In any given week Douglas can be working on up to five different kinds of projects. He believes that now is a great time to enter the engineering world, as engineers face lots of interesting challenges.
What’s your name?
Where do you work?
What's your job title?
Chartered electrical engineer. I work in the Transmission and Distribution division designing the elements of the power system between the generators and the customers.
This fits well with the diverse work of a consultant engineer. In a week I can work on between one and five projects and have a different role in each. These roles can include project management, substation design, cable/OHL design, technical specifications, product appraisal, due diligence and electrical engineering support for other divisions in Mott MacDonald. In the past couple of years a significant proportion of my projects have been related to the design of the electrical networks for offshore wind farms.
How long have you been doing that?
Six years, since I graduated from university.
How did you get there?
I studied electrical and mechanical engineering at Strathclyde University. In my final year I applied to the Mott MacDonald graduate scheme via the company’s website.
What's the work and day-to-day experience like?
It depends a great deal on the projects I am working on and my role within the project team. Generally I am based in the office with one to two days a week out of the office, meeting clients, visiting site or attending conferences.
In my time with Mott MacDonald this has included visiting Ireland, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, Holland, Poland and Hong Kong as well as visiting EHV, underground and offshore substations.
What's the best thing about the job?
The diversity of the work ensures the job is always interesting, but most of all I enjoy the collaborative atmosphere of a consultancy. Challenging projects become significantly more manageable when there are world-class engineers available in the same office or available at the end of the telephone.
And the worst?
Working for a consultancy means that I do not directly make anything physical – this means that there is little manufacturing or construction in my work.
What standout things have you had the opportunity to get involved in?
I have worked on a number of great projects including planning the distribution network in central London to meet the challenges of load growth and investigations into a number of emerging technologies such as HVDC, FACTS and battery storage.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a number of offshore wind farm projects. This is a new and exciting design challenge and it has been great to be involved and as part of this work I am able to participate in CIGRE and IET events.
What are your future career plans?
I hope to continue in my current role and work on the emerging developments in the transmission and distribution world like the growth of HVDC connections, the next generation of offshore wind farms and smart grids.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?
To stick with engineering rather than moving to another industry at graduation. This is a great time to enter the engineering world with a lot of interesting challenges.
In the electrical power industry, where I work, we are working to meet rising energy demands while coping with the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions and the finite nature of fossil fuels reserves. These challenges will require the application of new technologies and new ways of working. In the next few years this may include a European HVDC super grid, large offshore power generation and “smart grids” being applied at distribution level.