BTEC Higher Nationals Case Study: Daniel Thompsett
Daniel completed his Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Electrical Engineering at Bridgend College in South Wales. He has worked at Sony UK Technology Centre for 5 years and is currently an engineer.
Can you tell me a little bit about your learning journey up until this point?
I completed my GCSEs then went on to do my BTEC Level 3 in Electrical/Electronic Engineering. As a PWB Repair Operator at Sony I was then elected to join a workplace programme and complete my HNC with a roadmap to becoming an Electronics Engineer.
How have you progressed at Sony and what does your current role involve?
I pride myself on my ability to learn fast/my keen eye for detail/etc. and during my HNC apprenticeship I was actively involved in numerous projects where I could put those skills into practice. At Sony, innovation is integral to everything we do, so the more I learned, the more I could contribute new ideas to the team. This was recognised and I was able to progress to become an Assistant Engineer for new product introductions, where I supported the manufacturing functions of the organisation.
On completion of my HNC, my role was developed further, and I became the Project Leader Engineer for new Product Introduction. This role is very key to the organisation as I’m responsible for ensuring that the process of setting up and beginning the manufacture of new products at our centre goes as smoothly as possible.
This includes coordinating various departments and managing the quality of their work, as well as providing guidance every step of the way – from design to mass manufacture. I also take charge of controlling the schedule and managing the Bill of Materials, while remaining a product technical specialist who can advise on every aspect of each new product that we begin manufacturing.
What spiked your interest in electronics and helped with your decision to complete your Higher National?
It hasn’t always been something that I was interested in, as I didn’t have much knowledge of electronics as a subject at school. I started becoming interested in electronics in my spare time – understanding technology and taking things apart at home. Attempting to fix things rather than replace them made me realise that it might be something I could do full-time.
After joining Sony, my exposure to electronics increased, specifically within a manufacturing environment, and I was given the opportunity to start in an entry-level technical role. Through career progression and with the completion of my BTEC Level 3 qualification, my interest in manufacturing processes was forever increasing, with a desire to continue my studies.
What did you particularly enjoy about your learning experience?
I enjoyed the fact that the course included both academic and practical elements. I was given one day a week of study release alongside others in the organisation, and so it helped to be part of a wider group. As a mature learner, I felt that I was able to apply my life experiences to the role, and I enjoyed being able to share some of this knowledge with others in the group.
Were there any aspects of your studies that you found challenging?
Studying the Higher National definitely required self-discipline – I had to juggle my studies alongside my full-time job and family commitments. It was also important not to over-work myself; staying motivated and organised to find the right balance was key to my success.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to do my Higher National Diploma at some point, however I decided not to do it straight away as I wanted to wait until the global pandemic had subsided. It didn’t quite feel like the right time for me to take on the HND last year but Higher Nationals allow this flexibility so it should be straightforward to take it up at a later point. I think I’d then also consider doing a top-up degree at university level.