Electronics engineer Vahé, who works for consortium company Rinicom, shares his inspirational story below. Read on to discover his route into electronic engineering.
There I’d be, sat on the floor playing with LEGO, and someone would crouch down beside me and say “you’ll be an engineer one day!”, before pinching my cheek, messing up my hair and then standing back up to continue their conversation with my parents. This was a somewhat common occurrence during my early childhood, but it wasn’t until around twenty years later that this made sense to me.
I don’t come from an engineering lineage, so asking my family what an engineer does would prompt a vague response along the lines of “Well, they design things… everything! You’d be good at it- you like making things”. Today’s smartphone generation might suggest simply ‘Googling’ it, but at this point in time Google hadn’t yet been invented and mobile phones didn’t have colour screens, let alone internet access.
I understood that I had to work really hard at school and get good grades if I wanted to be an engineer, but I didn’t enjoy school. In fact I was far from a model student. I struggled to concentrate and lacked application in all but the subjects I was interested in: science and technology. I really enjoyed the practical aspect of these subjects and was particularly fond of woodworking.
I left school and went to Lancaster & Morecambe College to study bench joinery, and soon found an apprenticeship at a nearby workshop. Towards the end of my apprenticeship, and out of the blue, I experienced a spell of bad health and was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy. This meant that I had to leave my apprenticeship and that my chosen career path was no longer feasible. I found this difficult to accept and it took me a while to come to terms with it, but with the support of my family I soon managed to focus my efforts on finding a new career.
My route into an engineering career
I cast my mind back to what everyone used to say about me and engineering… I did enjoy science, I did love to design things, just now I wasn’t able to make them. With this in mind, I enrolled on an Engineering Access Course at the University of Bolton; soon to be ground zero for my new career. I began to learn what engineers actually do, more importantly how they did it. Suddenly it all started to make sense. I found the electronics module fascinating- so much so that I stayed on to study Electronic Engineering at HND and then bachelor’s level before ultimately moving to Lancaster University for my master’s. My undergraduate courses had considerable practical content, and I spent much of my free time in the lab too. This helped me gain a deeper understanding out of the gate than most traditional courses which have little to no lab time. My practical lab experience coupled with transferable skills from my apprenticeship helped me immensely out of university in securing my first role as a design engineer, and I still use many of those skills today whether designing, testing or fault-finding.
My journey into engineering was not a clear-cut path, nor was it easy, or even remotely obvious to me, but when I eventually got there I instantly knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be. My epilepsy has now been under control for many years, and I’m once again able to work with power tools- something that I routinely enjoy doing in my spare time. Some say it was fate that brought me back to engineering- I don’t know about that, but it is fair to say that I had already slipped through the net. I wonder how many others slipped through the net and have yet to be recaptured?
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