Jonathan Couch

Current employer: Rittal CSM

Current job title: Industrial engineer

Current location: Plymouth

“Studying at Plymouth has allowed me to ‘reinvent’ myself and enter onto a career path which is fresh and exciting.”

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

I started working at sheet metal manufacturer Rittal CSM as an engineer within weeks of finishing my exams. I was successful at the first interview I attended and it proved to be the perfect job for me.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I’ve worn many hats, changing careers to keep life interesting; serving in Norway with the Royal Marines for winter training was exciting and lots of fun, building snow-holes and learning to ski. As far as the new career in engineering goes, a recent visit to TATA steel in South Wales was fascinating. The manufacturing process of high quality steel is stunning: it’s a total sensory overload the first time you see it up close.

What would you do differently since graduating?

Nothing. I was a teacher before coming to Plymouth to study for my third degree! But I wanted to move away from the classroom and back to manufacturing (I started adult life as an apprentice mechanical fitter). I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role at Rittal CSM.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Nothing. Being a mature student I funded myself, which meant that I grabbed every opportunity to soak up as much as I could from every aspect of the course. If anything, I worked a bit too hard and could have socialised a bit more.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

Location was key, and I’ve settled in Plymouth now; but also the quality of teaching was good, there is an excellent library, and there is also state of the art engineering software.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the University how did they enable you to get to where you are today?

One of the best support services was the school office (the staff were always helpful and supportive). Also, I spent a lot of time in the mathematics drop in centre, ‘Sum-UP.’ The staff offer support at every level of mathematic competency and make it fun to learn.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

I’ve changed from a being classroom teacher to an engineer; essentially, my plans have totally changed! Studying at Plymouth has allowed me to ‘reinvent’ myself and enter onto a career path which is fresh and exciting.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

The course included a lot of collaborative working with other students, often with people you would not naturally choose to work. However frustrating it was at the time, it prepared me for just how difficult it can be to ‘get things done’ when trying to get a group of people to move towards a common goal.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying mechanical engineering and our range of courses within the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni are currently doing, please visit the engineering and robotics interest area.

Boat engine. Powerboat racing on Plymouth Hoe