British Science Week – Why Choose Engineering?
As we celebrate British Science Week and this year’s theme of growth, we speak to our Engineering Director, Andy Carnall, about why he chose to enter the world of engineering and what he enjoys most about his role.
What made you choose a career in engineering?
My career was fairly set from the start – both my parents worked in STEM subjects; my father was an engineer and my mother was a maths teacher. I was good at the “classic” STEM subjects from the outset, so going into engineering was an obvious path for me.
What’s your role at NanoSUN?
As NanoSUN’s Engineering Director, I’m responsible for all of the design work on our hydrogen refuelling products. Most importantly, I’m responsible for leading, motivating and developing all of our Design Engineers. Ensuring that they are happy, working well with each other and progressing in their careers.
What do you love most about your role in engineering?
Helping people develop as engineers! Although I’ve only been with NanoSUN a very short time, having joined the company in October, I am seeing that development happen already. Being a young company, both in terms of the age of the company and the age of the engineers, NanoSUN has a real vitality and openness to change.
What are you most passionate about within your engineering role specifically?
Good design – often good design is not impressive, it's about the things that “just work”. Few people think twice about a light switch, but the amount of effort from power generation & distribution, to materials and mass manufacturing techniques, to enable you to have a well lit room (now literally) at the click of your fingers is astonishing.
Did you have a STEM role model that inspired you to become an engineer?
To be honest, it’s not since I had long been in an engineering role that I began to become inspired by others in the field of STEM. There are a lot of people I have been inspired by, in small ways, throughout my career.
I’m an avid believer in James Dyson’s statement that ‘it can’t be done’ is simple not a response and that instead we should focus on creative solutions to show ‘this is how you could do it’. Even if there are ways you would not want to use, they often open up alternative solutions or approaches.
On a leadership level, I’m a big fan of Simon Sineck. His presentation on some leadership topics really chime with me, especially his take on finite (clear rules, clear winner & loser) and infinite (rules may change, by definition no winner) games, and how that applies to the business world.
What challenges have you faced in your engineering career? Can you give us an example of a time you have overcome a challenge you thought you could not do?
Engineering is a constant challenge, if I don’t have challenges I end up seeking them out.
There’s always a fear that what you want to achieve isn’t possible, and almost every solution to a problem creates more problems elsewhere in the product design. There have been many times in my career when I have thought that either we won’t find a working solution, or that I would not be able to keep the team optimistic enough to stay the course and get to the solution. But in engineering, there’s always a way and when you find it as a team, it’s extremely rewarding.
What makes you proud to be an engineer?
Making the world a better place – Engineering is creating the world that doesn’t yet exist, being able to make a positive change to that future, however small, gives me a great amount of satisfaction.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I cycle and climb regularly – both enable you to enjoy your environment, and I enjoy the conflict between competitiveness and support in cycling (you want to win, but you go faster if you co-operate). Climbing has always been important to me because it demands and forces total concentration in the moment, which really helps my mental state when other aspects of life are challenging.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in the field of engineering?
To clarify, I don’t mean go and smash windows or vandalise a bus stop! Take things apart to see how they work - getting them back together is a bonus!.
Practice your creativity; Math and academic learning are important, but curiosity and imagination are far more important. Being creative is a skill, and like any other it can be developed by doing it – things that don’t work along the way are not failures, because they still help you design better the next time you try.
Find out how we can help you with your engineering career at NanoSUN.