This article was first published in 2020, when Yassin Rostom was an Electronics Engineer in MK Test’s NPD team.
Yassin originally joined MK Test Systems for his placement year during his Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree course at the University of Plymouth. He subsequently returned to work at MK as an Electronics Engineer following his graduation. An extremely engaging and bubbly guy, Yassin was very happy to chat about his experiences not just as MK Test, but in coming from Egypt to study and work in the UK.
You first joined MK Test Systems for your placement year. Tell us more about your course and why you applied to MK for your placement.
There’s a bit of a story here because I first went to university in Egypt. I was doing electromechanical, and in my country the courses are theoretically driven but I realised that’s not enough – you need to know how to do things with your hands.
I picked Plymouth University because the course is so hands-on and that was my main motive. I always believed that to secure a job, I needed to do a placement and get to know the industry and get to meet people.
I applied to several companies and had my interview with Alan (MK Test’s Engineering Director) on March 9th 2017. I remember that day because it was my first ever interview. It was a really big thing – my first interview, and with an engineering director and a senior engineer. I was really nervous.
I started my placement in July 2017. The thing I really enjoyed during my placement is that I was exposed to real life, not university life.
One of the key things I learnt is that you need to have really good interpersonal skills on the shop floor. You can’t be the greatest engineer ever if you have bad people skills; you need to have a good balance.
Did you find MK Test Systems to be supportive of your learnings throughout your placement?
Because I’m from a different background, I’ve always had the view that people won’t accept me because I’m not from here. But everyone at MK felt like family to me, they’ve been readily supportive. And I never thought that we were going to be that close.
The business also sponsored me for my final year project which was very good. As it turned out, the project was a success and I was awarded the Babcock Award by the university. MK didn’t just support me financially, they always directed me to make sure I was on the right track.
The mentality of the team here is that they’re willing to teach me and are open to conversations. If I need anything I don’t think twice to ask. I speak to them and they sort me out because they are keen to make me better. They know the better I get, the more value I add for the company and the more we all succeed. So it’s a win for all of us.
What do you enjoy most about your job as an Electronics Engineer?
I’m working now with a great team and RTS is a really interesting project. All my research and hard work for my final year project was a kickoff for RTS, so Nick (MK Senior Electronics Engineer, and RTS project lead) was preparing me for this. We have a great team working on RTS, they’re all willing to teach me.
It’s challenging because I’m working with senior colleagues – great people – and I’m trying to work at a level alongside them. They’re teaching me in order to add more value in the long run.
That’s what I like here; people really care about you. Last week I had my six month review – they’re keeping track of my progress in order to make sure you improve over time. So that’s something I’m also really happy about.
What’s a typical working day for you?
We don’t have typical working days here! For instance, today I came in planning to start a mechanical design for one of our test boxes. Then a board for another part wasn’t working, so I came down to the lab to fix it. It’s sorted now so I’m going to go back to what I was planning on doing.
We don’t have a boring routine – there are interesting, exciting challenges everyday and which I learn from. When I’m stuck, I go to Nick and he’s pleased to help me out. No matter how busy he is, no matter what’s going on, he stops what he’s doing and helps me.
How much time are you down here in the lab versus being at your desk?
It totally depends on the workload. A month ago we were building a system which was based in the lab; hands on stuff. Right now I’m writing a code for the test box so I’m based upstairs at my desk. We’re all over the place, in a good way!
You’re doing what you need to, using different skills, most days. I’m implementing what I learnt in uni with what I learnt during my placement. Plus I’m learning more doing this project – it’s great.
How has MK Test changed since you first came here?
Oh woah it’s a big change – let’s start with the premises. We’re in brand new premises, which is great. Back in my placement year we were in the old premises and they were talking about how nice the new place was going to be.
Two years later, I came back and it’s a great place. We’ve got two floors, meeting rooms and a purpose-built lab. It’s a place we’re proud to show customers.
Moving away from the premises, I think MK are trying to implement and build new strategies for individuals and the company to advance. Even though I spent a year here on my placement only recently, things have already changed. How we do things, how we debug – MK Test is trying to make a standard which is more professional for the market. And actually, we’re not stopping at anything.
And the last question – it’s a fun one. If you weren’t here being an Electronics Engineer, what would you be doing instead?
Do you want the real answer? I’m always thinking about leading something. I had a conversation with Carl (MK’s Managing Director) and he told me how he always wanted to be the boss. Looking at how he’s really keen and how he manages the business; I’m learning from the people here. Maybe in X years I can think about YR Test Systems rather than MK Test Systems!
When I started my placement, I always wanted to just try it out and come back to work – that was the dream job.
And you did come back.
Exactly! So it’s a win win, which is cool.
Yassin also has an International Student profile on Plymouth University’s website here.
To see some of the projects and exciting new technology our NPD team are currently working on, visit the Tech::Lab page.