Interview with Sarah-Jane Potts who took part in EESW in 2010-11 and was linked with Mabey Bridge. Sarah is now a Research Engineer at the Welsh Centre for Printing & Coating based at Swansea University.
Why did you decide to take part in the Engineering Education Scheme Wales?
I had always been interested in maths, science and design but was unsure of which career to go for. I decided to participate in the scheme to help me make a more informed decision when applying for a university course as well as to give my personal statement a competitive edge when applying through UCAS.
What did you enjoy most about the scheme?
Getting to experience the joys and challenges of working in an Engineering Design team. Although you can get to participate in group activities whilst at school, nothing quite compares to the dynamic, multi-skilled nature of an engineering design group. This enabled my group mates and I to highlight and utilise our skills as well as identify those that we were lacking in at the time. Not only was it enjoyably, but it also prepared me for the array of group based design projects which I have participated in during my degree and career.
What are you doing now career-wise?
Having now completed my MEng Product Design Engineering Degree top of my discipline at Swansea University in 2015, I am now participating in Swansea Universities Engineering Doctorate (EngD) scheme. My doctorate is part of Swansea Universities Materials and Manufacturing academy (M2A), where I am sponsored by an array of companies and funding bodies including WEFO, EPSRC, COATED^2, WCPC and icmPrint. My project focuses on the screen printing of functional materials and sensors, looking into producing optimised ink properties and industrial standards for screen printing printed electronics such as biosensors, RFID tags, aerials, electroluminescent products (printable lights), printed solar cells among many other modern applications.
How has the Engineering Education Scheme Wales helped you with your chosen career path?
The scheme helped me to decide that engineering was in fact the right path to take, when I was originally torn between a range of degrees. It also helped my UCAS application to stand out above others and prepare me for the projects that I have been faced with during my degree and career. As well as this, the careers events which occurred during the EESW presentations even helped me to decide which university to study at.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Most probably dealing with stress. Engineering careers are incredibly challenging and intense. However, they are also incredibly rewarding and enable you to work at the forefront of designing and developing technology.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Knowing that you are working in an industry that is helping to shape the world we live in, improving the technology that we use, providing jobs in industry as well as challenging stereotypes as a young woman in Engineering.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
To find a love of maths and science, which were subjects which I originally struggled with but after finding a passion for them, excelled in my abilities and found out just how applicable they were to real life situations.
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
“Be prepared to work your socks off to achieve your goals, it’s a challenging path but the rewards are more than worth it.”
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to become a lecturer so that I can continue to conduct research to enable technological advances which will help shape the world we live in as well as inspire and teach others with passions in Engineering.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Graduated top of my discipline with awards for the best MEng Product Design Engineering Student as well as awarded the IMechE Project award for the best level 3 dissertation in my year.
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Conscientious, passionate and ambitious