Saad Ali

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for Cummins Turbo Technologies, based in Huddersfield, which is one of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturer of turbochargers. It is a subsidiary of Cummins Inc., a Fortune 500 company, which designs and manufactures diesel engines for various industries; automotive, mining, and marine to name a few. 

Working for a multinational company and immersing myself in the global community culture of Cummins has been a hugely rewarding experience for me. 

What is your role within the company?

I help to produce turbochargers for a variety of different markets, which brings with it a number of challenges. To completely grasp the knowledge required to tackle these challenges, Cumming Turbo Technologies has set up an engineering rotation programme for industrial placement students. 

I’m rotating between four departments encompassing different areas of engineering such as laboratory operations, product engineering, and design technology. 

For my first placement, I worked in laboratory operations where I was responsible for developing the testing facilities for a number of turbocharger tests. I was fortunate enough to join the department at a time where I had an opportunity to work on projects that were pushing the envelope of testing capabilities. I worked in multidisciplinary teams and learned to build good relationships with engineers, technicians, operators, suppliers, and customers. In addition, I led four customer facing projects for which I had to provide a solution in a timely manner whilst keeping safety, cost, and performance all in perspective. 

A typical day on placement

One of the best things about working in different areas of engineering is that the typical day varies according to your job role and sometimes there isn’t such a thing as a typical day. I quickly learned how broad the field of engineering can be and adaptability is vital. 

For my second rotation as product engineer, a typical day would involve a mix of hands-on and analysis work directly for the customer. Since there are millions of turbochargers made that go on engines all over the world, reliability is of great importance. As a product engineer, we have to ensure this is reflected in our work and our products. My day would start with prioritising a list of projects and task; from introduction of new product, resolving field issues, to cost reduction. A day would normally involve working with all the various disciplines of engineering including aerodynamics, applied mechanics, and testing. I would follow Cummins processes to ensure quality of products is of highest standards and delivered in most efficient manner with the lowest cost possible. 

My placement has also enabled me to obtain invaluable training of Six Sigma, Problem Solving, and Fault Tree Analysis, it is an incredible learning experience.

What are you enjoying the most and are you involved in any interesting projects? 

I enjoy progress; learning and developing myself both in my professional and personal life gives me satisfaction. Starting out in my professional life, every day I get to do new things and it becomes a learning experience and incredibly enjoyable one. 

For my third rotation, I worked in the engine air systems department, and the best part of it is that every day is different. The department itself deals with topics which are very unique and new. There is plenty of opportunity to dive into very technical side of turbomachinery and engines. During my time there, I have developed tools to carry out analysis for intellectual property which I found very interesting. I am learning about the complexities associated with turbocharging and it has helped me develop curiosity to try answer the technically difficult questions. 

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I realised early in university that alongside excellent technical skills, interpersonal and communication skills are crucial in industry. I am very passionate about engineering and I wanted to develop the skills required to drive my ideas. I sought to develop myself in both professional and personal life, and a year in industry offered both. 

In addition, Cummins take quite a few placement students for their graduate programme so it was an opportunity to experience the company culture first hand. The relationships you build and the connections you make during your time in placement are invaluable. 

What are you hoping to get out of this experience? 

The experience certainly helps you identify your strengths and areas where you can improve. I hope to take the learning with me for my Masters and tailor my education to my interests further. Furthermore, Cummins has Monitor Professional Development Scheme MPDS scheme, and I am provided with a mentor; it allows to me keep track of my development and work towards my chartership with IMechE.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

It is important that you enjoy what you do as it allows you to persevere. When it comes to applying, treat it as if you are just sharing your interests and activities with an old friend and the honesty comes across in your cover letters and interviews. I’d say integrity is quite a good thing to have in general too.