James Kincell is an Electronics Engineer at Waters Corporation, a company that specialises in analytical science laboratory equipment. The UK division in Wilmslow focuses on Mass Spectrometry Research, Design and Manufacture, where James is a part of the Electronics Design Team. He has an MEng (Hons) in Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester.
Here he tells us about his experiences in the Electronics industry and thoughts on the future…
I’ve always had a natural curiosity into how things work from a young age, and my parents were quite supportive of this. I have a very early memory of completely disassembling an old Olivetti Computer (with permission!) when I was about 8, and then being amazed that it still worked after reassembling it. (I can’t remember what model it was, but I do know it was MS-DOS.) My dad is not very technical with electronics (he’s a businessman!) but was always very supportive and taught me from an early age. I have fond memories of building up Velleman electronics kits with him, and then trying to figure out how they worked from the included schematics. (My mum and uncle still use the kitchen timer I built them too, which isn’t bad going!) It was when I started doing Electronics at A-level though that I really began to learn interesting and exciting stuff – I found it so rewarding to then be able to take a problem, design and make a solution to it, which was all work of my own. I do think it’s a shame that Electronics A-Level isn’t as accessible as other mainstream subjects; I myself had to travel 30 mins from home to go to a sixth-form college that taught it.
I always say to people that in a nutshell, Electronics is the art of taking problems and situational hindrances and creating something that solves/improves that. But, it is so much more! I don’t think many people realise that Engineers are the ones responsible for designing and creating all of today’s gadgets and technology that we now take for granted – from the ubiquitous smartphone, to the 4G network technology that is up there with daylight and running water! So much of the technology that we find ourselves relying on and taking for granted is thanks to the behind the scenes work of Electronics Engineers.
What I thoroughly enjoy is that I get to work on electronics designs for seriously sophisticated equipment, and it is so rewarding that the equipment is changing the world for the better, making consumables safe and improving healthcare, to name a couple. I have been able to work on quite a wide range of areas (from totally analogue to pure digital systems) and working with a team of super talented people makes work enjoyable. I frequently leave work at the end of the day having learned something new!
Electronics is definitely here to stay, it’s quite impressive just how much it is spreading into everyday items – people laughed at me when I said ten years ago that I wanted a computer screen in my car! Even simple things like toothbrushes and electric shavers are now coming with Bluetooth to improve the way we use them. The “Internet of Things” is snowballing in popularity, and so we need Electronics Engineers to fulfil this progression into the future.
I’m quite fascinated by home automation, and creating a custom system has been a bit of a home-hobby of mine for a while now, bringing all the IoT devices together into one system. I think this is a sector of technology that is going to see significant development and be more commonplace in the very near future, and I can’t wait to see how it develops professionally. Also, I must mention the obvious one – self-driving electric cars – that is going to change transport so much. I always say, self-driving cars won’t “rubber-neck” and slow down to look at a lorry with a flat tyre! Anything that can make our roads safer with less congestion has got to be a good thing, and engineers will definitely lead those changes!