Case study

Design engineer — Henry

Henry used his networking skills to get a job in engineering and now enjoys the diversity in his role

How did you get your job?

After school I decided that my area of interest and skills were in engineering but I had no idea of what kind. I then decided to study a BTEC Diploma in Aerospace Engineering at college, which was a mix of theory and practical work.

After finishing college I got a job working as a junior structural engineer and it made me realise I enjoyed the theory and analytical side of the work more. I then obtained a BEng in Aerospace Engineering at the University of the West of England, giving me qualifications and fundamental analytical skills.

After graduating from university I applied to many different engineering sectors. As well as applying online, I realised that networking was another really important way to get a job. I approached a contact in the water softening industry and managed to secure an interview, and was then offered a job at Harvey Water Softeners.

This career is ideal for people with both theory and practical skills, and a real passion in engineering

How relevant is your degree to your job?

It's very relevant. My BEng degree gave me a broad knowledge of the different areas that any engineering industry requires.

The modules within my degree that have been most relevant to my work have been fluid dynamics, engineering mathematics, materials and manufacturing.

The fundamental working function of our products is flow rate and pressure dependent, therefore an understanding of fluid dynamics has been crucial.

In my interview I was asked about plastic materials and manufacturing processes so having that knowledge, particularly injection moulding, was key for me.

What are your main work activities?

I now currently work in the research and development engineering team. We hold weekly team discussions on ideas and concepts and then carry out the relevant detailed designing in CAD. We then work with the in-house machinists to produce a prototype design and we use in-house and external 3D printing machines to produce fast and intricate prototype parts.

Testing the prototype parts is then a major piece of the development process, monitoring and creating tests relevant to each bit.

How has your role developed?

I first had to work on our existing water softeners and really understand the way in which a water softener works and is manufactured and assembled. I had to get onsite experience, find out how and where a water softener is plumbed in and understand the different conditions and systems in which it may be used.

My role has developed from creating small design and CAD changes on our existing products, to creating brand new designs in our research and development department. My work is now more concept and ideas based, as well as detailed design work. I hope to continue to make new and interesting products in the water industry.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like the diversity of the role; the different aspects keep it interesting. I enjoy designing, especially in the concept stage of new products.

I also like being part of an engineering team and being able to continue to learn new engineering skills and industry knowledge from my colleagues.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Turning an idea into a working prototype, and designing around all the different eventualities the product will be subject to.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

This is an interesting area to work in because of the diversity of the engineering involved. If you are particularly interested in fluid dynamics, chemistry, or manufacturing, the industry can offer some real exciting and challenging work.

This career is ideal for people with both theory and practical skills, and a real passion in engineering.

Find out more

Discover available opportunities at Harvey Water Softeners.