Andrew D.

Senior Engineer - System Safety
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Andrew D.
Electronics
Electronic Engineering
Taught Postgraduate
Goodricke
2006
United Kingdom

My employment

Senior Engineer - System Safety
Ceres
United Kingdom
Engineering and manufacturing
Large business (250+ employees)
2008

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A day in the life of a Senior Engineer - System Safety in the United Kingdom

Get stuck into something which motivates you and just keep plugging away at the search little by little.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

Ceres is a leader in the electrochemical technology sector, enabling the world’s most progressive companies to deliver clean energy solutions at scale and at speed

What do you do?

I develop and manage safety cases for fuel cell and electrolyser products and demonstration systems, working with a cross functional team of engineers to ensure the technology we develop doesn't just work well but also safely.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

When I graduated I took a gap year and taught in West Africa. Two years later, when I eventually returned to the UK, I started searching for graduate jobs in electronics and/or software engineering. I was eventually hired as a control engineer at Ceres, a relatively small start-up at the time. After several years and a lot of change in the business, I found myself gravitating towards Systems Engineering (requirements management) and eventually Systems Safety Engineering, at which point I headed back to York part-time to do a PGCert in that discipline with the Dept. of Comp. Sci.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

My initial role as a Control Engineer was completely unexpected as I did not take the Controls module in my degree (due to doing a MusTech specialism), but the recruitment agency and my hiring manager didn't see this as a barrier and assured me the role was much broader than one single module of a degree. My subsequent moves into Systems Engineering and the related discipline of Systems Safety have given me much broader interdisciplinary experience which, on reflection, was always where I was strongest as I never really clicked with the hardcore electronics content of my degree.

Describe your most memorable day at work

One of my most memorable days would be the commissioning and handover of one of our field trial CHP systems, installed in our CEO's house. This was a project I had put a lot of effort into and been personally responsible for getting the safety case signed off (including third party approval as a domestic gas appliance), and now, with all of my hard work complete, we were installing these systems in employee homes for a sheltered field trial. To see one of them installed and now generating electricity in our boss's house was a proud moment. I was also able to talk him through the operating manual and the user interface display screen, both of which I'd been heavily involved in creating, so it really felt like my baby which I was showing off.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

Whilst studying I was very active in the Christian Union, holding several posts with responsibilities for leading and coordinating study groups etc. I also played in several bands. I presented a radio show on URY involving regular guests to perform live music on air. I also worked for the university Audio Visual Services Department during some vacations. All of these activities were significant in developing my ability to communicate with a broad range of people and learn how to manage my time well to fulfil my responsibilities to others.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Don't worry! Just do something which is stimulating, whether or not you can get paid for it. But don't think that the right path will find you, you will need to put in time and effort to get a good job - and it can take a long time. In the meantime, get stuck into something which motivates you and just keep plugging away at the search little by little. Don't be afraid to do a gap year - there's plenty of places you could help right now and there will always be employers who will see the benefit in it. It won't harm your chances of a good job afterwards, and those employers for whom it would are probably not the sort you really want to work for anyway!

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Ask me about anything you like, I'm happy to help!

Next steps...

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