A new week, a new set of questions and chats. Bring it on!
My engineering career is pretty short with this being my first “proper” job but before then I’ve been a waiter numerous times (I once waited on J K Rowling). I’ve also been a Software Tester and worked in a call centre.
I work for Thales UK.
I am a software engineer that creates programs that are part of a project that controls unmanned air vehicles.
As a Software Engineer, I write computer programs in C++ (a programming language) for a project called Watchkeeper. Watchkeeper is a UAV or Unmanned Air Vehicle.
The goal of Watchkeeper is to provide surveillance and reconnaissance from any location to the people who need it. One of the interesting things about Watchkeeper is that it can take off and land itself so you don’t need to be a pilot to be able to fly it. You just click on a place on the map and Watchkeeper will fly there and can show you some images it can see.
My Typical Day
I come in, I sit down and I write computer programs. What programs? What do they do? Well that changes from day to day…
There are a number of requirements associated with each project I’m working on. Usually my goal for that day is to make sure the program fulfills that requirement. Because the requirements for each project are usually vastly different it can mean programming in a completely different way then you were the day before. Recently I’ve been working on programs that test other programs I’ve created to make sure they work correctly.
What I'd do with the money
I think we need a new generation of British computer programmers and game developers.
In the 80’s there was a huge boom in home computing when the ZX Spectrum was released and with it came a whole generation of British computer programmers. These ZX Spectrums were so popular because they were cheap and easy to use. This led the way to a whole generation of bedroom programmers. These days, programming has fallen out of fashion and you have to look pretty hard to find it in a school’s curriculum and that’s one thing I think should change.
Learning to program teaches logical thinking, problem solving and the ability to think creatively. These are all great skills that can be used in almost any job even if that job doesn’t have programming in it.
The only problem is how to bring this change about? With the money, I would hope to provide local schools with new, ultra cheap computers like the new Raspberry Pi and maybe give up some time to visit the schools and show how they work and how they can be used.
This is a picture of the Raspberry Pi with one of the founders of the company. Not me.
[The end of a report or essay is usually where you put where you stole all your ideas from. It’s called citing and it’s OK to steal as long as you cite your sources! I have to admit that I shamelessly stole the idea of buying Raspberry Pi’s or other single board computers from Andrew Hearn, another engineer in the event. If you like the idea then helping him win too would mean twice as much money for the idea.]
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inquisitive, sociable, energetic
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Oasis but close behind is Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses and The Shins.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
That’s a tough one. Seeing Oasis live in Manchester is definitely up there. I once went on this huge “Superman” ride that was set up on a pier in Blackpool. That was very fun but absolutely terrifying when you realise the only thing keeping this ride up is an old wooden pier.
What did you want to be after you left school?
When I left secondary school I had no concrete job in mind but I always wanted to design/create video games and since I enjoyed Physics I did Computational Physics at uni.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Occasionally but only for silly things.
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Having not been an engineer for very long I haven’t really *done* very much but being given my own project to complete without having someone constantly looking over my shoulder as to how I was doing was really refreshing.
Tell us a joke.
I never wanted to believe that my Dad was stealing from his job as a road worker. But when I got home, all the signs were there.