronics which again was heavily focused on Maths and Physics.
Why should more people study STEM subjects? What opportunities are available?
People should study STEM subject because this is the future. We are living in a world that’s constantly evolving from ‘manual’ to ‘automatic’, in technological terms we’d say we are living in a world that’s vastly becoming digitalised. In addition to keeping up with the evolution, they are rather interesting subjects and can open your mind to unimaginable possibilities. A vast amount of jobs are now are being automated, meaning the human aspect of it is becoming redundant, especially with the introduction and development of ‘the internet of things’, driverless cars and trains.
There’s many opportunities available with STEM subjects as they are now becoming the foundation of what the future is being built on. With the rate of development of the digital world, there is a high demand for people with STEM subjects so finding employment won’t be much of an issue at all.
Tell me some of your career highlights – what have been your proudest moments?
In my academic career, my proudest moment has to be the successful completion of the master’s degree. My background has always been electronics, but this course included software, mechanical, robotics, design and business which were all new to me. So to overcome this challenge and get a grasp of it all, for someone with a purely electronics background, was quite an achievement. In my career so far, my proudest moment is the completions of the ‘preliminary design and planning’ stage of the Abertillery new branch line project in Wales. Working with two other graduates we were asked to produce a plan for a new branch line from Aberbeeg Junction to Abertillery. Despite none of us having railway experience we were able to successfully gather the necessary information about what permits would be required and provide information on relevant railway standards for the work. Our work impressed those managing the project and exceeded their expectations.
What would the world be like without STEM?
I truly believe that without STEM, the world would still be in the stone age. Everything we see today, from our clothing, to our electronics, to buildings and infrastructure, all stems from STEM (pardon the pun).
If someone was considering following your career path, what one piece of advice would you give them?
I’d advise them to be open minded and give 100% to every subject whether they are fond of it or not. Although I’m a fan of mechanic maths, I wasn’t a fan of pure maths and that nearly derailed my career path. I’d advise them to focus mostly on physics and maths as these two are the building blocks of any engineering field and opens up your options. So whatever subject you dislike, don’t completely dismiss it, put a little effort in to understanding the subject as it may well prevent it becoming as tumbling block to an otherwise fulfilling career in the world of STEM.
STEM is not easy, you need to be dedicated and you need to focus. You need to understand the basics and the methods. If you do this, then will be successful, overcome challenges and you will go far in your career.