Hello, my name is Ed and I am a CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) Engineer at Newport Wafer Fab with a first-class BSc (Hons) in Computer Science, and currently studying towards my MSc degree in Data Science, both from Cardiff Met. And this is my story.
Almost ten years ago, I came to visit the UK for the first time. After spending a few days in Wales, I went home to my native Lithuania, but within three days I had made the decision to move to the UK permanently. A month later, I dropped out of my studies at University as a fitness coach and landed in Bristol airport with just one piece of luggage and big dreams for the future.
My working career started in various food factories, but a few months later I joined International Rectifier (how it was known at that time) – a semiconductor company. I joined the company as a machine operator, however I knew that this role would not fulfil my ‘Big UK Dreams’, therefore I decided to enrol in the Comptia A+ course at Coleg Gwent. This course was in a completely new and different area of expertise for me compared to the fitness and coaching studies I did in Lithuania. Nevertheless, I have always liked a challenge. This was definitely not an easy start, but exploring the new subject and learning more about computers made me want to pursue this career even further.
Meanwhile, in my workplace I had been asked to join a cost savings group to give my input on the area I was working in as an operator. After spending about six months in that group, I came across an internal job advert for a system model administrator. This was the perfect opportunity to shift my career from machine operator to something more interesting, more challenging.
A short time later, my manager saw the potential in me and suggested I pursue further studies with the possibility to progress within the group. Of course, I was up for another challenge and joined Bridgend College in 2013 to study a HNC in computing. Working full-time and studying part-time, I managed to finish my studies with a Distinction. This helped me get a promotion and I became a Technician. However, my challenges were not over yet, and to progress further so I could become an Engineer one day, I needed to get a university degree in a relevant field. This is when my Cardiff Met journey began.
I joined the Cardiff Met BSc (Hons) in Computer Science (at the time called Computing) course in 2015. I was lucky enough that my college studies and knowledge within the field were sufficient to leap through the first year in university, and I could go straight into the second year of the course.
Studying full-time, attending all classes and working 39 hours per week meant that my only day off were Sundays. And that was not actually my day off, as I needed to do my homework and assignments for the university.
Also, the academic language was not simple, as it was not what I used in my everyday life. I needed to catch up on the more difficult subjects, to ensure that I understood these fully before the next class. Or understand the subject overall as it was all new for me.
Those two years were tough, but the knowledge and experiences I gained were immeasurable. I finished with a First-Class degree and received a Dissertation of the Year Award, which made me believe that all the stress and hard work had been well worth it in the end. Most importantly, my studies gave me the knowledge and necessary skills to advance in my career at Newport Wafer Fab. As promised by my workplace, I became a Graduate CIM Engineer in 2017, and a year later I was promoted to CIM Engineer.
Although the BSc studies were very challenging, I felt like something was missing from my daily routine in life, so I decided to study further and enrolled in the MSc Data Science at Cardiff Met. I am now about to finish these studies as well, and I use the knowledge I gained over the years every day in my job. My role focuses heavily on data for problem solving and to improve production processes. Through the analysis of company data, I am able to pinpoint relevant information and prepare visualisations to make day to day activities more efficient and solve issues for various departments and the production floor.
I feel very grateful to have had these opportunities to study and challenge myself – and hopefully the challenges are not over yet!