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Insights Graduates: Here's how to unlock a dynamic career in Rail

Hi, I'm Jimmy and I'm an Engineer in the Dynamic, Gauging, and Testing (DGT) Team, at AtkinsRéalis.

Photo of Rebecca smiling towards the camera

Jimmy, what do you do in the DGT team in our rail consulting practice in Derby?

To summarize in one simple sentence, in DGT we mainly focus on simulations and modeling to make sure rail vehicles do not derail or damage the tracks and check they don't hit the infrastructure or other vehicles as they make their way around the network. We do this for a range of clients, from Rolling Stock Leasing Companies, Train Manufacturers and Network Operators. As well as working with clients in the UK, we are also supporting numerous projects in Asia and Australia to help other AtkinsRéalis colleagues based in the region. 

What attracted to you to a career in the rail industry?

I was exposed to railways a lot as a child with many visits to heritage railways and my older brother's big Hornby trainset where I would run my Thomas the Tank Engine. I was never into reading fiction books at school, but I would happily sit and read articles out of Railway Magazine talking about the construction of HS1 and the introduction of new trains on the West Coast Mainline.  

My engineering background comes from my dad and granddad who are both engineers, so they always encouraged me to make (and break) things: hovercrafts made with polystyrene takeaway trays, K'nex cranes and remote-control boats.

For someone looking to get into railways, I would recommend starting by just reading magazines about railways as this is a good way of understanding topics without getting too into the technical details.

What is the opportunity or career paths after your graduate scheme?

I've just finished the graduate scheme, so I'm now focusing on developing my skills as a Dynamics and Gauging engineer and taking the lead in projects. I'm also going to start training in a specific technical area which will further support my development, hopefully allowing me to become a subject specialist in a few years.

I'm also keen to explore how I can support our work internationally, with the thought of working aboard at some point in the next few years. 

Are you part of any wider company initiatives outside of your day-to-day role?

Outside of my regular day job as an engineer, I have also been involved in the Transportation and UK Graduate Forums. The purpose of these forums is to improve the experiences of Graduates in the business through organizing initiatives such as fundraising challenges, lunchtime technical training seminars and well-being and mental health workshops. Through running these events we also give graduates a chance to network with colleagues from other parts of the business, who they might not get to work with, but might turn into a useful contact to help on a project in the future!

How would you describe the Derby office community?

I've been lucky enough to have visited a number of offices around the UK while on the Graduate Scheme. But I still think Derby is the best of them all, I grew up in a small rural town so have never been at home in big cities. With the majority of our team based in Derby, it's given me the chance to learn from some very experienced engineers and get involved in several interesting jobs.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

During the week I keep busy with going to local pub quizzes with friends and helping run a local scout group. 

At weekends I spend quite a bit of time at the Nottingham Heritage Railway, where I volunteer on the miniature railway. I get involved in all aspects of running the railway, from maintaining coaches & locos, painting fences, cutting grass, and driving trains. I have my miniature electric locomotive that runs off two car batteries, and will happily pull 3 people around the track for 4-5 hours at a time.

When I'm taking a break from trains, living in Derby means I'm only half an hour's drive from the Peak District, so I quite like to get up earlier on a Sunday to go for a long hike in some beautiful scenery and if I'm lucky, I find a pub where I can get a bowl of chips.

What do ‘engineering a better future for our planet and its people’ mean to you?

To me, this means how can we consider the environmental impact across the entire lifecycle of projects we deliver. When we design something today we want to minimize the emissions during the build phase, but we also need to ensure what we design can be repaired, reused or recycled easily when it is no longer required.