Anneka Kang AMIMechE
Tell us about your career path since graduation
I worked for just over two years as an energy consultant. I travelled the world conducting energy audits on factories making products ranging from ketchup to beer. I then changed jobs and was a mechanical design engineer for about two years. In contrast to my previous job this was more office based. I worked on 3D CAD designs, finite element analysis and thermal CFD of new battery energy storage units which were linked to solar panels or generators. I did get my hands dirty building and testing the prototypes I designed, which was good fun.
I then decided I wanted to learn more skills and go into research, so I managed to get a funded PhD position at the UCL Energy Institute.
What does your current role entail?
I’m researching how our homes could be heated in the future, since the UK needs to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I’m taking a systems engineering approach to model how a relatively new efficient type of solar panel (photovoltaic-thermal) with storage could be integrated into our cities in the future to provide clean heating and electricity.
Tell us about your most interesting career experience to date?
I spent two weeks carrying out an energy audit at a Magnum ice cream factory in Turkey. It was fascinating to see the production line and how it all worked. Even better, I got to eat as much ice cream as I wanted, including some really unusual flavours you can’t find in the UK.
Why did you decide to become an Associate member of the Institution?
So that I can become a Chartered Engineer with a respected institution. I want to achieve Chartered status by the time I finish my PhD. Becoming professionally registered means I’ll be better paid if I work in consulting again in the future. Customers are willing to pay a premium for consultants with those letters after their names.
I also view it as a good way to get international recognition that my work is of a certain standard and experience.
How else has your Associate membership benefited you?
It means I’m entitled to use the credentials AMIMechE after my name. Showing that affiliation with a world-renowned engineering institution is good for my CV and shows my connections to the industry.
I’ve also attended networking events for early career engineers, which were very interesting. The open Q&A format was particularly useful.
Do you volunteer with IMechE? If yes, what are the benefits it has brought you and what have you been able to give back?
I was the IMechE representative on the panel for Tomorrow’s Engineers. School pupils from across the UK were invited to submit their questions, which were put to us in front of a live studio audience – as well as 50,000 people streaming the event online! I was put forward by my local Young Members Panel.
I really enjoyed the experience, and found it rewarding. The UK has a shortage of engineers so it’s important to inspire the next generation and correct some of the common misconceptions about engineering among younger people; and show them that they can use it to work on issues they really care about.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I would like to be a Chartered Engineer continuing to contribute to the huge global efforts required to meet emissions targets and ultimately limit global temperature increases. Whether this is through further research or working in industry, I haven’t yet decided.
And finally, if you could give one piece of advice to a graduate engineer today, what would it be?
When you start a job don’t feel you will have to stick to that industry or discipline for the rest of your career. It’s common for engineers to move from industry to industry and try new engineering topics (unless you have found your ideal straightaway!). That’s the great thing about engineering; what you learn in one industry can be used in others.