I produce armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army

William McAlpine, Electrical Engineering graduate now working for General Dynamics

William McAlpine from Drefach in Carmarthenshire graduated from the BEng (Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 2013. He is now a Project Manager for General Dynamics Land Systems-UK.


Describe what you do
My day-to-day tasks involve planning and overseeing the APOLLO and ATLAS prototype builds, which are two variants of the AJAX family of Armoured Fighting Vehicles, being delivered to the British Army by General Dynamics Land Systems-UK.  On completion of the prototype builds, I will assist in scheduling the trials of these vehicles. During trials, the vehicles get thoroughly tested to ensure they are compliant to customer requirements.


What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy working with a variety of people from the different disciplines across the company to develop an end-to-end understanding of the programme. As a Project Manager, you are one of the few people to have a complete picture of the project in hand – I find this very satisfying.


Why is it a good profession?
There are many invaluable and transferable lessons to be learnt as a Project Manager. Execution of great ideas; navigation of the team; efficiency of prioritising hundreds of requests and communication to all levels of stakeholders of any project. Project Management comes with high stakes and intense pressure, but you get plenty of opportunities to pick up new skills, build relationships and understand a business.


What have been your most notable achievements during your current role?
Shortly, both ATLAS and APOLLO will be entering trials. This is a significant achievement for both me and the wider team. 


What influenced you to study Electrical Engineering?
I have always enjoyed maths but wanted to do something different with it. This is what got me looking at engineering. What got me interested in Electrical and Electronics was the Open Day I attended at the University. The final year projects on display were very impressive. The rest was history, as they say!


How has the Electrical Engineering degree helped you in your career? 
There are a number of aspects the qualification has helped with, including both technical skills and soft skills. Having an engineering degree allowed me start my career as a graduate engineer. This enabled me to build on my technical knowledge which, since becoming a Project Manager, has allowed me to accurately schedule engineering tasks. 

What were the most valuable aspects of the course?
One of my modules was ‘Business Management’. At the time of studying my degree I didn’t realise how useful this module would be. Since starting my career as a Project Manager, I have been looking back at many of my lecture notes which have proven valuable when working on risk and cost management.


Anything else you want to mention?
I’d like to thank all the staff at Glamorgan University (University of South Wales these days) for the help and guidance they provided. Studying and living at University was a great four years and a very beneficial life experience that I would recommend to everyone.