An interview with our Senior Engineer
How long have you been a technology install engineer?
I have worked as a technology installer for Elementary Technology for over 10 years and have experience before then as an apprentice.
Tell us about how you’ve seen things change?
I remember when I was at school, I saw the transition from chalkboards to dry wipe boards. Assemblies used to take place with an old acetate slide with the curtains closed so we could see it, and the special treat at Christmas time or end of term was to watch a VHS film on a 40” CRT TV on a mobile stand (The only one in the school) which always had to be booked out if a teacher needed to use it.
I remember when going to college, the internet had just arrived and I was the only one in the college who used it. It was called DragonNet and the dial-up was slow to sometimes non-existent. Trying to get any information from a search engine took half an hour to load. I progressed from this to the point of teaching others how to use the system and then when computers were introduced into the college library, I was first on hand, helping other students how to use them. I’m truly impressed to see the changes in schools now, that see learning done in a far more exhilarating way.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I love to go into schools forming bonds with the staff on-site and delivering new and updated equipment which makes the teachers happy and the children saying WOW! When they re-enter the classroom after an installation has been completed. There is nothing more enjoyable than when you hear a little one say “Thank you for putting my new screen in my classroom!” I feel my job has been done.
What do you think the most important part of your job is?
I always think that the most important part of my job is to know that when I have completed an install in a classroom that the equipment has been installed neat and tidy with no cabling on show. That the equipment is safe and secure and that the end-user is able to instantly go back into the room and start teaching on the new equipment easily and effectively from the start. The transition to the new kit must be effortless for the staff. If this involves giving a quick run-through of how to get started then I make sure this is done.
What sort of training and qualifications do you have?
I currently hold certificates with Promethean and Smart as a Certified Installer, a certificate in Asbestos Awareness and also a CSCS gold card for site work. I am a fully qualified electrician to the current 17thedition regulations holding NVQ level 3 in this respect.
Tell us what most frustrates you about other install work you see in schools?
The thing that most frustrates me when I go into schools and see equipment installed by other installers is the lack of care taken to install things neatly. Many times I have seen a screen on a wall not level, cables bundled up but hanging down under the screen because they haven’t been bothered to deal with the excess in a correct and tidy manner. Trunking to contain the cabling which is not fixed properly and hanging off the walls and things not working properly because they have not set them up properly.
What should a school insist on from an Engineer?
I think that a school should insist on an engineer to be courteous and polite with staff, to have a can-do attitude and not “oh I can’t do that!”. An installer should run that extra mile to ensure that the end-user gets the best for what the pay for and that if things out of the Installers control are identified that this is passed on to the relevant people to make sure that they are overcome. For this, I refer to occasions where not enough power is in place for equipment or where a network point needs adding to a room to make using the equipment more user friendly.
What do you get up to outside of work?
When I am not working, I am usually found at home either looking after my 5-year-old son, Toby and trying to do up an ageing house. I tend to lend all my time to either electric, plumbing, joinery, plastering and painting. If I do sit down for five minutes I will probably be watching Dragons, Inspector Gadget, Floogals or Digby Dragon!
Any final comments?
Having a five-year-old son I know at first-hand how important it is that children are introduced to the latest technology and from working with my son on a touchscreen, I can see the massive benefits through his dexterity, enjoyment of being involved with the many and varied pieces of software and apps which are designed for early years learning. All have a clear benefit to his learning. My son’s concentration levels are also greatly increased through the use of them as he will be very happy to stay working on a touchscreen for longer and he doesn’t realise that all the time he is taking part in the activities he is learning important lessons on areas such as numbers and spelling.