Tom Bryon

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

I am completing a placement year at Cummins Inc in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Cummins designs, manufactures and distributes Diesel and Natural gas engines ranging from 2.8 to 95 litres, and is the world's largest manufacturer of engines over 200BHP. These engines are used in a wide range of sectors including Mining, Rail, Marine, Power Generation, Trucks/Busses and Defence. Cummins employs approximately 48,000 people, serving over 190 countries and in 2013 generated a turnover of $17 Billion. At Daventry we specialise in the High Horsepower side of the business with our engines ranging from 30 to 91 litres. 

What is your role within the company?

I work in the Technical Quality Department, which is a team of engineers that work on projects to improve engine performance, reduce engine failures or to make cost savings. It is a unique department to work in as it is split between Daventry and Columbus in the USA, which has its challenges but leads to a diverse and vibrant team. I work on long and comprehensive projects, in my first 6 months I worked on the following projects:

o    The introduction of a new oil lubrication pump for Cummins’ 91 litre engine
o    The analysis of failed bearings for Cummins’ 91 litre engine, followed by the analyses of the new replacement bearings
o    The coordination of a team that solves issues on the development engines of a new variant of Cummins’ 60 litre engine. 

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

A typical day for me varies depending on the project that I am working on, and the stage I am at within that project. It could mean working with the lab to get parts measured; analysing results and presenting my findings; contacting suppliers and customers to discuss details of a new part or design; organising and then chairing a meeting with engineers from the UK and the US; or going to inspect parts at an engine teardown. I wouldn’t use the phrase "everyday is different" but my work does vary week on week and I have the ability to influence what projects I work on to fit my preferences. 

What are you enjoying the most? 

The aspect of my placement that I enjoy the most is the responsibility and being part of a professional environment. At Cummins there is a large number of placement students and everyone is fully immersed within the company with real responsibility and important roles. I get to work with experienced and knowledgeable engineers and have gained so much experience that I would never have got without doing a placement. 

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry, and what are you hoping to get out of this experience? 

I chose to undertake a placement for the experience of working in a professional engineering environment. Employers are always looking for experience and extra skills outside of University, and the industrial placement scheme seemed like a great opportunity to gain extra skills and knowledge. University is great for learning the theory that is required be an engineer, but now I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of the practical side of engineering. During a placement year you also develop as a person, improving communication and presentation skills as well as developing a more mature and professional outlook.I think that I am going to be in a much better position when I go back to complete my degree as I am used to working full days and being in a professional environment, opposed to the student lifestyle of first and second year. 

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

I would highly recommend anyone thinking about doing a placement to go for it. It is a great experience and will help you massively when it comes to finishing university, both in terms of helping you to get a job but it also gives you a feel for what area of engineering you want to work in. In terms of advice for getting a placement I would say apply for as many roles as you can. Even if it is not your dream company it will still give you the experience to help you get there in the future.