National Grid ESO - waterfall

This is Engineering Day 2020

For 'This is Engineering Day 2020', two of our ESO engineers Nnaemka Anyiam and Andrew Henderson spoke about their passion for engineering.

Nnaemka

I’m 32 and I work as a Power Systems Engineer at ESO.

I have one mantra that works for me – everything is ‘figure-out-able’. When I arrived from Nigeria and started my Masters in applied instrumentation and control engineering at Glasgow University, I was really thrown in at the deep end. I was petrified for the first month – until I realised everything is figure-out-able if you have time, interest and can use the knowledge you already have. I’d worked as an engineer in Nigeria, but in the UK I taught myself to be a programmer and picked up data science skills.

Problem solving

There’s nothing more gratifying and exciting than seeing your solutions actually working. As a child I wanted to know how things worked and loved fixing my bike and remote control car. Now my job is to ensure the right kind of generators with the right kind of specifications are able to connect with the UK grid – a different sort of problem-solving.

I think there are three engineering inventions that have had a huge impact on the world:  the internet, the aeroplane and electricity, which is the lifeblood of modern development.

Coming from Nigeria where we have electricity blackouts for days at a time and we’re forced to use mini generators run on fuel, I know first-hand how important electricity is.

I wanted to be part of a team responsible for bringing us cleaner energy and reducing carbon emissions, and our company is at the forefront of achieving net zero and converting to renewable energy.

Andrew

I’m 25 and I’m a Power Systems Engineer at ESO. My job is checking that the transmission network works efficiently and safely.

If you don’t have the ‘right’ school subjects, you can still become an engineer.

I didn’t study STEM subjects at school, so I didn’t think engineering was a potential career for me – until I did a foundation year at Loughborough University in Science and Maths.

Lightbulb moment

My A-levels were in Business Studies, ICT and History and I thought I’d go down the computer science route. But then it all clicked when I become fascinated by electricity in one of my foundation modules. We all take electricity for granted – being able to have it at the flick of a button to light your home or make your cup of tea – but our economies and wellbeing from warmth and light are so dependent on electricity and how it gets to us.  

I left university with a first in electrical and electric engineering. So, my advice to anyone who may be interested in a career in engineering is to look at all the routes in, like taking a university foundation year and apprenticeships.

Engineering hero

My engineering hero is Nikola Tesla who developed the first alternating current 140 years ago  – it’s the foundation of all modern-day power systems. His inventions revolutionised how electricity could be transported and made it increasingly accessible to everyone.

The two most important skills to be an engineer are thinking outside the box and being able to communicate your ideas – I have to talk to a lot of customers and stakeholders as well as my own team. There’s no point being super-smart if you can’t get your message across.

The best thing about working here is solving complex challenges as a team, which broken down into parts become achievable. Our most ambitious target we’re working on now is achieving a sustainable energy future. If you’re concerned about global warming, being an engineer here means you can play a significant role in achieving net zero.

Pandemic opened up possibilities

My career highlight so far was during the COVID-19 disruptions when a transmission plan I’d created had to be cancelled and redone from scratch due to all the work constraints for construction workers – we managed to recover three quarters of the work.  I was really surprised and pleased when my manager nominated me for an award. From over 100 people I was shortlisted for a Young Energy Professionals award for ‘Outstanding achievement in responding to COVID-19’. So, it turned out to be a win-win for the team and for me personally.