Graduate profile: packaging specialist ensures moreish morsels

Matt Holmes talks to Student Engineer about life as a graduate engineer at Lorien Engineering Solutions and a recent placement at McVities that helped to keep biscuits the safe side of crunchy.

Matt Holmes, project engineer, Lorien Engineering Solutions

Matt Holmes is a project engineer at Burton-based engineering design and project management firm Lorien Engineering Solutions. He graduated from Bradford University 2015 with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He joined Lorien later the same year and specialises in packaging engineering. Most recently he has been on placement with McVities, part of Pladis, in Harlesden, London.

What do you like most about being an engineer?
I’m fascinated by solving problems, it’s all about having a scientific mindset.

What attracted you to a career in engineering and to Lorien?
I was attracted to my current role by the diversity of projects that you get to work on. As a graduate you don’t necessarily realise the sheer scope of engineering work from planning and budgeting through to implementation.

What is your typical day like?
No two days are the same. Usually I’ll be working with my colleagues at Pladis on projects, defining their scope, approaching suppliers for equipment, installation, making sure machines work and ensuring that KPIs are met.

Tell us about an interesting project you’ve been working on recently
I have been working with Pladis for more than six months, helping them to investigate and study improvements and automation at the manufacturing site in Harlesden. As a business, Lorien specialises in engineering projects for the food and drink industry and we have developed an excellent relationship with Pladis. My work has been wide ranging from metal detectors and raw ingredient siloes through to working with the local council on planning applications. Recently I was closely involved in the installation of an Ishida Checkweigher and Safeline metal detector which ensures that no metal can be present in Rich Tea biscuits. Every factory has critical control points and we make sure there is zero chance of any metal.

What’s your favourite thing about working for Lorien?
Being a part of the whole project life cycle: defining requirements, talking to suppliers, comparing costs, putting together schedules and installing machinery. Playing a role in that process is highly satisfying.

Do you think more needs to be done to encourage young people into careers in engineering?
My influence has come from family links. Having said that, we have good facilities in the UK to encourage people into engineering as a career. There is so much variety when it comes to applying for apprenticeships and degrees. What I would say is that there is a big difference between studying and working – a big step up is required in terms of professionalism.

What advice would you give to young people wanting to pursue a career in engineering?
Choose your A-levels carefully. Make sure you include maths and a science. You will get lots of opportunities to travel but it will be hard work so make sure you are committed. Contact local companies to see if they will give you permission to shadow an engineer. Be pro-active.