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Ryan Smith has been Cubik Innovations Intern Design Engineer from 2015 to 2016. Joining us from Plymouth University where he is currently studying Robotics, Cubik has thrown every possible challenge at him… including writing a news update about his placement year!

So what do I think of the time I have spent here?
It’s been great, I have learnt so much, and that’s above and beyond the technical skills you would expect. Of course you pick up some good design tips and lots of best practices that I have seen other designers use. The thing is though, that is not the reason to do a placement year, a year in a real business offers the opportunity to see how that business works such as seeing how customers are dealt with, and how things are actually done. It has given me a great insight into the world of electronics, a part of the world which the end user doesn’t typically get to see.

One thing that you really don’t experience at university are customers. When you’re writing an essay, or designing a project, the closest thing to a customer that you encounter is your lecturer. In Cubik I have been given the chance to actually interact with real customers; to go through design development cycles, to talk through problems, and produce reports of tests that I have conducted.

There are not many companies out there that will trust an intern to travel to a customer’s office, and figure out problems on behalf of the company.

On reflection, the most important skill I have learnt here at Cubik is the way to write documents. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but writing a good quality technical document is harder than it initially seems. It needs to hold all the possible information it can, including all the technical stuff; yet also be simple enough for anyone to read. The document could be read by somebody with no technical experience, and who knows nothing about the design process.  I know it might sound boring and mundane, but this will be helpful in the years to come, with final year projects, and exams to do in the years to come, as writing good quality documents will be invaluable.

So how has this year actually helped me? Well experience is key.
There is only so much your university lecturers can teach you about the big bad world of work and no amount of exams can prepare you on how to interact with a customer in a particularly tense meeting. Being in a very active design environment forces you to actually think quickly, and to learn even quicker. Yet the thing everybody concentrates on is whether I want to go into and work in this world. I would say the Cubik experience has actually strengthened my desire to be an engineer. I have spoken to loads of other interns like me who haven’t enjoyed their experiences as much as I have, and more importantly, haven’t actually been given the opportunity to have those experiences. I have literally seen every part of the electronic design process, and been able to directly be a part of it, not many interns can say they’ve done that.

So has Cubik guided me and helped me?
Of course it has, the things I have learnt will help me for many years to come; and will definitely help the rest of my time at university. I have found things I enjoy, and things I don’t. That’s the idea! So all in all, this year has been a success, and I have gotten everything I wanted out of it, and more. I would definitely recommend this placement to anyone.

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith