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Insights What’s life like in Early Careers at our Glasgow Rail Practice

Meet David, one of our youngest consultants who bring their skills to a wide range of rail-related projects. He started with Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group in 2021, and has recently started his MSc in Systems Engineering Management at Uni.

"I work with some of the latest innovations in engineering technology and design while helping to overcome complex challenges on our projects." —David Law, Graduate Engineer, Rail Control Systems Glasgow

Photo David in front of a train

David, what do you do in the Glasgow Rail Practice?

Although my department is Rail Systems and Infrastructure, I have the opportunity to get involved in projects covering a wide range of disciplines within the rail sector.

Within my first year of working for Atkins, I've been involved in accessibility audits of train stations, Systems Engineering, a feasibility study for redesigning a station focusing on the impacts to signalling and telecoms, Systems Integration for the Glasgow Subway modernization and System Architecture Design for High Speed Two (HS2).

What has been your most memorable project so far?

I've recently started working in Systems Integration for Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), where they're modernizing the Glasgow Subway. Nicknamed the 'Clockwork Orange' due to its clockwise/anticlockwise circular route and distinctive orange colour scheme, Glasgow Subway is the world's third oldest underground railway.

The upgrades include new rolling stock, signalling and control system, operational control centre, and the introduction of Unattended Train Operation (UTO). With such large-scale upgrades, I'm exposed to some of the latest engineering technology and design innovations. I'm also trusted to pitch in and help tackle complex challenges on our projects.

It's great to be involved in modernizing such a historic metro system.

What's the community like in the Glasgow office?

We have a great mix of people from different disciplines in rail sector and beyond. Before taking up my position, the Rail Consultancy Team invited me to a social to meet everyone in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It made my first few weeks of work much easier, as I'd already been introduced to everyone.

I've since built a network of colleagues and friends with whom I enjoy working, and I never have difficulty asking anyone at Atkins for assistance or advice. Because of the great experience I had when I started, I'm keen to reach out to any new graduates that join and offer them the same warm welcome and help that was (and continues to be) extended to me.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Here are my top three:

With such a variety of work available, I have the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects. This has helped me gain skills within my field and beyond and keeps the work interesting.

I have received great encouragement for further learning, attending courses in cyber security and basic signalling technology, and I will soon be sitting an exam for the Institution of Railway Signalling Engineers (IRSE). The investment I'm receiving makes me feel valued and helps me do my job better.

The flexible working approach of working from home and in the office has helped me increase my efficiency and enjoyment of work while still building great relationships with my colleagues.

What's your passion outside of work?

I enjoy weight training, running and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to keep myself active. I like going to football and ice hockey, watching films, and listening to music to chill out.

Photo David on a hike

What's your advice to people who discover their career direction later?

My latest focus has been my drive to carve out a career for myself. After nine years of working in call centres and administrative roles, I returned to education at 27. I completed a year of "Access to STEM," followed by an HNC and a BEng (Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering. While on Atkins' graduate scheme, I'm also doing a Master's degree part-time.

My advice to anyone looking to return to education is to not let your age or the time commitment discourage you. Your life experience is more valuable than you think, and the time will pass anyway, so make it count!

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