Ross Laird - Mechanical Engineer - Thales

Issued: Tue, 18 Aug 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I’ve got a wife, 2 children aged 6 & 15 and a dog called Gus.  My newest hobby is bouldering (rock climbing), I’m not very good at it just now, but I enjoy the challenge!

Tell us about your career journey so far

I graduated from Aberdeen University with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering then completed an MSc in Renewable Energy and the Environment at Strathclyde Uni in 2010. My first job was for a subsea pipeline engineering consultancy in Aberdeen where I learned loads about “pigging” – a fascinating subject and really interesting work.  Then I moved to a company that made Wellheads and Xmas Trees – the equipment that carries the flow of oil and gas out of the oil well and downstream of the rig surface. There, I worked up to being a Lead Engineer.

In 2016 I joined a company that manufacturers Small Wind Turbines as Design Engineer and worked up to being the R&D Engineering Manager.   Recently, I joined Thales in Glasgow a Mechanical Engineer and I currently work on periscope design for submarines. 

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Hands down my favourite subject at school was Mathematics.  I enjoyed the fact that it’s basically just one big puzzle with a set of rules to follow and if you follow them right you get the right answer.  I was dreadful at foreign languages!

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

At school - it helps to have done Maths & Physics to understand the principles of engineering, especially if you go on to further study.  Craft & design was another useful one, as you understand the basics of all sorts of things from metalwork, technical drawings and how things go together. Further education such as a degree in engineering is also great as it helps to deepen your knowledge and add specialisms to your skillset – such as CAD capability, Finite Element Analysis or a specific advanced subject like composite materials or additive manufacture. 

What is a normal day in your role like?

It can vary greatly depending on the project/workloads. Sometimes I’ll conduct various design & verification activities using CAD software and calculation packages.  Sometimes I’ll attend project meetings, review designs with colleagues, write technical documentation, conduct product test activities, meet with customers.  As a mechanical engineer you get the opportunity to be involved in a very wide range activities throughout your day!

What is your favourite thing about your job?

For me it boils down very simply to problem solving – that’s where the satisfaction is. There’s no joy in regurgitating the same old same old every day, so being able to look at a problem that is often challenging, sometimes daunting, but always very rewarding in the end once you crack it.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

Activity: Build a model periscope – see the link

Resources needed:

Some card, mirrors and scissors.



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