Systems are all around us - from those that occur naturally like the solar system to complex engineered systems, such as the latest smart grids for power distribution. Systems bring together different components, such as hardware, software or even manpower, to create an integrated whole in order to achieve a specific function. Examples of systems that engineers can help to develop include a plane's flight control systems or wireless phone networks.
Studying systems engineering teaches you to think of products and processes as a whole, a skill that is in demand in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, defence, energy and telecommunications.
Tom has a degree in Systems and Control Engineering and now works for the engineering firm Meggitt.
I work for Meggitt - a global engineering group with over 11,000 people in 60 locations worldwide - on their prestigious graduate programme. The programme consists of four nine-month placements, at least one of which is international and one is non-engineering.
I'm currently on my second placement and I'm back in Sheffield, leading a project at the University's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre where we are developing novel assembly technologies for Meggitt's global factories. I'm also responsible for the development of a new web-based social collaboration tool, allowing engineers across Meggitt worldwide to collaborate in ways not previously possible.
Meggitt's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering. When I heard of the Meggitt Graduate Programme, I spoke to the Head of Department to arrange a meeting with Meggitt's CTO. From there, I was invited to further interviews with the Group Director of Engineering and Technology and the Group Director of Organisational Development at Meggitt's headquarters in Bournemouth and luckily, was offered a role on Meggitt's graduate programme.
After graduating with an MEng in Systems and Control Engineering, Adam now works as a senior consultant for Qinetiq.
I play a leading role in developing a new business offering at Qinetiq in the railway market. Personally, I'm involved in identifying ways in which Qinetiq's capabilities and technologies in the defence, aerospace and security sectors can be utilised in the railway market to make innovative offerings for the rail sector.
My day-to-day role is broad, ranging from business development, marketing, sales and solution definition, to project management and technical management, depending on the stage of the project. Occasionally I do some systems engineering too but more often I draw together the right subject matter experts from across the business and help them to understand the unique challenges of the railway industry.
I stumbled upon the rail industry by accident via Atkins, thinking that there much be lots of complex systems challenges to solve. The rail sector massively needs more young talent and people are in high demand, with record levels of investment in major infrastructure projects across the country. With engineering skills shortages, there are great promotion opportunities and you get lots of responsibility early on in your career. And it pays pretty well too! I wish someone had told me this when I was starting out - I wouldn't want to work in any other industry now!