James started his Year in Industry in 2001 with TRW Aerospace in South Birmingham and looking back he can now reflect on how the placement has impacted his life...
I remember at high school and college I always wanted to end up in a technical/engineering field and I knew that the best chances to do well was to get experience early, so I signed up for, and was delighted to get onto the YINI programme.
I was posted with TRW Aerospace, a factory that made electronic control units for planes, in South Birmingham and I rented a spare room with a local resident.
Looking back now I can see the impact it had on my life. It was my first time living away from home, looking after myself, having control of my own time and activities, making friends and spending time with the other YINI students on the placement. I matured a lot and got a good head start when it came to living away at university. I had my first experience of day to day office life and real responsibility with engineering projects. It helped me secure further industrial placements whilst at university which boosted my CV and led to me gaining full employment straight after my degree.
Most of all though it gave me a chance to experience, reflect and change direction in life, and I’ll tell you how….I had applied to do an Aerospace Engineering degree and so my YINI placement was in an Aerospace factory. I really enjoyed the manufacturing side of the job but, as it turned out, found that I was uninterested by the electronics and aerospace, and so, when at university I changed my degree to Mechanical Engineering. This led me on a different path that resulted in my current role in Water and Sustainability Engineering.
Without my YINI experience I doubt I would have made these changes and ended up where I feel I’m happy, professionally fulfilled and am making a worthwhile contribution to society, which is all any Engineer wants really.
I’m now halfway through my 8th year with Environmental Engineering Design and Construction firm MWH. In that time I've worked on many Wastewater, Sludge Bio Resource and Clean water design and build projects for clients United Utilities, Scottish Water, Severn Trent Water, Southern Water and Northern Ireland Water.
MWH believes strongly in fostering young talent. We regulary take on university placement students and have just this year started an Apprentice Recruitment programme taking on 10 apprentices across our UK offices.
I’m now a qualified Chartered Mechanical Engineer and have chosen to be a professional mentor for a developing graduate too.
Informally at work I’m a WaterAid and RedR charity office rep, I’m part of our local Community Engagement Group and volunteer as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador in my spare time.