Darren Bearne – MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduate

Current Employer: Babcock

Current Job Title: Electrical and Electronic Design Engineer

Current Location: Devonport Royal Dockyard, Plymouth

“My favourite memory of studying at Plymouth University was carrying out practical work within a laboratory environment. This sparked an interest in programming of embedded systems and communications – something which I did not have before I attended University!”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduating, I have worked for Babcock within their Graduate Scheme. This has included working around multiple areas within the business, getting a real insight into a vast engineering company. I have now completed the scheme and am working within a weapons based Electrical and Electronic Design Engineer role.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

My degree completely changed my career path. Prior to starting the degree I worked within a customer service based role. University opened up a completely different path for me and has provided me with the knowledge and skillset to obtain my role of responsibility with my current employer. I particularly enjoyed the practical programming and communications aspects of the degree; these have formed the basis for my future role within my current employment.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Since graduating, I have remained at Babcock on the graduate scheme. The scheme has been very diverse, ranging from project management to design. This has included working on communications systems, the high voltage dockyard supplies, nuclear submarines, and weapons based systems. This has resulted in a technical design role which will further the knowledge I gained from my university degree. The company is committed to graduate development with training and progression to Chartership.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Working on such a large and varied site, with a change in placement every two to three months is like a new job every time! Following completion of the degree, the next aim is to achieve Chartership which will be possible with the skills and knowledge learnt at university combined with the support of my employer mentoring scheme.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Working within the weapons environment and putting knowledge learnt at university into the workplace, including programming on the platforms used within the university practical sessions. I have also been involved with the company‘s support of STEM events and University Careers Fair days. These have enabled me to promote engineering to a wider audience.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

During my degree, I only worked for one summer. If I could go back, I would work during each summer period in an industrial placement. This would have given me more of an insight into applying my engineering knowledge in the workplace. The use of industrial placements also gives opportunities for sponsorship and building experience in industry through the final year project selection.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

The degree is hard work, but very varied and has opened the door to an excellent career which offers a wealth of interest and development. The broad range of the degree in both theoretical and practical knowledge has been vital throughout my career. Prior to my degree I completed an engineering foundation year, which helped boost my key knowledge in the physics and mathematical areas and helped greatly throughout the degree.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The Plymouth course has been structured to meet the needs of businesses with a focus on practical, hands-on experience underpinned by a theoretical basis. The key project during the final year of the Bachelor’s degree offered the chance to handle an engineering project, providing an excellent talking point at graduate interviews.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

The course was structured to suit industry – some key topics including digital signal processing, communications, embedded systems programming, engineering mathematics, and control engineering. These skills, combined with the nature of studying a degree course, have shaped me for my engineering career.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

During the degree I carried out a summer work placement. This was achieved through discussions with an employer during the final year project Open Day. This gave me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and apply my skills to industry. This experience helped with further development during my degree and also my current employment.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My favourite memory of studying at Plymouth University was carrying out practical work within a laboratory environment. This sparked an interest in programming of embedded systems and communications – something which I did not have before I attended University! These interests have aided my selection of a technical role with my employer.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

I attend Open Days on behalf of the company, where I got to meet up with fellow students and lecturers. I also recently attended IET re-accreditation with other employers from industry.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes, due to the career potential that it has opened up! I now have a career which I could only have dreamed of prior to completing my degree. The balance of theoretical and practical development during the degree has given an excellent balance which provides the fundamentals and hand-on skills for tackling industrial challenges.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying electrical and electronic engineering, please visit our MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering course page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the Faculty of Science and Engineering are currently doing, please visit the engineering and robotics interest area.