- Course: Automotive Engineering (Industrial) MEng
- Nationality: British
- Job title: Applications Engineer
- Company: Solid Solutions
What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?
I work at Solid Solutions - the UK’s largest 3D CAD/CAM value added reseller (VAR) with over 5,000 customers. Solid Solutions specialises in providing CAD software (primarily SOLIDWORKS) and accompanying partner products for a broad range of engineering applications;- simulation, machining, quality control, data management etc. Solid Solutions also focus on software training courses, provide online technical support and offer bespoke consultancy services.
What is your role within the company?
I am an Applications Engineer for Solid Solutions and specialise in consultancy. This means I work closely with customers on providing a solution to real engineering problems, from 3D solid modelling/surfacing to running simulations. I also provide online technical support and create technical documentation for the software portfolio.
Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?
A typical day for me is quite dynamic. I will usually be working on multiple personal and customer projects at any one time so time management is key. Most days this will involve specifying a design criteria, looking for possible alternatives and finding the most effective way to reach a solution. This can include modelling a complex mechanical part or providing design feedback to customers after running tailored simulations on their models. On other days I will be on the frontline technical support desk answering incoming customer queries over the phone, web and via email. Some of these support issues require further investigation which I will carry out and update the customer on. Following on from this, I also create technical documentation to provide back to customers and the online community via our website. Any spare time I have at the end of the day is spent trying out new software from the portfolio we offer and working towards becoming fully certified as an ‘Elite’ Applications engineer by sitting online exams.
What are you enjoying the most and are you involved in any interesting projects?
The aspects I enjoy most about working at Solid Solutions is that you are free to define your own role, to an extent, and specialise in areas that interest you. You also have the option of becoming fully certified in these areas too and as the number of SOLIDWORKS certified engineers is small, you can really differentiate yourself and stand out to employers. For me this has meant I have been able to focuson surface modelling, design/graphics, aerodynamics and flow simulation which all link in with my degree -Automotive Engineering. Many of the projects I have worked on so far have had non-disclosure agreements attached to them but they include modelling work for marine, heavy manufacturing, defence and automotive sectors. I am also currently running simulation design studies for the Leeds F15 Formula Student car which is an amazing opportunity for me as I get to put the skills I’ve gained to use for the university team!
Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?
I chose to study automotive engineering as I’ve always enjoyed the STEM subjects but part of me has always been design oriented. I was unsure if I could combine all the engineering theory with practical design in a work environment and still become a competent engineer in the process. A year in industry seemed like the safest way to find out by exploring what it meant to work for a company that blurred the line between traditional engineering and the latest software/technology such as 3D printing. A placement at SolidSolutions would mean I would be exposed to many different sectors and thousands of companies through the software tools that were common to all of these industries. This way I could gain valuable experience and skills, provide solutions to engineering challenges and still have the freedom to be creative.
What are you hoping to get out of this experience?
I’m aiming to gain a better understanding of how problems in industry are solved using the technology and software available to streamline the entire process. I hope the experience makes me confident in dealing with challenges presented by a customer or client so I am able to set-up, test and verify a process to reach successful result. I also want to use this opportunity to obtain professionally accredited SOLIDWORKS certifications and learn as many engineering/interpersonal skills to use in my third & fourth year projects and thereafter. The chance to see what job roles might fit around my interests by networking and building on relationships with customers will give me a clearer understanding on what career path I want to take and how to work towards this.
Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?
My advice would be to definitely get some industrial experience if you can. The organisation, time management, communication and critical thinking skills you learn help immensely with being able to approach a task from different perspectives. I’d suggest looking in to companies you feel would fit your interests and not giving up if you don’t find something straight away. It pays to do your research into a company before an interview and sometimes the biggest companies are not always the best if you want a range of experience and not just a standard office job. One of the most important things is to keep your options open and be persistent about any new opportunities because you won’t know what’s on offer until you ask!