James Waller, BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, 2010

What are you doing now?

My role at Jaguar Land Rover is program management in the base engines team and I’ve been in post for nearly four years. I’m responsible for the delivery of engine modules for a number of different vehicle programs plus managing any issues related to their installation and use.

Often the same engine will go into a Jaguar product and a Land Rover but both have different requirements and attributes. These differences may mean there are several different codes for the same engine, which also needs to be managed to get the right engine into the right car!

The role also includes managing suppliers and reporting to Senior Management. Since graduating in 2010, I worked briefly as a field service engineer in the sheet metal industry. Whilst I found working with laser cutting machines interesting, my passion has always been with cars, so the opportunity to work at Jaguar Land Rover was one I jumped at.

The lecturers' enthusiasm for the subject was infectious

What were the main reasons you took that course?

Engineering has always been a passion of mine (passed on to me by my father) and I love cars and all things technical, so the HND Motorsport and conversion to the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree really appealed to me. I had vague goals of working in the automotive sector, and without Derby couldn’t have achieved this.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

A big factor was to move away from home at 18. Whilst I was still at college I knew one or two students who were on the course and their feedback and experiences of the course sounded exactly what I wanted in terms of facilities and teaching staff.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

Quite simply if I hadn’t studied this course, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I did have an apprenticeship lined up before I came to Derby but chose to study instead. I know I wouldn’t be at the level I am now if I’d gone down the apprenticeship route.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

The lecturers' enthusiasm for the subject was infectious and their passion for motorsport and engineering really instilled a sense of achievement with the work that they set. I struggled with some subjects, but they were always prepared to go the extra mile to make sure that I understood the course material and answer any questions I had.

The lecturers helped me to achieve my learning career goals and from the open day I attended I felt like Derby was the place for me.

Quite simply if I hadn’t studied this course, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

The Career Development Centre gave good advice including; CV writing, presentation skills and to how to ‘sell yourself’ when looking for a job in the competitive graduate workplace. These skills helped me land my first job in engineering with my dream company – Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) – just one month after graduating.

What are your future plans?

I have a good development plan in place at JLR, so I hope to progress from my current role into management. I was made a Senior Engineer in 2013 and have had several promotional steps since, leading new engine programmes which I am proud of. I hope to have many more achievements to list in the years to come!

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

Talk to current students to get their views on how the course meets their expectations. Explain your aspirations to the lecturers, and finally if you have a passion for motorsport or engineering and want to make that your profession, I’m sure you’ll fit right in.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?

I am still in touch with most of my alumni, some of which really have become friends for life. My chief lecturer still takes an interest in us and our careers, and we keep in touch via social media. 

"The lecturers enthusiasm for the subject was infectious and their passion for motorsport and engineering really instilled a sense of achievement with the work that they set." James Waller