• Question: what would make your day (in your work).

    Asked by 655satm46 to Hollie on 8 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Hollie Heard

      Hollie Heard answered on 8 Mar 2018:

      My day is always different depending on the projects I’m working on at the time, it’s one of the reasons I love the job that I do. Every day still has some ‘normal’ things to do like emails etc., but I think the sort of things I do can be broken down into a few different categories. Firstly, I do coatings runs. In the morning when I get in I will unload my chamber that means unscrewing lots of bolts, taking out the previous sample, photographing it and writing nay comments, weighing it so I can work out how thick the coating that has been put down is and recording all the data on various spreadsheets. I also have to deal with some pretty nasty waste products that need removing. Then I have to prepare a new sample and load that into the chamber, before putting everything back together again. Then it’s flowing various gases and letting things heat up, (that take a long time as it can be up to 1000 degrees). When everything has got to the right temperature, you start flowing the gases that are going to react to produce the desired material that you want. After a certain time, everything is switched off and then allowed to cool down, (which again can take a long time), until the cycle can be repeated. Following on from the these practical trials, I also analyse the samples using lots of different techniques to check that they are what we wanted them to be and how they behave. This means I get to use some really cool sounding equipment such as scanning electron microscopes, X-ray diffractors and various other things that produce data for me to analyse. Analysing the data is another thing that I can be doing during the day, (again involving a fair few spreadsheets).

      What I also do sometimes, is help in the design and ordering of new equipment. Just recently I’ve been designing a new, bigger system for one of my processes. This also involves working with lots of other team members and suppliers and coordinating installation and delivery plans.
      I also have to do a lot of report writing, preparing presentations and posters, planning budgets and how we use resources. These things are always slightly less exciting, but equally as important as they help us to get more funding and communicate the work that we are doing to a wider audience. There’s also things like helping train staff, training myself, and an awful lot of reading! There are also a fair few days when I go out of the office and attend meetings, events and conferences, or undertake some training. Engineering is a job where you are constantly learning and developing new skills, for example on about a month I’m learning how to drive a forklift!

      As I say, my job involves lot of different things everyday whether I’m sitting at my desk, on the factory floor, or in the workshop getting my hands dirty. I’m lucky in that I get to see and be involved in all of these aspects rather than having to focus on the same thing all the time. I think the days that I enjoys the most are when I can see progress has been made, or I’ve created/built something, or when my machines are working how they should which doesn’t always happen! Even when things don’t go as planned, whilst these days are challenging, they can be just as rewarding when you manage to solve a problem or fix something.

      I hope this answers your question, if not just ask me another one!