Jill Lawton – Design Engineer, Rotork Gears R&D, Leeds
In truth I never set out to be an Engineer. I think the first time I actually considered it was looking through university prospectuses aged 17, when I realised that was the career for me.
My dad always delighted in telling me and my sisters about Brunel’s bridges, steam powered vehicles and which bit of the car needed fixing to pass the MOT, as well as building experiments with us, such as water rockets, electrical circuits and exploding cornflour. This, coupled with my mum’s love of animals, and a real need to build their pens, hutches and shelters, mostly from old pallets, fostered a love of making things and desire to understand the world around me from an early age.
I completed my Masters in Mechanical Engineering at University of Leeds in 2008, achieving a 2:1. Thanks to two summer placements and my third year project run at the automotive firm WABCO, I was able to demonstrate practical implementation of engineering principles and industrial experience to be accepted onto the KTP programme. I ran a project to research and test low friction sliding materials for bridge bearings, which proved fascinating both technically and commercially, but also gave valuable insight that your competitors will try and patent anything.
I started at Rotork in 2010 working on the Gears nuclear product range, which over the years has seen me involved in all aspects, from customer enquiries and orders, to product upgrade and qualification testing. Whilst it may include a great deal of reviewing product standards, and specifications, it opened the absorbing subject area of seismic design and testing. In October 2016 I moved into R&D, to begin designing new products, which rather than being defined primarily by qualification standards, were instead more influenced by customer’s need and cost, and as such an interesting new challenge.