- Course: Mechatronics and Robotics MEng (Industrial)
- Company: Pace PLC
What was the name of the company you worked for and what do they do?
I worked for Pace PLC, a company located just north of Bradford that develops set-top boxes, advanced residential gateways, software and services for the pay-TV and broadband services industry.
What was your role within the company?
I worked in the Network Interface Group. NIG, for short, performs analogue electronics roles such as testing and developing Front End solutions for cable modems and gateways. This includes designing Radio Frequency filters, testing and optimising their performance, evaluating the operation of circuits with amplifiers, tuners, radio-frequency modulators/demodulators and conformity testing against various standards and requirements.
A typical day on placement
In a typical day, I spent most of my time evaluating set top boxes: whether they meet requirements and performance criteria. In a case where a unit fails, I had to investigate the problem and find a solution. Issues are not uncommon and thus my work was mostly investigating and problem-solving. For example: improving filter characteristics, reducing noise, increasing sensitivity or improving circuit layout are some of the typical tasks.
What did you enjoy the most and did you get involved in any interesting projects?
All the projects I was involved with were interesting. Set-top boxes and internet gateways are quite complex devices with a full range of analogue and digital electronics, from passive filters to multi-core Linux embedded systems, not to mention the software side. This is what I enjoyed most about the placement, the variety of technologies involved in these devices and the broad spectrum of skills required for the job. One of the projects I was involved in is already being manufactured on a large scale.
Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?
I took a year in industry to gain practical experience in engineering. Partially to improve my employability after graduation, i.e. to increase chances of finding a job I might want in the future. I also wanted to learn new skills that I otherwise wouldn’t through my university course alone. Radio frequency engineering is a very specific sector of Electronic Engineering and I would have never had a chance to learn so much about it if not for the placement.
What did you hope to get out of this experience?
I wanted to broaden my skill set and enjoy my time as much as possible. I wanted to come back to university knowing more than I did when I started the placement and be happy that I did everything I could to take the most out of the year. This was a chance for me to learn new things, meet new people and get an experience of life, not just of work. I was successful.
Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?
I definitely recommend taking a year in industry to everybody. It is a valuable lesson of life and work, which makes one appreciate the time left at university afterwards. I suggest being proactive about searching and applying for jobs. Don’t just apply for the ones advertised, find employers yourself and ask, maybe they’ll want you! I also suggest showing off about personal projects at the interview. Do bring your recent creation or project for the interview, employers will want to know what you can do in your own time and outside university. This is a good chance to set yourself aside from competition.