Case Study: Jack Haworth
“Once I actually understood engineering … I thought it’s like a perfect mix of practicality and theory. What you are learning, you can see it applied to real life applications.”
A different route into engineering
Jack always wanted to become electrician, an engineer and to have a degree. His route into engineering is very different than the majority of other graduates and he is passionate about raising awareness of different routes into engineering.
During 6th form Jack studied English literature, history and business however and soon realised that that wasn’t working for him. As soon as he finished school he applied for an electrical engineering apprenticeship at TSP Engineering in Workington.
Jack did a Higher National Certificate (HNC) and a Higher National Diploma (HND) in electrical and electronic engineering, and then a degree in electrical plant engineering.
“I wanted to get involved in this podcast and try to inspire people and make people more aware of the different routes that you can take to become an engineer and the different careers within engineering.”
From this point onwards he applied to the Sellafield graduate scheme where according to him opportunities were endless.
“It’s probably like the best thing I could have done because I’ve worked on the tools and I’ve worked on the things that other people have designed, and then you kind of like get an idea of, say, like how things could be done better.”
His engineering apprenticeship made him observant and having hands-on experience of equipment allows him to think about how to make components more accessible, easier to work on or fix. With 8 years of hands-on experience Jack hopes that he will soon become a chartered engineer.
Robots on Extreme environments
Jack is currently working for the Robotics and Extreme Environments Lab run by the University of Manchester in collaboration with Sellafield. He collaborates with his colleagues designing robots that can work in extreme environments that are dangerous for humans. He is particular proud of two of these robots: Carma and Mirrax.
Carma has been designed to inspect outdoors areas for radiation and its currently being fitted with a GPS sensor to map the environment around. This is based on a LIDAR sensor as Jack explains:
“A LIDAR sensor is method for measuring distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring their reflection with the sensor and so the time differences in the returned laser allows to build up a map of the environment… so this this robot is deployed around legacy areas of Sellafield to be able to declassify them so that you know that the clear of radiation”.
Mirrax is a 3 legged autonomous robot which runs on a little roller wheels and it only 150 mm wide so it can squeeze in small areas of nuclear cells which are highly radioactive. Mirax also used LIDAR sensors to map its surroundings:
“It’s got a middle arm that lifts up and on this arm is a LIDAR sensor and a gamma radiation sensor and this can also tilt, so this allows the 2D Lidar to build up a 3D map of the environment so that we can work towards knowing exactly what’s in there and help to navigate the robot around the cell… It’s also picking up the radiation hotspots within the cell to then end with, uh, hopefully decommissioning the cell after this.”
To help develop these robots, Jack learned 3D-CAD and electronics:
There are a lot of electronics and stuff that needs to get in there, so I’ve been designing and 3D printing components to hold things in place and building stuff up so that the robot is more robust.
Working on a nuclear site
Jack works at Sellafield which is one of the few places in the country that handles nuclear waste. The general public still has a very apprehensive perception of nuclear energy and the safety of nuclear sites. According to Jack once you learn the science and you understand the safety protocols you actually feel safe.
“If you follow the rules, which there is a lot of rules and there’s a lot of safety in place, which sometimes people could say it’s maybe a bit over the top, but you can understand why it’s there and the purpose of it. Sometimes a lot more difficult to actually get things done, but I really enjoy it!”
Engineering skillsets and following dreams
Jack believes that in addition to having hands-on experience of equipment, engineers should be good team players as no one knows everything:
“Always look at how you can make things better or better ways of doing stuff… I think you’ve got to be good at solving problems and sometimes to solve problems, you’ve got a be creative. You’ve got to be able to think outside the box, but also be able to apply engineering theories to your problems”
Jack is also a strong advocate about different routes into engineering such as apprenticeships.
“When I started my apprenticeship, there was people starting it who were 24 years old. You’re never too late to change and do what you want to do, like what’s going to make you happy… People put a lot of pressure on themselves thinking like, oh, I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or what people expect me to do. Try and be open to all things like I was.”
