Atkins assistant telecoms engineer Andre Blackwood talks about working on the Bank London Underground project and gaining his EngTech qualification
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on designing the new telecommunications systems for Bank London Underground station. This includes removal of outdated analogue systems for new Internet Protocol-based closed circuit television, passenger help points and customer information systems all controlled by a new Station Management System.
What major projects have you worked on in the past?
The first project I worked on was the Birmingham Gateway Project which is the £600M upgrade of Birmingham New Street Station. I have also worked on the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Project which is the £650M upgrade of the line between Glasgow and Edinburgh and also the Peterborough Station upgrade project.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Currently the most challenging aspect of my job is managing and prioritising all the various tasks I have to complete.
At the start of the day I might have a clear idea of what I would like to achieve, but by the time you have attended a meeting and got actions, spoken to the client and got new information from manufacturers Ihave to reprioritise and update what I need to do.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I enjoy getting to see a project develop from seeing drawings that you produce on paper turn in to physical working systems that are installed on stations the public use every day.
Why did you decide to go down the EngTech route?
Gaining the EngTech qualification was a part of the Atkins apprenticeship scheme I was on. The scheme was the start of my engineering career and has given me the right habits such as recording the work I do and setting goals and targets which will now allow me to progress.
What do you feel the advantages are to the EngTech qualification?
EngTech is an internationally recognised qualification and achieving it is recognition that your engineering skills are at a certain level. It also lets other people know you are competent at your job, meaning you have technical engineering knowledge which you can use for practical applications.
What helps you to learn most effectively?
I am learning about Cisco networking through online tutorials and interactive assessments which put the theoretical knowledge into practice. This combination is how I learn best.
What’s next in your career?
After gaining more experience in my current role I would like to work on larger projects such as High Speed 2 or even work abroad to develop a broader range of engineering skills. I can progress by gaining wider engineering skills such as bidding or project management and use these to gain the Incorporated Engineer (IEng) qualification and maybe become a Chartered Engineer (CEng) sometime in the future.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in rail telecoms?
First of all I would say go for it, it’s a great field to work in. Then be flexible, as rail projects can be all over the country, so you might have to travel, be inquisitive ask people in the industry questions to find out what it’s like on a day to day basis.
Finally, get some work experience. Atkins has a great work experience scheme where school students come for a week and see what rail telecoms engineers actually do.