Looking forward to the first chats
2006-2010: Brunel University, London (including 2008-2009: Placement year at Medivance Instruments Ltd in London) 2004-2006: Copleston Sixth Form in Ipswich, Suffolk 1999-2004: Copleston High School in Ipswich, Suffolk
Product Design Engineering BSc Hons Product Design, Chemistry, Maths, History A levels General Studies AS level Maths, English Language, English Literature, Double Science, History, Geography, German, Resistant Materials, Art, RE GCSEs
Product Design Engineer on the PDD (Product Design and Development) Team
Brompton Bicycle Limited
Product Design Engineer for Brompton Bicycles Ltd
My job is to design new parts and features for the Brompton folding bike. I’m primarily a mechanical designer, that means I do solid parts and mechanisms. I’ve worked on redesigns of the lighting, saddle range, bell, and grips.
Right now my job is in two sections. I’m doing mechanical work on my main project of redesigning the bike frame’s hinges, and I’m also on secondment (being borrowed) by the Brompton Electric team to help with our eBike, which has a motor to help you pedal. On that project I’m doing software work. I’m writing code that tells the bike how to respond to you when you pedal.
My Typical Day
On “mechanical” days I CAD at my desk, make prototypes in the workshop; on “electric” days I write code in the lab, and test ride bikes around London
Mechanical projects here follow the classic stage-and-gate design process. We define a brief, research to work out a specification, draw sketches and make models, test them, then we model in CAD and test again, iterating until we have something really good. If I’m in an earlier stage of a project I’ll be in and out of the workshop a lot, sketching and making things to try, getting people in the office to help me test. If I’m in a later stage, I’ll be on the computer more, drawing up what I’ve tested in CAD, writing to suppliers and meeting with my colleagues in the Production department so we work out how to get the design into production in large volumes.
When I’m working on Brompton Electric it’s different because code gets modelled and shaped on the computer instead. So the creative phase is a lot of flowcharts, maths, and coding in C. But what it does mean is a lot more test riding, I’ll take the bike out many times a day to see if doing A makes feeling B happen like I thought it would. I can record my rides and check the data afterward. Electric days are like a series of logic puzzles, and the key is to break it down into small tasks and prove out each one before moving on.
My career path: I began to focus on Product Design at A level, did my degree in it, and then worked for a few years on a variety of different things; Six Sigma/Lean manufacturing for a lighting company, mechanical engineering for laser positioning equipment. The job at Brompton came up nearly 4 years ago now, when I got the chance to combine my work and my hobby. I did exclusively mechanical design for 3 years, now I'm also seconded to be doing some software development.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Cycling Scifi Tea
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wasn’t really sure until 6th Form. I thought maybe I’d be an architect or a teacher.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really! We once nearly got in trouble for sticking lots of paper squares to the roof to turn our classroom ceiling into a mosaic – but the head of 6th form decided it was OK in the end.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths earlier on, D&T when I was older
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I’ve been making the electric bike feel really fun and smooth, to tempt people away from driving cars, and I’m really proud of it and excited about the positive climate impact
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I was 17 and applying for University. I found Design really fun and I mostly wanted to be allowed to do a bit of everything, be curious/creative, and make that make a practical difference. It was my D&T teachers, Mr Howard and Mr Froud, who helped me find this career. They encouraged me to come hang out in the workshop making stuff, they showed me examples of how engineers make a difference to people’s everyday lives, and so I got to see that design engineering hit all of my criteria
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
I’d be a behavioural economist – looking at why people make decisions is fascinating
What has surprised you most about a career in Engineering?
I think people don't realise that this is a profession, and we're not in greasy overalls all the time. For me the (welcome) surprise is how much fun we're allowed to have at work; I'm always glad it's acceptable to admit how much we love playing about making stuff
OK, here’s some pics.
First up, my desk. Sometimes I spend a lot of time here, some days almost none:
This is Solidworks, the CAD package we use. I draw up my designs in this.
I’ll add a picture soon of the new saddle, launched recently. I worked on improving the comfort & shape, it also has improved suspension, and an updated nose/carry handle.
Here’s a series of pics showing a little jig I made and 3D printed on Thursday to hold a prototype I need to press.
A couple of good Brompton videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB37ONIpN1Y