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  • Role: Manufacturing Sector Engineer
  • University: Nottingham
  • Degree: Masters Mechanical Engineering

Richard Tuxford

Richard Tuxford puts his MEng in Mechanical Engineering to good use at Tata Steel. He talks to us about how communication skills are the secret to success.

What do you actually do?

I’m currently on a placement in Tata Steel’s design office (previously known as Corus) as part of my professional development working towards gaining Chartered Engineering status with the IMechE.

Here I have had placements as a maintenance engineer at Dawes Lane Coke Ovens, Scunthorpe Rod Mill and Central Engineering Workshops, as well as a secondment to the Major Contracts Project team. During my time in the design office I have put to use the AutoCAD design experience that I have gained during my studies in order to produce and detail the required drawings requested by plant.

As a Graduate Mechanical Maintenance Engineer, I have worked on many different projects which have involved lots of hands on engineering in order to get the task done. I have also been responsible for ensuring that safe systems of work have been followed, to ensure anyone carrying out any work is safe, and has full knowledge of how to perform the tasks required.

Were you always interested in engineering as a career?

I really didn’t start to give my working life much thought until I started college, but have always been interested in understanding how things around me work. I think this stems from being taken to watch a lot of motorbike racing with my dad when I was younger.

I had always enjoyed, and been successful at, maths, physics and design during my time at school, so engineering seemed to be the logical progression from there.

How did you find out about this particular job?

Having lived near the steelworks in Scunthorpe up until I went to university, I had obviously heard about the apprenticeship schemes that were available. However, it wasn’t until the latter years at university that I heard about the graduate scheme. I spoke to a friend who had been on the apprenticeship scheme and continued through onto the graduate scheme via a sponsorship from Tata Steel, and I decided that it definitely merited further investigation.

Would you undertake further study to progress your career?

Of course, I think it would be naïve to assume that your degree alone is going to be enough to see you progress through your career unaided. Whilst I have been at Tata Steel I have attended various courses, from those related to steel making, through to courses on developing personal skills and safety training.

In the future I would also like to undertake some studying in order to develop a greater knowledge of the business world.

What do you most like about your job and are there any downsides?

One of the things I have enjoyed most about working with Tata Steel is getting to know the many different people within the company. There are some fantastic characters that work here, both young and old, and they help to make the working day an enjoyable experience.

I suppose the biggest downside that all engineers face in any industry currently is the feeling that you are bogged down in paperwork. I feel that this can sometimes prevent you from showing your true potential as an engineer, and instead only really allows you to demonstrate your administrative capabilities.

What skills do you need to make a success of what you do?

On an engineering level, I feel that the ability to visualise how something works or how components will interact is an essential skill for any Mechanical Engineer, particularly when it comes to carrying out maintenance work on plant, or creating drawings in the design office. On a more general level, being able to form both working and personal relationships with those you interact with will help you get the best out of your work.

What advice would you give graduates coming into this sector?

Keep an open mind about the role you perform as an engineer, and make a concerted effort to get involved when any new opportunity arises. In addition to this, if the opportunity for shift/hands on work arises, don’t be afraid to get involved.

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