Explore: Engineering

Mechanical Engineer
University College London

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Thomas H

My name is Tom Hamer and I’m a technician at the department of engineering at the University College London. I will make and design prototypes for students research work, research work with in side the department and outside the department.

I was around 14 years old and my father was a technician here as well and I became very interested in the work. I was always curious of how things were made and designed so I started ask what he did and he said to me during the summer holidays, would you like to come up. I said Id love to. Then when I turned 16 I did my GCSEs come straight C’s and started a foundation modern apprenticeship but I never really enjoyed it. When I applied for it when I was in year 11, they said to me what would I like to do as an apprenticeship, and I said well mechanical engineering and they said yep that certainly we can do that for you and it became to the first week and they said that this foundation modern apprenticeship will be for plumbers and electricians only.  So I resided to the fact that Id be able to do plumbing or electrical engine.. err plumbing or be an electrician for the rest of my life which was something that I wasn’t really interested in, but I did not know really where to go from there.  So what I did was I started looking for jobs and a junior positions came available within the department I work in now and I applied for it and with my previous experience working with UCL and within the industry they accepted me and I’ve worked here since I was 16 now.

I think my dad was rather proud for taking a step into the family trade. He never pushed me but was always intrigued when I asked him could you show me how something worked.

School was very different, it was ok, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say I hated it either. It was the resistant materials, woodwork, metal work, graphic, anything that was practical and hands on that was me. So anything that I could design something or manufacture something that always took my interest.  My mother had me very late on in life and she was a legal secretary right up until the time she had me and then retired from that point.

I’m engaged. My hobby at the moment is actually renovating my house so I’ve really got no time for other activities at the moment. I use to play golf; I am still a scout leader so I do devote my time to helping other people as well as my own interests outside.

At the beginning I was apprehensive because it was always stated that you would always have to talk to different types of people academics, professors, doctors down to first years, second years as well as outside contract work if people came in and asked for work to be done. It was daunting at first. At the moment I’ve just designed and finished a prototype for videophone which was a solar powered umbrella which would charge a mobile phone and boost a mobile phone signal. It’s predominately designed for festival goers. I’ve had to re-engineer an umbrella to accept circuitry work which our professors and doctors have designed. I’ve got to know a lot of the academic and the research work as well so I hoped it would naturally follow, that the air of progression would continue. Technician here is such a broad variation on the word. I mean it can be anyone really from that cleans test tubes in the laboratory to making intricate pieces of metal and plastic work. It could take you down many routes. I do know a few technicians within other universities that have actually gone on to become doctors and professors because they found it so intriguing that what research work they use to help with. So I mean the possibilities are endless with where you could progress to.

Tom passed all his GCSEs and then decided to take a foundation course. He soon realised that it wasn’t for him, prefering to look for something that was more hands on. Influenced by his father, he applied for a Junior Technician role at University College London. He has developed his skills and knowledge on the job and is now the Technician Manager at the university.

More information about Mechanical engineers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

93%  male 
7%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Mechanical engineers undertake research and design, direct the manufacture and manage the operation and maintenance of engines, machines, aircraft, vehicle and ships’ structures, building services and other mechanical items.
Mechanical engineers usually possess an accredited university degree. After qualifying, periods of appropriate training and experience are required before membership of a chartered engineering institution is attainable. Incorporated engineers possess an accredited university degree, BTEC/SQA award or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 4, followed by periods of training and relevant experience.
  • Undertakes research and advises on energy use, materials handling, thermodynamic processes, fluid mechanics, vehicles and environmental controls;
  • Determines materials, equipment, piping, capacities, layout of plant or system and specification for manufacture;
  • Designs mechanical equipment, such as steam, internal combustion and other non-electrical motors for railway locomotives, road vehicles, aeroplanes and other machinery;
  • Ensures that equipment, operation and maintenance comply with design specifications and safety standards;
  • Organises and establishes control systems to monitor operational efficiency and performance of materials and systems.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Other trans. equipment 10570
Architectural & related 10041
Head offices, etc 6747
Construction 6283
Repair & installation 6101
Specialised construction 5513
Motor vehicles, etc 4484
Machinery, etc 3971
Metal products 3471
Rental & leasing 3108
Employment status

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