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Paul Hayhurst

"Engineering degrees at other institutions are often purely engineering by theory. The Off-Road Vehicle Design course teaches you both the theory and the practical application. Engineering is not something you learn solely from a book. It’s something you get involved with, design, build and test."


Five minutes with JCB engineer Paul Hayhurst

Paul was in the British Army before studying for a BSc (Hons) in Off Road Vehicle Design. He was able to use this experience on his placement with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). He is now a design engineer with JCB.

What did you do before coming to Harper Adams?  

I left school at 16 and joined the Army. I left after eight years and undertook jobs in the construction industry, then worked as a vehicle fitter before starting university at the age of 29.

Why did you choose to study at Harper Adams? 

The Off Road Vehicle Design (ORVD) course appealed to me due to the mixture of academic and practical work. As I am more practical than academic I needed a course that would be more than just engineering by numbers. ORVD is at heart an engineering degree such as automotive engineering. It is structured to offer the students the ability to apply the academic engineering principles with good practical design methodology.

This emphasises that there is more to engineering design than just calculations.

What were the highlights of the course?

HA engineering department facilities support the practical side of the course, having its own off road test track and the soil hall, this allows the students to do real world vehicle testing.

Did the course improve your career opportunities?  

It gave me the confidence and experience to be able to perform in a modern professional engineering environment.

Harper Adams engineering students get involved in lots of ‘real world’ projects. What did you do?

During the final year I was involved in a group project for BAe Systems to redesign and develop a fleet of front line vehicles from one generic chassis. This gave us experience working with an outside customer and solving design problems. The project gave the group experience working to deadlines as well as managing and working as part of a group.

Where did you work during your placement year?

I worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) as an operational defence analyst. Dstl’s purpose is to maximise the impact of science and technology on UK defence and security, and the majority of Dstl’s work is for the Ministry of Defense.

I was involved in the future combat vehicle development post 2020 for the replacement of Warrior IFV and Challenger 2 main battle tank as well as work within the security science department looking at operational threats in Afghanistan.

Do you think placement enhanced your career prospects?

It was great to work in a professional company at the forefront of technology and real world defence projects. Working for a high profile company on real world projects gave me valuable experience which can be seen by future employers.

You’re now a design engineer.  What does that involve?

The day to day design of current and next generation excavators as well as working on test and development. I enjoy working for a professional company and enjoy seeing a design that I have worked on develop into a finished product.

How did you get the job?

I was contacted by a recruitment company. The ORVD course has strong links with JCB, which highly values the skills, experiences and work ethic of Harper Adams engineers. An engineering degree from this university gives you the ability to compete with other engineering graduates with the added skills of being able to apply engineering principles to get the job done.

Do you think being a graduate made a difference to your position and salary?

Being an engineering graduate made it possible for me to work at JCB or any other professional engineering company. The salary reflects this technical ability.

What is the teaching like in the Engineering department?

Excellent, the staff truly do enjoy passing on their knowledge and experiences to students willing to learn and will go above and beyond when necessary.

And the facilities?

The facilities offer the students the ability to develop their academic and hands on skills to be a fully capable design engineer.

Would you recommend Harper Adams to other students?

Harper Adams requires the right student and will not be suited to everyone.

Harper Adams has a strong work hard and play hard attitude, the course will be demanding as well as rewarding.  The student will need to be motivated and willing to be challenged, supported and developed by the teaching staff so that they can graduate as a HA engineer.

What advice do you have for a student interested in doing a similar job?

Graduate as a HA engineer!

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