This interview provides an inside look into the talented people who work with Aquaspira.
For this week’s interview, we sat down with Michal Brzostek, Aquaspira Engineering Intern. Michal is currently studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester and has been with AquaSpira for just under a year. Michal shares his experience working with the Technical team primarily focusing on Research & Development.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am originally from Poland but my parents decided to make the move to Lancashire when I was quite young and I can speak, read and write fluently in Polish. I studied Maths, Further Maths, and Physics in college, and I’ve always liked numbers. Currently, I’m undertaking my placement at AquaSpira as part of my degree in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Manchester.
Q: How did you come across Aquaspira and how did you find the process?
At University, I lead Peer Assisted Study sessions with first-year undergraduate students. Another leader knew I was looking for work over the summer and informed me that AquaSpira had an opening.
I visited the factory to have a look around and spoke with the technical and managing directors about what my role would entail. With the pandemic disrupting onsite interviews for over a year, it was refreshing to have a face-to-face conversation rather than a video call to discuss the work I’d be doing. I mentioned my background as an engineering student and I was taken on to work on the shop floor for 4 days per week, with 1 day in the office developing design calculation tools.
Overall, I was able to get a feel for the company and everything was communicated to me effectively throughout the process. With the training I received, I was able to quickly get up to speed in my role on the shop floor.
Q: You started out on the shop floor for three months and then went onto an office-based role where you focused on Research and Development, how have you found both experiences?
Working on the shop floor was very different from anything I had done previously as at University majority of the learning is theoretical. Once I’d moved to the office permanently, having a practical understanding of the processes I was working with, as well as knowing the staff on the shop floor was an asset that made it easier for me to settle into the office role. Within the office role, I work on a variety of projects involving both technical and practical work, so there are times when I’d have to go back to the shop floor in order to test ideas.
Q: What are your main responsibilities within your current job role, and have there been any challenges? What have you learned about yourself when overcoming these challenges?
I’m primarily involved in the research and development of AquaSpira products and processes. So far, I’ve designed and installed a condition monitoring system on the extrusion line, developed a design calculation tool to conform to industry standards, and performed tests and the subsequent data processing for a KTP research paper. I’ve learned to code in Python to help me process test data, which I’ve found to be useful in other projects. Often the issues I come across are without precedent, so I have to learn new concepts and get creative to solve problems. As long as I can explain and justify my decisions, I have the freedom to come up with my own solutions to problems and implement them. Right now I’m working on optimising the cooling on the extrusion line, and analysing the embodied carbon emissions of our products to find where improvements can be made.
Q: We all have our hectic days, is there anything you do to help you unwind?
I’ve always enjoyed playing and listening to music, it help’s me set everything aside and relax. I started getting into music at the age of 8, originally attending guitar classes but then at 11 started to teach myself. I now play electric and bass guitar, sometimes with other people and to an audience. The most recent gig I participated in was at The Manchester Academy to raise funds for Ukraine in March 2022.
Q: When you go back to University is there anything, in particular, you will miss?
I’ll miss seeing the effects of my work in the short term, and putting my skills to use in an industrial environment. But mostly the ability to be able to bounce ideas off of people and the daily catchups, not to mention the endless supply of tea and coffee!
Q: If you were to recommend an internship to your peers what advice would you give them?
I’d highly recommend going down the route of an internship for anyone who is looking to put their skills into practice. There is a visible overlap between what I’ve been doing at University and the real world – more than I expected. In hindsight, many of the things I found frustrating about my degree have prepared me for what working as an engineer is like.
Going back to complete my final year, I feel more confident and better equipped to continue my career once I graduate.
Q: If you could sum up your time at Aquaspira in one phrase what would it be?
With the amount of testing I have done, I would say - If it’s stupid and it works it’s not stupid!