An automation engineer who loves to think independently
Ahmed Alwan is an automation engineer who works with sustainable technology together with Semcon’s customers. He is currently programming a larger machine for the production of the next generation of integrated sun panels. When asked what the most rewarding aspect of the assignment is, he answers confidently “that I’m allowed to think independently!”. There is no exact instruction describing how Ahmed should tackle the assignment, so he has to plan his work himself from a blank slate to a working machine. The self-confidence in knowing that he is up to the challenge, together with the stimulating work of problem solving, contributes to Ahmed’s description of his work as a “dream assignment”.
The very first thing to establish is the safety–mechanics, which enables me to press the emergency button at any moment which stops the machine immediately, within milliseconds. It is very important to minimize the risks for the user, both during testing of the equipment and after implementation of the system. Following that, I start to build different functions and perform functional testing continuously. A big advantage in this project is that I have access to the machine in the same building where I work, so that I can check how my code actually works. Does the machine pick up the material where it should? Is the operating speed sufficient? Do I get any error messages? Organizing the work step-by-step become crucial because there is no pre-determined way to program the machine.
How did I end up here? I attended natural science in high school and went on to study Robotics and Automation to become an engineer within the field. After my university studies, I started to gather experience within the industry. I have worked with service and maintenance, PLC-programming and electricity, among other things. In earlier employments, I have mainly programmed small robots, which has prepared me for my current assignment involving a large machine. It is a challenge and I am learning new things all the time, and it feels great. I feel a self-confidence and a maturity in my competence as an automation engineer that I have not felt before. It really is an amazing experience when all your previous knowledge is put to the test and the outcome is the feeling that I can do this. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity.
We are strong within Life science at Semcon, so I have also had a couple of assignments within that field. Having the perspective from different industries is interesting, because they can differ a lot in processes and attitudes. At some customers outside of the pharma industry, I could switch a component without filling out a single form, while in the pharma industry I am part of a grander quality system where each step in the process must be documented in detail. The GMP requirements and strict work culture are what stands out the most. It is good to master such an environment, and I sometimes miss the complete neat-and-clean structuring in the world of GMP. On the other hand, it is a good feeling to have quicker progress in the project. As previously mentioned, I feel a great confidence in my day to day to work, I know what to do and do not need basic instructions. If I happened to be working with something that I do not have the same level of experience of, then perhaps it would be valuable to have the strict regulations and instructions that characterizes the pharma- and medtech-industries.
In 10 years? Wow. Then I will still hopefully be at Semcon, however in a different role: As team- or project manager for large projects involving electricity and machines. I think, even today, that I possess many of the personal characteristics that are important in making a good leader. I am good with people, structured and comfortable in juggling many tasks at once.
To become a consultant is the best choice you can make as an automation engineer. When I had permanent employment in the industry, I was always waiting for an opportunity to show up, a chance to develop and take the next step in my career. However, those aspects are an integrated part of working for Semcon. I am hired as a consultant to gather new perspectives from different industries, and to deliver value to the customer within my assignments. I have no doubt that what I have learned on my current assignment would have taken years to learn in any other company! I am also a social guy, so that I get to meet many new people and build networks is a big bonus to me.
Titel: Automation engineer
Education: Automation and robotics
Employed at Semcon since: January 2021
I have the most fun at work when: I test my code and it works!