You may be a Mechanical Engineer, but having good knowledge about electrical systems is going to become more and more important in the future.
Verified by an engineer
Ashvinder graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Portsmouth University and has worked in the oil, gas, water, steam and power 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, “We are mainly in power and process – so wherever someone needs steam, such as the power generation, food and beverage sector, manufacturing, hospitals and so on. My role is to be the technical expert on anything the company gets involved in. It’s one of the things I love about being an engineer – it’s challenging, there are always new concepts to learn about and we are constantly problem solving. You can have many solutions for a single problem and none of them is wrong, as such, but finding the one that is right is the challenge. That’s what I enjoy.”
Why the Electrical Schematics course?
“With the breadth of sectors STL Power & Process Controls are involved in and the size of the company, it’s impossible to have experts in each field. So, it's a case of multitasking and learning more than one skill. We provide process valves, controls and engineering solutions to our clients – and many of the products we sell are electro-mechanical. There are always electrical wiring diagrams which need revising or nuance created for specific projects.
Although we covered some electrical knowledge at university, we didn’t look at wiring diagrams. Plus, that was some time ago – I’m 50 – and if you don’t apply knowledge, it’s soon forgotten. I had already taken the IMechE Electrical Principles course and found that really useful. My company asked me what subjects I’d like to brush up on, and I knew for sure I was lacking knowledge on wiring diagrams. Electrical Schematics was a great fit for that. The aim of going on the course was to get to a level where I can understand wiring diagrams and modify them if I have to.”
What was your experience of the course?
“The moment I knew I needed to do this course was when I was on site with one of our service engineers and we were looking at a wiring diagram. The drawing had these references and I had no clue what they meant. I found them really hard to interpret. I now know they were simply references to another diagram, as you can only put so much detail in one drawing. It seems so obvious now I’ve completed the course!
“There were 12 of us on the day, all from different sectors and with varying degrees of experience and knowledge. It was really interesting to hear from people in different industries describe their issues. The trainer led us through on a presentation and when we got to the end of a section, we’d look at a case study or complete a worksheet to check we understood and could apply what we had just learned. It worked really well.”
What are the key reasons someone should attend the Electrical Schematics course?
- If you are a Mechanical Engineer like me, you’ll be familiar with symbols for valves and so on. Maybe not so much with all the different electrical symbols! This course will bring you up to speed on that.
- You may be a Mechanical Engineer but having good knowledge about electrical systems is going to become more and more important in the future.
- 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?
Our Technical Consultant and contract Service Engineers are currently the only electrical biased engineers in our business. Now, I can start helping on drawing or modifying electrical diagrams. They will still have to be checked by others for the time being, but I should be able to do that on my own in the future. That’s work that has been subbed out in the past. I’ll be able to assist colleagues and it will make me a much more effective member of the organisation.
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
- Take a few examples of things you are having issues with – the trainer will go through them and help you find solutions
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if your query seems too simple. Everyone else will probably be thinking the same thing!
- It’s never too late to learn! I thought I was too old, but I was proved wrong. Go with an open mind.
“The overlap between electrical and mechanical engineering seems to grow by the day, especially with the line of work we are in. The control rooms are made up of multiple programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and these are the interface with all the instruments in the field. So, the next course I’d like to take is one that covers PLC programming.
“When I left university, I didn’t join the IMechE. I can’t recall why. But now I do want to become a member of the IMechE, so courses like this will help me get CPD credits and gain chartered status.”