Case Study: Larissa Suzuki
“I think there are lot of transferability in skills from one area to another, and that is why I find engineering a very exciting career because we can be curious and inventive at all times.”
Music and engineering
Larissa grew up in São Paulo in Brazil, and since the age of 5, she knew that she wanted to be an engineer. She recalls that her family and friends had to stop giving her electronics as gifts (like radios and TV’s) because she would pull them apart to understand how they worked.
Engineering was very natural path to me. I did a degree in computer science because I wanted to do engineering I could control data and get things to do what I wanted them to do.
Her parents were not keen in having a female engineer in the house and encouraged her to study music instead. Determined to go to university, Larissa had to work in industry all the time to help fund her studies. She did a degree in Electrical Engineering where she was the only woman in her class.
Designing smarter cities
Larissa believes that being collaborative and sharing data will enhance the quality of life of people living in smart cities.
When we design cities we need to make sure that we don’t design them to fit just a small proportion of the population we have to build a city that mirrors society. If we have a lot of senior citizens living in a city we have to create technology that is understandable by them and we also need to cater services to those people. A one size fits all approach will never work!
According to her a smart city is as city where citizens are provided with everything they need at the time they need and where they need it: a good and fair cost transport system, affordable housing, affordable energy and water supply and fair access to internet and mobile signal amongst others.
To understand how important sharing data is Larissa talks about the current pandemic and how hospitals in London should invest in sharing data regarding the number of available beds for covid patients.
If you have data and that data is processed by machines in real time, we can predict the likelihood of having beds available in hospital x at time y and then we can better plan for your citizens.
Larissa believes that more needs doing to fight stereotypes and increase the diversity of people working in computer science and engineering:
We need to demystify that idea that computer science is a very isolated career. This is not true! You have to be very collaborative… Engineering is a great career option for any type of person. If you can’t see blood you can still help to cure cancer!
She also mentions the amazing women who contributed to advancements in computer science and are often “erased from history”:
Things like Bluetooth, Wifi, AI and programming have been strongly influenced by the work of Ada Lovelace . The first person to create a compiler that would allow us to use natural language to programme a computer was also a female pioneer.
There are several benefits of having a diverse team working collaboratively: creating better products with a better fit. Self-regulating people who think from different perspectives and different angles so a team can scrutinise a product and make it better for the user. Diversity is very important in fields such Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
I truly believe that we are inventors, we create and invent things and that is one of the hardest jobs that we have: to have the creativity to create something that has never been; is a very powerful statement!
Recognitions and prizes
Larissa is neuro divergent and over the past few years has won several Recognitions and awards linked with her career. She was awarded the Engineer of the Year 2021 award by the Engineering Talents Awards and was a finalist for the Women in Science and Technology WISE Awards in 2018. You can find more about Larissa here.
Case Study: Joshua Macabuag
“You are always learning and you are always challenging your levels of knowledge … engineering is so intertwined with the people that you are working with and the communities that you are working with …”
When Joshua was growing up he always had a desire to be useful, to help others. He enjoyed maths and physics and was the first one on his family to go past their GCSEs. Like many young people he was not sure what step to take next but he decided to try university.
“I was felling my own way, coming from a generation where we could go from GCSE to A-Levels to University, that was a bit of an experiment. I really enjoyed university!”
He doesn’t recall having many role models when growing up except his father who was a car mechanics. The practical approach and working on physical projects which naturally happens in car mechanics quickly became engrained on him.
According to Joshua, one of the key drivers of engineering is that final physical output:
“That is a real life impact that is what kept me in engineering, engineering for me is having a real world impact”
He also volunteered for a year in rural South Africa. That year was an eye-opener for him as he saw how engineering is crucial to improve the lives of many people by building roads, buildings and other infrastructures.
Disaster risk Engineering
Joshua is a disaster risk engineer, meaning that he uses mathematical models to try to predict how often natural disasters such as hurricanes or tsunamis can occur and how likely these natural phenomena are to damage buildings and affect local populations.
It about making informed decisions in case of uncertainty: you can’t get information about every single building a city so you have to make assumptions and make decisions based on those assumptions.
