My dad was a physicist and then a computer programmer, right from the early days when computers used punched cards and big levers. He brought me up thinking about the world in a scientific way and I learned to love it!
I put serious consideration into trying to become an actor after 6th form, but I decided I liked the idea of finding out the way the universe works more.
I studied Physics myself at university and learned so REALLY cool things, but I never felt like going on to become a researcher. I left and got my first job at the National Physical Laboratory (where they work out precisely what a kilogram is and keep an eye on how much the planet is slowing down) and got into my area of engineering from there.
I still get to think scientifically and enjoy all the wonders of the way the world works, but I also get to build things!
When I was in 6th form I wanted to have a career in special effects for film and television. This is producing things like weather effects, fire effect, animatronics (essentially moving sculptures) in the physical sense rather than virtual effects that are done by a computer. There are 2 options for going into this line of work – art and engineering. I chose engineering as it offered a lot more “plan B” work opportunities if my special effects career didn’t take off. The more I studied engineering the more I enjoyed it!
I found engineering interesting and inspiring, and I think that’s really important when choosing a career. I really enjoyed doing science, maths and technology at school, and engineering really mixes all three of them together into one job. You use the skills from these subjects to create something that has a real effect on the world, from designing the latest mobile phone or games console to putting things up into space!
I had some older friends who were engineers, and even though I wasn’t quite sure about what they did, i reckoned it sounded really fun and they got to design and play with gadgets and decided i wanted to do the same thing. When i found out more, i realized you can make good money from it, it’s a well-respected job, and even after you start in case you don’t like your particular job, if you stick with it a few years you can move to a different company, or go on a different project, and get excited again. Opens up a lot of opportunities.