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Meet an Employee workshops on Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery

Recently the Science Museum celebrated its one millionth visitor to Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery. The student was part of class from a London school, who was taking part in one of the gallery’s free Meet an Employee workshops.

Each workshop in Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery gives students the chance to meet a real technician and experience what it’s like to do their job through hands-on activities and a Q&A session.

To mark the one millionth visitor milestone, we caught up with two other technicians who deliver our Meet an Employee workshops to find out more about what they do and their journey to becoming a technician. 

Nusayba Abaas who is 22, joined HS2’s construction partner, Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA (BBVS), as a civil engineering apprentice in 2021. She’s part of the engineering team building HS2’s new super-hub station at Old Oak Common in West London, the largest new station to be built in Europe. 

Nusayba said: ‘I did my GCSEs and went on to do Chemistry, Physics and Maths at A Level. During my sixth form I also did my work experience with an engineering consultancy. I then tried a Physics degree for a year, but as it was a Covid year, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought. I knew about degree apprenticeships from my teachers and that they were a good alternative route to go down, so I found this apprenticeship and successfully applied. It was a big decision to change pathways, but now I feel it was the best decision for me – plus it taught me that its ok to change your mind to find what works for you!’ 

‘As a Civil Engineering apprentice, my role rotates every six months which is great because it gives me variety and different experiences in different places. Currently I’m in the Quality Management team, but I have also worked in the Construction, Design Management and Planning teams. Getting to see different industry functions and how they interact gives me a wide view of what Civil Engineering really involves. We’re also given freedom to be innovative and allowed to experiment within our assigned tasks which isn’t something that people thinking about this career might expect we are allowed to do.’ 

‘The impact of a civil engineering technician is hidden behind the scenes, but everything around us is built by us in some way or another – from stations and hospitals, to homes even museums – everything we use day-to-day is impacted by the work of civil engineers. It’s rewarding to know that the projects we technicians work on positively impact people’s lives, even without them knowing it.’ 

Munir Saleh, who is 24, joined Imperial College London’s technician apprenticeship scheme in 2020. After completing the course, he joined the university as an Electronics Research Workshop Technician in the Department of Physics and now focuses on complex Printed Circuit Board (PCB) designs that are headed for CERN, the largest physics experiment in the world. 

Munir said: ‘At secondary school, my favourite subjects were graphic design, design and technology and maths. Also as a kid I was always taking things apart and building things so knowing I was a hands-on practical learner, I decided to do a BTEC in General Engineering. After this I didn’t know what type of engineering I wanted to do, there are so many types of engineering out there, from mechanical to software or electrical! I found the Imperial Mechatronics Apprenticeship Scheme which gave me experience in all these fields and after I graduated, I decided to specialise as a Research Electronics Engineering Technician.’ 

‘My main day to day activity is problem solving in the lab. I work with professors and researchers on specific and unique projects to help give them solutions, including designing and building circuit boards (what makes electronics work) with a variety of sensors. So e.g., if they need to grab data, sense the change in atoms in an environment – we’re there to support, provide, build, and maintain these devices, and maintain our laboratory making sure everything is working correctly. It’s a creative team working space.’ 

The best part of my job is being an enabler – creating something from an idea that helps to push a project forward and ultimately get results. Its also great to be working on so many projects and watch their progression over time. I also get to travel for work, so recently I went to Switzerland to the CERN Hyper-K Neutrino Program which is looking to understand this fundamental building block of our universe. To know that some of my PCB designs are involved in that significant project is just amazing.’ 

Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery is a free interactive gallery which champions the vital but unseen role of technicians and seeks to change perceptions of technical careers. 

Young people can go behind the scenes and explore the roles of technicians working in advanced manufacturing, creative industries, health science and renewable energy to explore where technicians work, hear their inspirational stories, and experience daily life as a technician. 

If your class wants to explore different technician roles and discover more about the varied routes into these important careers you can book a free Meet an Employee workshop here.