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A career in engineering-Adam Walton of Winder Power gives his advice.
When did you become interested in engineering and what attracted you to the profession? What advice would you give to graduates looking to pursue a career in engineering?
I was interested in maths and physics from a very young age, but as standalone subjects they can be quite theoretical. I wanted to do something more hands on and engineering was the natural choice. I’d advise anyone looking to pursue it as a career to make sure that they’re interested in the idea of how things work – it’s the foundation of the profession, no matter what area you’re involved with. Being skilled at maths and physics is also very important.
What key transferable skills have you brought from your course into the workplace?
In university, you train in areas like CAD and 3D Design – these transfer straight into the working world which helps ease the transition. It goes beyond that though, skills like teamwork and time management that you pick up during education are invaluable in the workplace.
How did you hear about Winder Power? What attracted you to do a work placement there?
Winder Power is a very specialist company and I didn’t hear about it until I saw advertisements for placements in university. I had an interest in energy so I inquired locally about the company. I found out that a previous student had gone for a placement there and got an amazing experience out of it. I got the impression Winder were very supportive of graduate development, so I went for an interview and it went really well.
What is your current role within the company? How has it changed since you first joined and how do you see it progressing?
I’m a mechanical design engineer – I design full transformers in 3D software. As an order comes in, the electrical design – inside of the transformer – is complete and from there I do the mechanical design of the tank and positioning of any instruments that are required.
That’s been my role since I joined the company – what has changed is the size of the projects I’m working on. At the beginning, naturally I was focussed on some of the smaller projects as I was very much still learning. I had no knowledge of transformers when I first started so Winder Power facilitated all of my learning and training in the early stages.
As my time at Winder progresses, and I build on my skill set, the size of the projects I’m working on will increase.
What new challenges have arisen both in your role at Winder Power and as a part-time undergraduate?
Deadlines is the first thing that comes to mind, they’re so important in both student and working life generally, not least of all in engineering. You’re constantly working towards two sets of deadlines so you have to develop good time management, there’s just no other way.
Another difficulty is keeping up a social life in the midst of all that, which is a challenge of its own.
Are there any exciting projects you’re currently working on or will be in the near future?
I’ve started working on my final year project in university, which is based around the cooling process of large transformers. I’m integrating the work I’m doing there into what we do at Winder Power, which is very exciting and is allowing me to gain experience working on larger projects.
Is Winder Power a good company to begin your career with? What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’ve found Winder to be an excellent place to begin my career. They’ve been very supportive both in terms of the opportunity they’ve given me and allowing me to finish my studies while gaining valuable work experience.
The most rewarding part of a job is seeing it go out the door. You’re working on a project for a minimum of one week, which is a considerable amount of time, and it’s very rewarding to see the finished project.
What advice would you give to someone doing or looking to work full-time while completing a part-time degree? How do you manage your time?
Stay on top of your work, both in your course and in your job. If you let either pile up, both will suffer. I’ve found taking holidays from Winder around exam time in university has been very beneficial, as it allows you to dedicate the time you need to your studies.
What do you feel is unique about Winder Power’s offering?
Winder makes bespoke products for each customer. There’s nothing ‘off the rack’ as such, which is a unique offering. Each project you’re utilising different skills and you’ll never do the same one twice, which has given me a more varied training experience. Winder products are all handmade as well, which helps establish that element of uniqueness.
How does Winder contribute to the wider community?
Winder sources the majority of its materials from local suppliers and is a huge support in that sense. The company also employs over 90 staff from the surrounding area and helps the local community in that sense too. Obviously, I can personally speak for the company’s contribution to education from my own experience. There are also a number of ongoing apprenticeship programmes that are helping people learn the trade.
Winder Power (Winder) is a leading UK manufacturer of power and distribution transformers and generator equipment.
Winder specialises in the design, build, deployment and management of distribution transformers and power transformers up to 60MVA. Its rotating-machines division (Newton Derby), is the leading manufacturer of exciters for the power generation industry.
Winder serves a wide range of customers in the utilities, renewable energy, and industrial sectors across the UK and internationally. Key clients include SSE plc, Northern Ireland Electricity, Electricity North West, GE Energy, Ineos Chemicals, Air Products and Powerteam.
With a history dating back to 1898, all Winder products continue to be designed, hand wound and assembled at the company’s 80,000 square foot factory in Leeds.