The damage that earthquakes and hurricanes do to buildings is very different as Joshua explains:
During an earthquake, as the ground shakes, the building also wants to shake due to its inertia. And the movement of the building and its own weight is what causes the force that then breaks the structure and collapses.
A hurricane is very different. It has very strong winds so you have an external force applying to your building and that force will try to lift up the roof, for example. As the wind passes through your structure it causes an uplift force. The air can get quickly trapped inside of the building which creates a pressurisation that leads to an outwards force that can be strong enough to lift the entire roof or tiles.
Joshua runs his models for the world bank which uses his predictions to lend money to countries to improve poverty.
Finding a way or make one
Josh is also a search and rescue engineer for SARAID which is a group of volunteers that helps finding people trapped in collapsed buildings. Their moto is “Finding a way or make one”. Josh needs to be observant and resilient as this is a difficult task.
If there is anybody trapped inside of the collapsed building you’ll have minutes to decide the best way to access and extricate those people. You don’t really have anything other than what you can see with your eyes.
So for Josh is all about get as much information as possible:
The first thoughts are is there any big beams inside and where are they likely to be and what did that building looked like originally.
In a way Josh assessing the past present and future of the structure: what is made of, where did it moved to and what would happen next (if it fails further).
Once these questions are answered the next step is making sure that the structure is temporarily stable, lifting an shifting of heavy items, breaching and breaking through slabs or walls and carrying out first aid to stabilise any casualties.
In rescue there not going to be any time to run computer models. Calculations in your mind, intuitive judgements based on sound engineering principles.
Teamwork is essential
During a search and rescue event, Joshua and other engineers are part of a broader team of professionals which include technicians, team leaders, medical staff. All the different teams need to come together quickly and collaborate and communicate effectively. This is why Joshua thinks that no matter which branch of engineering you are in, teamwork and being collaborative is very important skill:
Engineering, as a profession is made up of a spectrum of people, so you have those who are outgoing naturally extroverted team players and you have those who prefer to work on their own in isolation […] I had to learn the team player aspect of it […] for an engineer to be effective they end up leaning towards teamwork and working closely with others because a) it makes a better outcome and b) its enjoyable and it’s how you learn and it’s how you make friends and it’s how you get the most out of the profession, which is already very rewarding…
Case Study: Roma Agrawal
“I don’t think there are that many professions where you get that sense that you’ve made a thing that people are going to interact with. It’s extremely, extremely rewarding!”
Engineering: the practical side of physics and maths
When Roma was a child she loved making and breaking things, and wanted to be an astronaut. She grew up in India and studied physics and maths at school as these subjects are seen as very prestigious and could lead to many careers. That said, Roma remembers that nobody suggested she might consider a career in engineering. It was not until she was studying physics at Oxford University and got a summer job working at a physics laboratory that she realised engineering brings together mathematics and science with the practicality of making stuff: that is what she wanted to do!
“It’s intrinsic to humans to be engineers … to me every human-made object is engineered. Every time you pick a material or tool and change things in some way, that is engineering.”
Engineering an iconic building
Roma lived in the US from the age of 16 before moving to London. She says that living in different countries made her open minded about finding different ways of doing things in engineering.
In London, Roma spent six years as a structural engineer working on an iconic building, The Shard. She worked on the building’s foundations, a very complex task which required a lot of collaboration amongst different teams. They had to build the foundations in a very tight space and make sure they didn’t disrupt nearby buildings, or the London underground.
“If the foundations don’t work very well, you will get the Leaning Tower of Pisa!”
Being a structural engineer
Roma describes the role of a structural engineer as follows:
“Structural engineers ensure buildings and bridges stand up. We use maths and physics to think about all the forces that are attacking the structure: so gravity is pulling it downwards, wind is pushing it sideways and in some places, earthquakes are trying to rattle it. We convert all of these forces into numbers and we then think about what materials we want the structure to be built from. Often the foundation is concrete because it’s a very robust material.”
