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Seb Dalton - Graduate Engineer - Mechanical

What attracted you to a career in engineering, and to your specific discipline?

I’ve always been interested in cars and mechanical systems, often taking things to bits and reassembling them to see how they work. When I finished school and had to make a decision about what came next, studying mechanical engineering was a great fit for me as it covers so much ground, affecting everything from cars to buildings, meaning that there were a lot of different career paths and options available.

What was your interview and selection process with Rolton Group like?

Pretty good and far less stressful than I thought it would be! I had an interview with Director, Craig Smith and my direct line manager Senior Engineer, Iain Nelson, which was really useful for finding out more about what my responsibilities would be and the type of projects I would be working on. I also had an interview with Chairman, Peter Rolton, which really was more like chatting with a friend. We ended up talking about cars and music more than engineering!

Could you describe what your working day usually consists of?

All sorts of things, including producing calculations, drawings, 3D modelling and using software like Revit and TAS to help with designs for all kinds of buildings (new build, refurbishments, extensions, etc.). I often go out to sites to complete M&E surveying tasks and more and more I’m also getting to attend design team meetings for projects. The variety definitely keeps it interesting.

Can you give any examples of projects you have been working on?

A few examples include the reconfiguration of old BHS stores in Plymouth and Peterborough to create new retail units and hotel spaces and the £30M extension and reconfiguration project at Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough to create a new cinema, retail and restaurant units. One of the first projects I worked on was Deer Walk at centre:mk – an award winning refurbishment creating new customer facilities including a guest services lounge, WCs and a fresh look mall with several new retail units.

Working on projects at Queensgate Shopping Centre has probably been my favourite so far because I grew up with that as my local shopping centre. It’s so interesting to have seen it change over the years and to now be a part of the latest developments, getting to see what really goes on behind the scenes.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The best bit is definitely getting to see your designs come to life. It’s still really exciting to see something you’ve been working on at your desk in the real world ready to be used by real people.

What do you find most challenging in your role?

There’s always something to do and sometimes fitting it all in and prioritising what to do next can be tricky, but I’ve found that there are always people around to help with that – it’s a good team to be a part of because we all help each other when it comes to meeting deadlines and solving problems for clients.

What training and mentoring have you been offered/undertaken with Rolton Group and how have they supported you?

I’ve started a MEng in Building Services which Rolton Group are sponsoring me for, to help me gain a more rounded viewpoint when it comes to building services engineering as a whole (not just focusing on the mechanical part). There has also been a lot of hands-on learning on the job when it comes to using design software. Rolton Group have also invited me to attend several internal seminars and workshops to help me develop my skills, including a report writing course and business development workshop.

What are you career aspirations?

I like the idea of progressing to the more senior positions but really, developing my skills to be able to do what I enjoy most (engineering) is my priority. I’m learning every day and there’s a lot to learn and do between now and whatever the future holds.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their career in the engineering/built environment industry?

When I first started, I’d just come out of university, had been working in the pub for 2 ½ years and felt like I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. University teaches you so much but in a lot of ways, it’s very different to daily life at work and doesn’t really show you how many opportunities there are out there. My biggest piece of advice would be just go for it! Things are rarely as out of reach as they seem and if you don’t give it a go, you’ll never know.