Dabi chose engineering at GCSE – now he’s a Network Rail signalling design engineer!

Confused about what a signalling design engineer does? Plotr caught up with Dabi from Network Rail to find out more about his role.

Dabi knew he wanted a role that gave him a chance to grow and develop his skills after being fired for being too slow at making pizzas. He loved making things as a child, and combined this with engineering qualifications to study Electrical/Electronic engineering at university. Then he applied for the Network Rail graduate scheme to become a signalling design engineer...

Tell us about your job

I design new trackside signalling systems for big railway development projects like Thameslink, Crossrail and HS2.

There isn’t a typical day in this job...

One day you could be in the office using design software packages to update existing drawings with new signalling systems scheduled to be implemented on the railway.

Another day you could be meeting customers or stakeholders to discuss different design options.

Another day you could be on-site ensuring that the signalling equipment you have designed is being implemented according to the design you have created.

What are the best bits about your job?

I love using different modelling packages like Computer Aided Design to design different signalling systems onto a scheme plan. I love seeing my creations and designs evolving over the lifecycle of the project into a physical entity on the railway.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Here are a few:

  • Train Driver
  • Systems Engineer
  • Pilot

How did you get into doing this as your job?

All I wanted to do was create and make things as a child, and chose engineering as a GCSE option. From there it seemed natural to pick engineering-related A-level subjects. I wasn’t sure what type of engineering I wanted to do, so I chose individual subjects that were universally recognised as essentials for engineering. These were mathematics, physics and chemistry. I decided to take Electrical/Electronic Engineering at university, which led to an application to Network Rail and the choice to do signalling design.

Read more: What are the different types of engineering?

Did you overcome any challenges to get to where you are?

I had to overcome a lack of confidence in my abilities and general social awkwardness when relating with people. There isn’t a magic formula to overcome these, but I personally just continued to put myself outside my comfort zone, and refused to beat myself up when I made blunders. I just kept going.

Confidence can grow as you continue to do things that make you cringe initially, until they don’t make you cringe anymore. One bit of advice is to apply for jobs you don’t even think you will get. The worst that can happen is they say no, but you always gain something from every little bit of experience to help you for the next thing you face.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do your job?

I wish I’d known sooner that this is what I wanted to do. Once you know, tailor everything towards that goal to avoid wasted time doing things that do don’t matter.

More about careers with Network Rail

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