During her aerospace engineering degree Maria interned for the European Space Agency. Upon graduation she wanted to experience more ‘tangible’ engineering, so joined Eaton’s graduate programme, working in hydraulics.
What’s your name?
Where do you work?
Eaton - Hydraulics, Havant, UK.
What's your job title?
Design engineer in the Engineering and Technology Leadership Development Programme.
How long have you been doing that?
How did you get there?
I went to the University of Southampton to study aerospace engineering and during my time there I was lucky to have had many great opportunities. I spent six months living in Paris as part of the ERASMUS programme, did a summer internship in the European Space Agency (ESA) in the Netherlands, learned French and took part in many engineering projects.
I think my high academic grades along with international experience were the main factors for securing the job.
Why did you decide to move away from aerospace and into hydraulics?
Being in a graduate programme at Eaton meant I could explore different sectors within the same company. Eaton has a variety of sectors it operates in and I decided to pick hydraulics to broaden my engineering knowledge. Also, when selecting the job I was interested in the specific project Eaton - Hydraulics was offering. I’m not looking at this experience as a permanent move away from aerospace necessarily.
What's the day-to-day experience like at Eaton?
It’s great. I work in a small team of engineers and we are always supporting each other and sharing concerns and ideas. I spend time testing prototypes on a test rig, improving and changing their design, in conference calls with our supporting engineering team in India and so on.
What's the best thing about the job?
For me, the best thing is the variety. During my year with Eaton I’ve been involved in projects with manufacturing and marketing as well as engineering. I like working on a number of diverse projects and keeping up a dynamic pace.
And the worst?
The worst is waiting for prototypes to arrive. Sometimes this can take a long time and it brings the project to a standstill. The reasons for delay can vary from long shipping times to having to purchase new tools to delays in receiving cost quotes.
What stand-out things have you got involved in so far?
I’ve been involved in representing Eaton at a ‘Women in Engineering’ event at our Aerospace plant in Titchfield. I presented to over 30 schoolgirls: talking about my career choices and life as an engineer. Last month I was also on a panel of female engineers answering questions for an online conference on inclusion and diversity at Eaton.
There have been many highlights this year. I’ve taken part in conferences on leadership and personal development in Morges, Switzerland and Dubrovnik, Croatia. I undertook Six Sigma training in Prague. I’ve also presented a benchmark analysis of Eaton’s products to our EMEA sales team in Germany as part of a marketing project I’ve been involved in. The travelling opportunities at Eaton are a big advantage of my job!
Perhaps the biggest highlight recently though, has been my work on the launch of Eaton’s X20 hydraulic pumps. I was on the team that coordinated a large event at our Havant manufacturing site, where we announced a £2 million investment and the creation of 100 jobs on an assembly and test line. It was a big thrill to be involved in such a positive project for Eaton and our customers.
How would you describe life as a working engineer?
The job offers a lot of variety and constantly challenges you. Also, the working hours are very good allowing me to achieve a good work/life balance as I finish on time most days.
What did you expect when you started work? Did anything surprise you?
University is much more theoretical than practical so when starting work I had to adapt to a new, mostly practical, environment. I expected to use a lot of the theory I learned from university and was surprised that I didn’t need as much as I expected. I mostly learned on the job.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?
Take all the opportunities you are offered and create your own. Think about what interests you and pursue it.
What do you think you'll do next?
I’m in the process of moving to Turin, Italy to work for Eaton’s automotive business. I’m going to be working on valve actuation products for customers including some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world.