Plentiful opportunities for this engineering graduate

August 5, 2021 - Martin Currie

Engineering graduate Agata Chmielewska writes about her college experience...

I moved with my 16 years old son to Scotland in August 2014. I didn’t speak English at all at this time. I knew just a few words.

I started ESOL English classes straight away organised by local council. Then in February 2015, I started English classes at the Kilmarnock Campus.

In August 2017 my English still wasn’t perfect but I was confident enough to apply for a college course to improve my English and gain some engineering vocabulary in English. I finished at the University of Technology in Wroclaw (Poland) getting my Masters in Biomedical Engineering in 2011.

I applied for Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering courses at Ayrshire College. By mistake, I marked Biomedical Engineering as the first choice and I was successful, so never was taken into account for Mechanical Engineering. Biomedical Engineering in UK is more like a Medical based course wherein Poland is more like Engineering based. I decided the Biomedical Engineering is not what I would like to do then.

I went for an Open Day at Kilmarnock Campus and looked for still available Engineering Courses. There were places available on Access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths so I signed for it. After the first-week, Maths teacher Allan Carpenter asked the question if after this week somebody feels that the course is not for them and wants to speak with him about their doubts. I went to speak to him, and I have got great help and support (from himself and Pola) to move to a different course.

I moved to HNC Mechanical Engineering and that was just the right course and level for me at this time. I really enjoyed all classes and I have got a lot of support. My English improved rapidly so did my confidence. I have got my HNC diploma Grade A in June 2018.

The same year I applied for HND Mechanical engineering and I have got my HND diploma grade B in June 2019. I was awarded ‘Student of the Year – Engineering and Science’ in this year. It was really nice as for me all my hard work was awarded.

During my HND course, I have applied for the Modern Apprenticeship Programme with a local company that advertised in College. I was chosen for one week of work experience in December 2018. In January 2019 I started a full-time job in this company (2.5 days at college and 2.5 days at work) to finish my HND course. In October 2019, me and the company signed Modern Apprenticeship Programme Engineering Maintenance (Multi-skilled).

For the Modern Apprenticeship Programme, there was requirements for the PEO course, so I applied for that and finished it in June 2020 at Kilmarnock College (3 days at work 2 days at College).

I really like my hands-on job as it is very creative. I like the way my brain is occupied at work, so I feel satisfied. I am an outdoor person, so the good side of this job is that I work very often on sites.

Choosing a multi-skilled option for Apprenticeship (advice from College Assessor) was the best option for me.

Besides improving the mechanical part I am learning a lot in the electrical (electronic) part which is quite challenging. Challenge and learning new skills is what I like about life.

I have never been treated unfairly because of my gender or being a foreigner. Sometimes men at sites find me, being a girl in this kind of job, as curious but in a nice, not nasty way.

What I like about engineering is that it is always an opportunity to grow, improve and learn. The main principles may stay the same but there is so many new inventions and technologies that it never becomes boring.

There are so many ways for a job path as well.

I was doing an HND diploma project at Allan White Design which is a Civil Engineering company based in Kilmarnock. The Company offered me The Apprenticeship Programme with the cooperation of Glasgow University to gain a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering while working at Allan White Design. I declined this offer and decided to continue with the company I was working for….

…. but as you can see the opportunities in engineering are uncountable.


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