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Chatting with engineering apprentice: Dylan Halpin

Each month we celebrate our engineering community who are flying the flag for STEM in the UK!


The 2016 Engineering UK report highlights that companies are projected to need 182,000 additional people with engineering skills each year until 2022. Why should we – and more importantly – why should you care? The need for engineers and those with STEM qualifications is critical to the UK infrastructure and our development of new technologies, which will have a significant impact on the UK’s economy.

One of the biggest challenges for Thales in the UK is breaking the stereotypes, debunking the myths and demystifying what an engineer does; shaping a sustainable future by crafting solutions to everyday problems we face. Sustainability and diversity are two pinnacles of our ability to innovate, so Thales is striving to champion opportunities for everyone – regardless of demographic or background – to pursue careers in engineering.

The path to reduce the gender gap may not be as clear. For every parent, young person and teacher, it's important to recognise the part you play in solving this problem.

Dylan Halpin, a rail engineering apprentice at Thales UK, shares with us her experience on how she started working for Thales.

"I have always had a passion for maths, particularly as my father was a big influencer in this regard. This led me to pursue studying maths for my A-levels, however whilst making a choice for my course, I discovered Electronic and Electrical Engineering. I fell in love with it during those two years, which led to my decision to study Engineering at university. A twist of events around student finance meant that I missed the start date of the course, and I decided I didn't want to study something else or wait another year. Instead, I chose to pursue a rail engineer apprenticeship with Thales. I'm now in my second year in the scheme working with Thales, based at Waterloo Station, and I love it.


“My day to day role is working in a great team of radio engineers that test the voice quality of messages passed over the connect radio system, which Thales has manufactured. We test the signal strength in places that anyone working on the station might need, to ensure they are able to make contact for help if necessary. With the data collected they produce a report to highlight problem areas or deterioration in quality, so that it can be corrected and retested to ensure London Underground has a complete coverage of service. These radios are a lifeline to all who use the tube."

You're working with London Underground, which is the world's third longest system with 250 miles worth of track. How interesting a place is it to work?

"I get to explore the unseen rooms of London Underground. I visit all of the stations across the Tube network to test the frequency and reception of each room, as well as intervention points in the tunnels. Like any urban explorer would understand, the disused trains and platforms are exciting to visit. Just last week we visited the spot in the Green Park station, which Winston Churchill had used as an underground bunker.

"Whilst in college, I was a STEM ambassador. I visited primary schools to engage with children and promote STEM subjects. It was inspiring to see the kids' thought processes – they have a diverse way of problem-solving, just like engineers do.  It's important to celebrate the diverse way we think and tackle problems!

"I work with a wonderful team of people with diverse minds, all of whom are from different disciplines and ages with a range of experience. These people have taught me a lot and been helpful when it comes to offering career advice. Recently, two other female apprentices have joined, so we are a diverse team in an inclusive environment. I'm very happy where I am."

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue a career in engineering?

"There are a lot of everyday things that solutions need to be found for, which keeps the job open-ended and gives a lot of scope for growth and specialisation. I would advise them to take on as much experience as possible, as this helps to gain knowledge from people that have been in the industry for years, but once you find something that challenges and interests you, stick with it to learn as much as possible!  As our social requirements evolve, so does the complexity of problems within society. It is important to have this thought process to look at things in a different light. Engineering opens a world of possibilities for your career. If you want an exciting job with many avenues for growth, choose engineering!"