As such, Primary Layout Engineer, James Adshead was invited by our industry partner, the IET, to share with them an insight into his journey so far, plus any advice he would give those looking for their first role in engineering.

Read his full interview with the IET below:

Hi James! Tell us… What inspired you to become an engineer?

I had an interest in STEM subjects when I was in High School and wanted to develop my knowledge of these subjects as I progressed through my educational career.

During my time studying for A-Levels I participated in the Engineering Education Scheme, partnering with Ansaldo to complete a project as a team, which included undertaking research into a field of engineering I had never seen before. As a team we obtained the Gold Award for our project.

It was my experience participating in this project that inspired me to undertake a career in STEM.

On the completion of my A-Levels I started an Apprenticeship with my current employer, Morson Projects, as a Design & Draughting Apprentice.

I had completed a very basic overview of the power network during my studies at school, and this was an opportunity to become an expert in that field.

Can you describe your career in engineering so far?

I started my Apprenticeship in June 2017 with Morson Projects, initially within our Protection & Control Department learning the basics of draughting and the basics of Protection & Control Design for Local District Network Operators in the Power Transmission & Distribution sector. Working within an Engineering Consultancy it meant I was exposed to a variety of projects as opposed to working on one specific problem.

Alongside my professional learning I also worked towards an HNC/D in Electrical & Electronic Engineering part time at Wigan & Leigh College.

During this period, I grew significantly as an engineer, from learning the basics of design and project process to transitioning into the Primary Design Team.

After contuing to work whilst completing my Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Power) at University of Central Lancashire, I then progressed into my current role of Primary Layout Engineer, and I am currently working on several major projects for a variety of clients.

What has been your biggest success in your career?

Completing my Engineering in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Power) degree with a First whilst studying part-time alongside my training in the workplace was a massive success in my career.

Transitioning to a Primary Layout Engineer is also a big success, being supported to take on the challenges that this posed and being able to deal with them effectively.

What has been your biggest challenge in your career?

There was a challenging period where I was having to balance revision and educational studies with my professional studies. I was researching and creating mechanical forces calculation documents, whilst also ensuring I was maintaining an effective level of study to do well in my exams.

Are there any exciting projects you are currently working on?

I have worked on a variety of projects throughout my career so far. I have been to substations all over the country to complete anything from singular item plant replacements to full bay additions within substations.

A project of note was the recent replacement of an HVDC (High-Voltage, Direct Current) Converter Transformer at Sellindge 400kV Substation, supporting the operation of the HVDC Cross Channel interconnector between the UK and France.

How has your IET Membership helped you in your career so far?

I have been able to attend IET-organised courses such as the Distributed Generation technical course covering different aspects of Distributed Generation from Windfarms to Solar Generation.

This course helped me familiarise myself with Grid Codes, regulatory compliance, and other relevant standards. This helped me expand my knowledge from industry experts and take it back into the workplace.

Do you have any advice for those looking for their first role in engineering and technology?

If someone is still in school, I would recommend in their school holidays to try and gain as much valuable work experience as possible, just a day or two at an engineering or technology business offers a critical insight into the industry and requirements for someone looking to obtain their first role in engineering. Reach out to local businesses, such as Morson Projects where I am employed, there are always opportunities to come in and see the operation of different roles across the industry.

If you are later in your educational career, take advantage of things such as the Engineering Education Scheme at your college or any placements your college/ university offer. These are invaluable experiences not just personally but also professionally.

What does the future look like for you?

I have recently started the first steps in the Chartership process with the IET, as I am now exposed to a higher responsibility role and would like to validate my existing skillset as an engineer.

I wish to continue to grow my capabilities alongside the expansion of the Primary Team to be able to deliver increasingly complex and larger scale projects.