I was thinking to myself, ‘Am I too old to be doing this?’ But as the other delegates turned up, I could see there was a real mixture of experience and ages. There were no two people from the same industry…. There were only 12 of us but it was a brilliant mix
Verified by an engineer
Ashvinder graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Portsmouth University and has worked in the oil, gas, water, steam and power supply industries. During his career, he has specialised in applications within the instrumentation, control valve, valve actuation and mixing industries, working across the UK, Europe and on projects in the Middle East. Ashvinder is a Technical Manager at STL Power & Process Controls. He says, “My role is to be the technical expert on anything the company gets involved in. That often means supporting our project managers and being a second pair of eyes to check things over. Also, there are always new technical products coming onto the market and I have to assess them and relay that information to the rest of the company.”
Why the Electrical Principles course?
“As part of my Mechanical Engineering degree, we did some modules on electrical principles and also electronics. But that was 26 years ago! If you don’t apply knowledge, it is easy to forget things. I needed to refamiliarise myself with the area. I did look at some books and on the internet to try to refresh my knowledge but I found there were sometimes contradictions. I feel there’s nothing like a face-to-face course – you can ask questions if something is unclear and that really appealed to me.
“Many people I am working with on site are on the electronics side – it’s important I am confident that I understand what they are talking about. Plus, many of the instruments we use in the field are electro-mechanical and I want to be able to understand how they work, too. These were some of the important reasons of why my company was willing to put me on a refresher course. The owner of the company is a chartered member of the IMechE and he recommended the course.”
What was your experience of the course?
“Before I started the course, I was worried it would be full of young people at the start of their career. I’m 50, after all. On the day, I was the first one to arrive and was thinking to myself, ‘Am I too old to be doing this?’ But as the other delegates turned up, I could see there was a real mixture of experience and ages. There were no two people from the same industry. There were a couple of people who worked in administration who I guess had the least experience right up to ex-service personnel with years of really hands-on knowledge. There were only 12 of us but it was a brilliant mix.
“The trainer took us through the presentations and, at the end of a section, we would go through worksheets. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and it was a great way of learning. I still keep the worksheets on my desk as they are so handy.
“There was a moment when I knew it was absolutely worth it. For years, I have been unsure of the difference between relays and contactors, and it has always bugged me. I have never fully understood nor felt able to ask. Then when we covered them in the course, it finally became clear. I thought, “Yes, at last, I understand!”
What are the key reasons someone should attend the Electrical Principles course?
- If you are not from an electrical background and require some basic knowledge or grounding in the area, the Electrical Principles course is perfect
- It’s a great refresher course if you are a Mechanical Engineer and you haven’t used your electrical knowledge for a few years
- It’s really useful to meet people from other industries and sectors to hear of the issues they are facing.
What’s been the impact?
“In the past, when someone mentioned a holding relay or a latching relay, I was struggling. So, I didn’t want a course where I found myself drowning in electrical jargon. This course was at just the right level, though. So, terms like holding or latching relays make sense now. It’s given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.”
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – nothing was considered too simple or silly. All of us were glad when someone asked a question, as we were all thinking the same thing
- It’s never too late to learn! I thought I was too old, but I was proved wrong.
- If you can, bring a problem or issue you have to talk about.
“It’s odd but when I left university, I didn’t join the IMechE. The opportunity was there but I just didn’t join. I can’t recall why I didn’t take it up. However, I do want to become a member of the IMechE now, so courses like this will help me get my credits on my journey to chartered status.
“I’ve already signed up for the next course that follows this one, called Electrical Schematics. It will be really useful for my role at work. We are not a large company, so everyone has to multitask and have more than one skill – completing more training is good for both the company and me.”