At University I worked in a lot of places as a waitress or behind the bar. After University I didn’t really know what job I wanted to go into so ended up working at McDonalds for a year before getting my first engineering job designing a new helicopter for Barrack Obama! Unfortunately then the credit crunch hit and he cancelled his order which is when I went into my current job as a Project Engineer working on submarines.
My job title is Project Engineer (Nuclear)
Amec Foster Wheeler – Defence
I work as part of a team designing mini nuclear power plants which are used in the Royal Navy’s submarines
Hi my name is Sarah; I’m 30 years old and live and work in Warrington near Manchester for a company called Amec Foster Wheeler.
I became an Engineer in a round-about way, I always wanted to be a pilot in the RAF when I left school and so decided to study Aerospace Engineering at Manchester University; it’s always a good idea to know how a plane works in order to fly it! Unfortunately it wasn’t until midway through my degree that I found out that I was too short (I’m only 4ft 11) to become a pilot and so I was left wondering what to do. I decided to continue with my degree and after a brief spell of working at McDonalds following graduation I landed my first proper engineering job and I’ve not looked back since!
My current job is working as part of a team who help to design the mini nuclear power plant which powers the Royal Navy’s submarines around the sea. Our job is to check that the design will work and more importantly to make sure that it will work safely without harming the submariners. It’s a really important job with a lot of responsibility. You need to have a good knowledge of how everything works and fits together so that you can understand what might happen if something was to break and then change the design to stop it happening in the first place. Every day is different and a new challenge which is why I love my job; plus how many people can say they’ve been on a submarine! I’m currently working on the design of the new nuclear power plant that will be fitted into the Successor Class submarine.
When I’m not at work I love going hiking, mountain biking and most of all travelling. My favourite places in the world are New Zealand and Thailand and this year I’m off to Iceland. Also, I’m a member of the Army Reserve as part of 103 Regiment Royal Artillery, where I am a Gunner. Here’s a picture from my travels and from an Army weekend:
My Typical Day
Every day is different and a new challenge which is why I love my job
Every day is different; one day I might be visiting one of the Naval bases in Scotland or Portsmouth, the next working on a report at my desk and attending meetings by Skype, or I could be on a training course to increase my knowledge of the science and technology behind the nuclear power plant.
I spend quite a lot of my day problem solving, thinking about how we might change the design to make it safer to people and easier to control. Sometimes problems are quite complex and so I have to organise meetings with lots of different experts so that we provide the best solution there is, which can be very challenging.
There are also a lot of opportunities to get involved with other projects outside of my normal day job. Once a fortnight I go into schools and run a STEM Club and I also go to a lot of careers fairs. Also, I organise our team days out where we go bowling, for a curry, or to watch cricket – which makes work a lot more fun!
What I'd do with the money
Build an exciting, interactive stand to take to the North West Big Bang Fair 2016
I first went to the National Big Bang fair in 2013 as a volunteer, and I’ve been going ever since. The Big Bang Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. If you haven’t been to one then go and ask your teacher if they could organise a trip right now, because it’s awesome! There’s everything from Viking ships to robots, to learning how to weld using bars of chocolate to explore.
Unfortunately, our stand at the North West Big Bang Fair hasn’t had many exciting interactive activities for everyone to try in the past year, as the equipment we use is not always available to take as it is being used on a job. Here’s our stand from last year.
Therefore, I’d like to use the money to build an activity to explain more about nuclear technology and the work we do, that will always be available. I’d like to take the activity into schools and other careers fairs as well as the Big Bang Fair so that lots of people can see and use it.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Adventurous, determined, reliable
Who is your favourite singer or band?
The Libertines, although I do love a bit of 1D every now and again
What's your favourite food?
Probably curry but you cant beat a good old Sunday roast dinner either
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Visited New Zealand and climbed the real life Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings as well as visiting Bilbo Baggins house in Hobbiton
What did you want to be after you left school?
A pilot in the RAF – until I found out I was too short : (
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Only for small things like missing homework or the top button on my school shirt being undone
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Worked as part of a team to keep the Vanguard Class submarines working for another 5 years
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
I would probably have joined the Army or the RAF; I’m currently a Gunner in the Army Reserve in my spare time
Tell us a joke.
Q. What did the nuclear scientist have for lunch? A. Fission and Chips
Unfortunately I can’t show you what my workplace looks like from the inside as some of the work I do is secret (James Bond eat your heart out!). This means that I can’t bring a camera or my mobile phone into my office as we need to keep it secure. This is what it looks like from the outside though.