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Over the past 6 months, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Callum Young, a Placement Engineer on secondment from his day job as a Civil Servant. The placement scheme gives applicants the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skill set away from their work setting to gain essential experience in an operational business within the engineering industry.

As his placement comes to an end, Callum shares his experience and talks about what he has learned during his time as an honorary Cubite.

Tell me a bit about your background, skills and experience?
I studied Electronic and Electrical Engineering for four years at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Since leaving uni, I have worked at an aerospace company as a manufacturing engineer and as an engineer in the public sector. I enjoy working with sensors, microcontrollers, low voltage electronics and software.

Can you explain a bit about the scheme and how it works?
The DE&S Engineering Graduate Scheme is open to applicants from a wide range of engineering and science backgrounds. The scheme is designed to train graduates for a career as a Civil Servant working within the engineering function. Graduates aim to cover the Concept, Assessment, Demonstration, Manufacturing, In-service and Disposal (CADMID) cycle during their first two years. Upon completion of the scheme and gaining enough experience/competency, the graduate will be regraded into an engineering role, responsible for procurement and acquisition within the public sector.

Did you get to choose where you wanted to do your placement?
My first placement was assigned to me. After that was completed, I was given the option to find my own placements. Placements must be justified and approved by management and mentors before you are given permission to attend. Competencies such as design and development cannot be achieved at my workplace which is why we are given the opportunity to complete secondments.

During your time at Cubik, what sort of projects have you been working on?
I have worked on a wide range of projects. My main responsibilities were to carry out the initial research on all products and investigate how the project would be approached. I then costed and documented the different solutions that were possible and met with the customers to discuss the possibilities.I have also been involved with the design work and developing proof of concepts. No two days working at Cubik Innovation were ever the same. On occasions I would be writing software, typing reports, breadboarding circuits and talking with suppliers all in the same day.

What are the benefits of doing a placement with another organisation?
Working with Cubik has been an opportunity to focus purely on my electronic knowledge and experience, taking lessons learned back to my day job. It has been a great chance to see how customer requirements are received by industry, highlighting the difficulties faced and work required to deliver complex systems. Completion of the placement will allow me to become an ‘intelligent customer’ in the procurement of future systems. I now have 6 months experience working at Cubik Innovation, winners of the Best Engineering & Manufacturing Award 2019, which I can add to my CV and use while working towards my incorporated/chartered status within my current role.

What have you learned whilst working at Cubik? Have you gained any new skills?
I have learned how to adapt quickly to new challenges and make use of limited resources to understand complex problems. I have gained confidence in the work I am delivering and how to present myself when dealing with customers. In terms of engineering skills, I learned how to select and make use of electrical components bringing them all together in a system to solve real world problems. I have also gained a significant understanding of Linux based systems and developed my software skills. Given more time I would have liked to learn more about the design software’s used at Cubik, like Altium.

Have you come up against any challenges? If so, how did you tackle them?
Many of the projects at Cubik deal with new and emerging technology, therefore it is unlikely that you will have the knowledge or full skill set required to tackle the problem. Cubik Innovation are excellent at identifying this and allow staff to develop as they tackle the problem. If there is a gap in knowledge, someone else within the office is always able to assist. This level of teamwork allows for projects to be designed, manufactured and delivered to the high standards achieved by Cubik. The team at Cubik Innovation are incredibly agile, willing to take on jobs outside of their usual role. The benefits of this were clearly observable and I will try to carry this quality with me throughout my career.

What has been your favourite thing about working at Cubik?
The staff and engineers at Cubik Innovation are all incredibly clever individuals and it has been a pleasure to work alongside them. Whilst working at Cubik I can honestly say I have learned something new every day. I was given responsibility and trust from day one, representing the business in several different scenarios. When I have needed help and guidance it has always been given to me in what I can only describe as above and beyond by all members of the team. Finally, I would like to mention how great it was to work in a company with standard processes for all tasks.

“Callum has proved to be a very valuable member of the team. He has shown willingness to pick up new tasks and challenges, working on project types which are completely new to him. 

Skills he has brought to the team include expertise in coding for the Raspberry Pi, as well as showing a great ability to go and research new subjects and produce research documents for our clients.

He has been a popular member of the team, with a friendly attitude, integrating well and coping well if projects are under pressure.”

Phil Potter, Design Manager