"My placement year at Caterpillar has been both rewarding and enjoyable. I have gained confidence and learnt how to overcome challenges whilst still delivering positive and successful outcomes."
I was mainly drawn in by Caterpillar’s active promotion at encouraging more women into the engineering sector and into the company. I applied for the Design and Development Engineering role which I felt complimented my degree well.
My main role was within the Validation team, supporting issue management in Pre-Production Reliability Development, responsible for the UK and US issues on new introduction machines. I supported the Lead Validation Engineer’s project planning activities and the Legal Division by compiling a Technical Construction File on new product developments to provide traceability of critical legislation related data and reports. Additionally, I supported design changes within the Structures team, working on various current production design developments and taking a lead role in a new project. I was given the opportunity to broaden my experience by partaking in Continuous Product Improvement testing of production machines, helping prepare the logistics, instrumentation set up and data analysis, with the aim to resolve a current customer pain issue.
I identified productivity issues within my role of tracking and managing issues on endurance machines, suggested new ideas and implemented them. I utilised Caterpillar’s pre-existing dealer app ‘CAT Inspect’ and used the framework to create a new checklist which can be used to log issues and feedback, this also enables images and videos to be captured in real-time. I had the exciting opportunity to travel to America to visit Caterpillar’s Clayton Machine Development Centre, where I gave training on the new endurance tablets to the US operators and relevant colleagues. This project successfully increased the speed of issue discovery and significantly improved the efficiency of the overall process.
I didn’t expect to have the broad range of opportunities within my placement year that I had. Not only was I working with Engineering, but I had the chance to work within the Commercial Team. I got involved in the BCP Wheel Loader Dealer Advisory, where I was responsible for designing, creating and leading the interactive segment. I went on several Supplier, Dealer and Customer visits throughout my placement, both cementing my knowledge of the product offerings, the company and feedback for future design changes. All of these trips supported my IMechE competences which I completed throughout the year in order to make my first progression towards Chartership. I became a STEM ambassador and represented Caterpillar in several Career Fairs, supporting at Caterpillar’s Learning and Inspiration Centre school visits and helped run Lego League after work at the local primary school.
During my placement I received abundant training in all relevant areas, including training I actively sought out myself to develop in areas I was interested in or felt would improve my work. I had little knowledge on Caterpillar BCP products prior to starting but I had driver training (!) on both the Backhoe Loader and Compact Wheel Loader within my first month of placement and with the variety of tasks I took on and the supportive colleagues within my team it did not set me back. Any technical skill gaps required for the given role will be covered in training on arrival. However, interpersonal skills are always good to have!
The work environment is varied and diverse. From the office, to the test yard, to working on machines. Everyone is incredibly supportive and the teams are social and kind. I was able to attend a team building day with the Backhoe Loader team on a high ropes course and a networking day playing Touch Rugby at Welford Road Stadium. The Graduate Forums are good to organise work socials and events.
My placement year at Caterpillar has been both rewarding and enjoyable. I have gained confidence and learnt how to overcome challenges whilst still delivering positive and successful outcomes. I have been involved in a diverse range of work and opportunities, which has driven my desire to learn and partake in every opportunity available. My placement has altered my mindset and the way I approach my work, gaining a strong awareness of time management and prioritisation. I feel this will put me in good stead for the future. Most importantly, I have had a supportive Boss, Mentor and great friends and colleagues. I look forward to further growing my experience in industry and developing enhanced skills to become a successful engineer.
You get out of the year what you put in!