Thinking of the invisible and the power of sketching
Roma often finds herself thinking of the invisible side of structures, such as their foundations, wires, or even sewage systems. It blows her mind how complex it is to put a building together, let alone an entire functional city! She is fascinated by bricks (and likes to touch them) and she is surprised how we still rely on this old technology to build modern structures. If she had a superpower it would the ability to control concrete and swish it into any shape she wants. One piece of advice she has to offer:
“I often encourage young people who are considering engineering … build up some confidence in your sketching and drawing skills because it’s a great way to communicate.”
A published author
Roma is currently working as a writer and communicator and has published books for adults and children about engineering. She uses her good communication skills as an engineer and writer to make engineering more accessible to all. She says people often forget that engineering is for humans and it’s helped us advance as a civilisation. Her latest children’s book tells the stories behind awesome structures across the world.
Roma is featured in an episode of the Inventive Podcast:
Case Study: Rory Harris
Rory is a Science Communication placement student with UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Rory studies Physics at the University of Manchester. As part of his degree, he has taken a one year placement with STFC as a science communicator. He loves science and after finishing his GCSE’s he chose to study Maths, Further Maths and Physics at college.
Communicating science with the public
Rory collaborates with scientists to tell the public about the work they are doing. He has great communication skills and can explain why science is important and what it all means in an easy way.
“My job is to tell everyone all about the great work being done by particle physicists!”
Science communication is very important, a scientist’s work is a lot more useful if everyone knows about it and can understand it too! As part of his job, Rory is also hard-working as he ensures he meets deadlines for news articles and social media updates during his placement.
Whilst studying at university, Rory volunteered at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, giving public tours and answering questions about exhibits.
He really enjoyed doing this and found it was great helping engage people with science. Now, on his placement Rory has helped to create some exhibits for their visitor centre as well!
Science Communicator (Placement Student)
collaborative, Communicator, hard-working
A-Levels, Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Physics, Physics, Placement
Case Study: Steph Hill
Steph is a European Communications Manager at CERN.
Try, Try, and Try Again!
Steph career path has lead her to experience different subjects. She went to university to study Geology and Business before gaining a Masters degree in Applied Physics. Like many young people, Steph was a bit unsure of what she wanted to do:
“I did A-levels and went to University, although I had to do some resits and it took me a few years to be sure that I wanted to go to university“
This shows the importance of being resilient and to keep trying to achieve what you want.
The importance of communicating science
As part of her job, Steph helps UK technicians, engineers and scientists to talk about the research that they do using particle accelerators including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Working in such collaborative workplace is very important:
“It gives our researchers the chance to work with the best scientists from around the world, and find answers to some of the biggest unsolved challenges”
She also loves going to see the experiments and learn more about them. Some of them are really impressive. One such experiment is the Compact Muon solenoid (CMS) which is 14,000 tonnes (twice as heavy as the Eiffel Tower” and 100m underground!
Another aspect of Steph’s job is to communicates her findings to key people in the UK government.
Developing her communication skills
Steph worked for several companies after finishing university. She used her communication skills to explain the science and technology behind different things: from what happens to your recycling, why your train is late to what makes chocolate taste so good! This is something that she enjoys enormously in her current job :
I love sharing the excitement of science and technology with other people, and hopefully inspiring them to find out more.
The great outdoors, all year around.
Beyond work Steph loves doing different activities all year long. In the summer she loves hiking and mountain biking to see the beautiful landscapes. In the winter, she enjoys skiing and snowshoeing with her friends.
European Communications Manager
collaborative, Communicator, passionate
A-Levels, Degree, Masters
An operating department practitioner (ODP) is one of the team who look after patients before, and after, an operation.
The ODP will help the patient get ready for the operation. They also prepare all the instruments and equipment that the surgeon needs during the operation.
After the operation, the ODP will look after the patient until they have recovered from the anaesthetic, and will make sure that they are ready to go back to the hospital ward.
Attributes: Collaborative; logical; hard-working
Case Study: Dr Juna Sathian
Juna is a photonics physicist working at Northumbria University.
