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.”