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Spotlight: Mini Nambiar, Research and Development Project Manager at JFD

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

As a child I really enjoyed repairing broken household items with my dad – who was also an engineer. My first hands on experience was wiring in an florescent tube light in my bedroom – that’s when I learnt that wet hand doesn’t pair well with electricity!

Tell us about your career journey so far

Following my graduation in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from India, my first job was for a start-up company as a hardware design engineer in Taiwan. This was an excellent experience which gave me a strong foundation at the start my career. Thereafter, I worked in manufacturing industry with an electronics contract manufacturer, Solectron in Bangalore, India. Then I got an opportunity to work in consumer electronics industry with Pace when we immigrated to UK in 2006. I was able to support Pace, a leading supplier of Set Top Boxes at that time, with my prior experience. At Pace, I started managing smaller projects after achieving PRINCE2 project management qualification. This helped me to build on managing people, partnerships with subcontractors and creating value for the business while I was transforming my role from Senior Engineer to Project Manager. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to work in the subsea engineering field, initially with Nautronix and later with JFD Aberdeen. During this period, I did my MSc in Subsea Engineering from University of Aberdeen on a part time basis. This course really helped me understand the opportunities in subsea field as well as interact with academia and the industry. Currently I am part of the innovation team at JFD delivering R&D projects that improve safety of underwater operations. Along with this, we are also looking into various innovation opportunities in energy transition especially with low carbon technologies.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Maths was my favourite subject at school. The satisfaction and joy of solving a problem is unparalleled. At an early age, I developed an aptitude in logical arguments and reasoning which gave me a good foundation for Maths. The best thing about maths is that it is not ambiguous, there may be several ways to get to the answer but there is only one correct solution.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

Degree in Engineering or similar STEM subject is very useful in Innovation environment. Along with technical skills, we also need good communicators who can explain complex problems in a simple and logical way.

Investigator, analytical and problem solving skills are critical in design and innovation. My hiring mantra is: Attitude and growth mind-set are more important than intelligence.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

For my role within Research and development, we need to look for opportunities (the glass is always half full) and not be afraid of failure. This is the best part of my job, it can be frustrating and challenging at times, but the excitement of solving a problem is really satisfying.

What is a normal day in your role like?

Within Research and Development at JFD, there is never a dull moment. Work typically ranges from developing business cases for new research and development opportunities (similar to pitching at dragons den for investment) to bringing the team together to deliver and launch the next product innovation to the market. I work closely with the lead engineer and technical authority on the project to deliver solutions within the constraints of project management golden triangle – Cost, Quality and Time. At each decision point, we need to understand the impact on budget, schedule and quality before committing to the way forward, thereby, delivering the best return on investment for the business.

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

Outer Space has always captured our imagination however we are ignorant of the unexplored opportunities on our own planet – namely the oceans. It remains one of the most unexplored areas of our planet, nonetheless a huge stream of career opportunities in the subsea sector is ready to be grabbed.

The experiment below will demonstrate the effect of depth on object under water- as you go deeper the pressure increases.

Equipment : Plastic bottle, pin or nail to make hole, masking tape/ cello tape, water

Method: Take an empty plastic bottle and ask an adult to make 3 holes that are 5 cm apart. Tape the holes with masking tape or cello tape. Now fill the bottle with water and place the bottles with holes facing the sink. Remove the tape from all 3 holes and let the water eject out.

What do you observe?

Results: From the bottom hole, the water will shoot out farther and more forcefully. Why is that?

The water in the bottom is under greater pressure than the water coming out of the top hole, so it exits the bottle with greater force. As water is denser than air, 10m of water column exerts same amount of pressure as the entire Earth’s atmosphere (which is about 10,000 km thick!). This means that if a diver goes to 10 meters underwater, he/she would experience the pressure of two atmospheres pressing down. Similarly, if the diver goes to 20 meters underwater, there would be three atmospheres pressure acting on them.


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