Charlie is an engineering apprentice working at GSK Maidenhead. He joined the team in August 2014 and has worked in departments across the factory. We met up with him to find about a bit more about the challenges of life as an engineer and what he wants to see the profession doing in the future!
Hi Charlie, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! First of all, how would you describe engineering?
Engineering uses science and maths to find solutions to the everyday problems that you come across. Everything that can be made, and is made, is done so with engineering. To explain that a bit more, nothing is made thoughtlessly and the thought process that goes into designing and then manufacturing any product is engineering.
Engineers are really creative people. Having this creative streak gives us the freedom to explore new ideas and allows us to discover these new solutions and innovations.
What was it that drew you towards following it as a career?
Engineering has always been a subject that has really suited me. I’m quite a practical person; I like being able to make things with my hands and I enjoy being able to understand exactly how the things we use every day work.
Which aspects of engineering have you found the hardest so far?
The biggest challenge I have come across was probably the transition from working with a team as an apprentice to growing as an engineer and beginning to take on jobs myself and work independently. You do a lot of learning in this period as you are starting to make bigger decisions by yourself and you’re also taking more responsibility for the tasks that you’re doing and projects you’re working on.
How important do you think it is to communicate your work to the public?
It’s really important that engineers like myself talk about what we do and get people excited about engineering. The industry is always striving for new ideas and we need to have more fresh sets of eyes looking at some long-lasting problems.
If you could give any advice to young people thinking about following in your footsteps, would you say?
I would tell them to never stop learning. Learning isn’t something that should stop when you leave school! You will carry on learning throughout your career and there will always be new things that interest you and make you want to find more.
One of the most important aspects of engineering is collaboration, because nobody can understand everything. Engineering revolves around everyone coming together and sharing their knowledge to get the best results.
What are you most excited to see the engineers of the future working on?
I’m most excited about space travel. Aerospace engineers are really pushing the limits of what we can do and what we hope to do in the future and I’m really interested to see where they will go next.
I think chemical engineers, like those here at GSK, can also help to make some big changes and crack some of the big challenges of the future. They use their knowledge and experiences to find man-made alternatives to naturally occurring resources and chemicals, and can help move us towards a much more sustainable future.
Finally, the 2017 QEPrize was awarded to the engineers who created digital imaging sensors. What did you think of this year’s winners?
Cameras are a really important tool when it comes to engineering. For us, they’re one of our main tools in terms of monitoring equipment, allowing us to check up on parts of the manufacturing process that we wouldn’t be able to see by eye.
In my job, we use cameras every day in checks all the way through from scanning QR (quick read) codes and optical character recognition (OCR) technology, right through to pattern recognition cameras.
Any breakthroughs and new technologies have the power to inspire young people. By putting in the hard work early in your career, you could go on to make world-changing innovations and technologies and win prizes as prestigious as the QEPrize.