Photonics is the branch of physics that studies light and the technologies that create it. Juna is curious about finding new applications of photonics technology. She is particularly interested in improving a type of laser which uses alexandrite crystals to make these lasers more affordable and compact. She explains:
This technology should play an important technological role as the next generation of low-cost, high-brightness light sources in a range of scientific, medical and industrial applications.
Masers: microwaves + lasers
After finishing her physics studies in Australia, Juna moved to the UK, where she worked on masers and lasers. Masers are like lasers but they produce beams of microwaves instead of light.
The downside of masers, Juna says, is that they only work at very cold temperatures. Juna was part of the research team that developed a maser that could operate at room-temperature. This will make masers cheaper and easier to use.
As part of her job, Juna has been teaching physics to undergraduate students for a few years now and really enjoys it:
I love the freedom for scientific research, teaching and mentoring students, all in one job!
Juna’s advice to young people
Focus on your goal and be honest at work, you won’t be disappointed.
Outside of her work, Juna is a big fan of history. She loves reading about past civilisations and visiting places of historic interest. One of the favourite places she visited was the Taj_Mahal. Juna also enjoys pencil drawing and drew the diagram below showing all different aspects of science and STEM.
collaborative, curious, passionate
A-Levels, Degree, PhD, Physics
Stewart is an Environmental Engineer who studies ways to protect people from floods, droughts and fires. He uses computers to understands how the climate changes over time. Stewart helped other engineers to develop an app to monitor the water supplies in big cities, like Sydney. Stewart enjoys football and he used to coach a local club.
Stewart is an Environmental Engineer who studies ways to protect people from floods, droughts and fires. He uses computers to understands how the climate changes over time. Stewart helped other engineers to develop an app to monitor the water supplies in big cities, like Sydney.
Stewart enjoys football and he used to coach a local club.
Stewart’s most magnificent thing
Rainfall is very important natural resource for communities that undergo drought periods. You can make a rain gauge using everyday materials and record rainfall levels in you local area. Have look below:
collaborative, creative, tenacious
Vikash is an Electronics Engineer who designs small circuits that make vehicles work better, using less power. He also designs parts for healthcare devices, helping track people’s heart rates. Vikash enjoys coming up with answers to new questions, and believes that never giving up on hard tasks has made him a successful engineer. He is also passionate about photography and travelling the world. “I found a video which shows how a piece of wire is turned into a magnet using a battery. The is similar idea to how electric motors are designed by engineers! In the future almost every car, bus and truck will be driven by an electric motor.”
Vikash’s most magnificent thing
Vikash is an Electronics Engineer who designs small circuits that make vehicles work better, using less power.
He also designs parts for healthcare devices, helping track people’s heart rates.
Vikash enjoys coming up with answers to new questions, and believes that never giving up on hard tasks has made him a successful engineer.
He is also passionate about photography and travelling the world.
“I found a video which shows how a piece of wire is turned into a magnet using a battery. The is similar idea to how electric motors are designed by engineers! In the future almost every car, bus and truck will be driven by an electric motor.”
If you’re a teacher looking for a classroom activity or demonstration, there’s a particularly simple electric motor design. Details at the STEM Learning website. The Institute of Physics have uploaded the film to YouTube:
collaborative, creative, self-motivated
Cookie and Privacy Settings
Click on the different category headings to find out more. You can also change some of your preferences. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features.
We provide you with a list of stored cookies on your computer in our domain so you can check what we stored. Due to security reasons we are not able to show or modify cookies from other domains. You can check these in your browser security settings.
These cookies collect information that is used either in aggregate form to help us understand how our website is being used or how effective our marketing campaigns are, or to help us customize our website and application for you in order to enhance your experience.
If you do not want that we track your visit to our site you can disable tracking in your browser here:
We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps, and external Video providers. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Changes will take effect once you reload the page.
Google Webfont Settings:
Google Map Settings:
Google reCaptcha Settings:
Vimeo and Youtube video embeds:
The following cookies are also needed - You can choose if you want to allow them: