Recent Product Design Engineering graduate Rosie Hutt, now a Junior Design Engineer at Owen Mumford, talks to The Student Engineer about graduating from Liverpool John Moores University and entering into the engineering industry.
What did you study at university and what prompted you to choose that course?
I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2015 with a BSc First Class Honors in Product Design Engineering. This was a great course to set me up for working in the industry as it struck a really nice balance between product design and engineering. The course covered topics such as end-user experience and interaction, to testing the development of mechanical systems.
In what ways did your course set you up for life after graduation?
The course definitely prepared me well for my role at Owen Mumford, and challenged me in different ways. It was split into two aspects – theoretical engineering and user interface. This balance worked perfectly as I got to really consider the design behind a product and what that means to the end-user.
What were the highlights of the course?
My favourite part of my course had to be my final year project, as you get the flexibility and freedom to investigate different fields. We had to provide theoretical justification behind the design and prove it would work. The user interface side of this was the main challenge as it’s hard not to fall into designing the product for yourself; you have to think about who would use it and how it would be used.
Did you undertake a placement during your time at university?
I was able to take a placement year between years two and three during my course. This opportunity provided me with invaluable experience and gave me a good foundation for post-graduate work.
Who did you work for, and what did you take from the experience?
I worked for a company called heightec – a specialist in equipment for working at height. As the design department of the team was small, this allowed me to experience many aspects of the development of the design, from conceptual and prototyping, to final testing and branding of the products. heightec gave me a great amount of support which boosted my confidence going into full-time work.
Graduation can be quite daunting, so how was it for you?
After graduating, I was approached by a recruitment company who thought I may be interested in the role of Junior Design Engineer at Owen Mumford. I was excited at the prospect of working for a company in the medical industry, due to the high level of precision and detail required in developing medical devices. After researching Owen Mumford, a step in the direction of medical engineering seemed the right fit for me. Although heightec and Owen Mumford are quite different, there are certainly transferable skills that I picked up, particularly ones that are heavily regulated due to personal health and safety aspects.
How did you go about preparing your application to join Owen Mumford?
When applying for the role at Owen Mumford, I prepared a CV and portfolio to display both my technical and creative ability. I used my final year project to best illustrate this – an ‘eco flow’ kettle. On the back of a statistic that only 26 per cent of people use the volume gauge on a kettle I wanted to improve a kettle’s ability and make it more efficient. I wrote a thesis on this, which looked heavily into the user interface – something I knew would be key in my role at Owen Mumford. The university was great at supporting me with writing my CV and they offered days of training for a variety of different aspects to help with applying for jobs once I’d graduated.
Having the ability to show a portfolio of work during my interview was a great opportunity for me to explain the process I went through to achieve final products, as this is an element the company were hugely interested in.
What does your typical day – if such a thing exists – entail?
In my role as a Junior Design Engineer at Owen Mumford I have an extremely varied working day. Some days can mainly focus on conceptual work, which then leads into development, often requiring creating CAD models, which can then be turned into prototypes for proof of principles. On the other hand, other days require more analytical work, completing design failure mode and effects analysis, and testing.
How is Owen Mumford nurturing your talent?
Owen Mumford is very supportive and I am soon to receive some training so that I can complete Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Models, which will help with taking the development of ideas into more detail. Owen Mumford allocates time for personal development, which as a graduate I think is very important. University provides students with a broad understanding of the design engineering world; however it requires real experience and support to develop into a specific industry, especially the medical industry.
Any tips for engineering graduates looking for their first role in industry?
For other engineering students, I would advise them to be confident in their ideas. I have often struggled with this however, especially since my placement and working here, it has become clearer that it is key to speak out when you have an idea. At Owen Mumford there is such a wealth of knowledge and talented people who support and advise you, and what you think is a small idea can soon escalate to create a feasible, well thought out and researched concept.
Finally, where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’d like to think that in 5 years time I will still be at Owen Mumford, passing the knowledge I have gleaned from my experience on to new graduates. With the UK having the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10 per cent, I also hope to promote the profession to other aspiring female engineering graduates.