“Electronic Engineering was extremely normal, Mechanical Engineering was too mechanical, I was looking for the best of both worlds…”
At the age of 24 this lad has what it takes to write a book on what seems to be an already accomplished life. Neal Thomas Markham read for a BSc Engineering in Mechatronics degree at the University of Cape Town, the degree was a combination of mechanical and electronic engineering, in other words Robotics (No, this is not Science Fiction, you can actually study this!!) After completing his studies Neal entered Barloworld Equipment (http://www.barloworld-equipment.com/) at the beginning of 2005 where he is now the General Construction Product Manager and AccuGrade Product Specialist! Umm, not entirely sure what that all means, well here’s the low down:
1.General Construction Product Manager: “It’s the name given to a group of Caterpillar Machines i.e. General Construction Machines, GC Machines and Smaller Machines. Basically if my colleagues in Barloworld Equipment need support and knowledge on these products and their market that’s my department”- ah, that makes a bit more sense.
2.AccuGrade Specialist: “Marketing, that’s really what it is, proactively promoting GPS and laser guidance technology integrated into certain caterpillar models”
Wait a minute it all makes sense now! This Lad has to know how to handle, drive and make use of Caterpillar Machinery, and he gets paid to do it. So basically if you were a little kid playing around with big wheeled toy trucks and machines this is the lad who does it for a living. Besides having a job description that entails two jobs in one Neal’s position has led to some awesome and crazy travel and work experiences, including being stuck in a train station in Denmark whilst looking for the local Caterpillar Dealership….
In contrast his life at UCT was spent studying and working late hours, “No time to sit on the steps and chat!” His degree was built up on practicals and homework of building robots (yes after you leave school you still have homework, it’s pretty much the other certainty in life after death and taxes). However as his varsity life continued he got a lot better at handling the work load and managed to create a balanced student life.
If he weren’t doing what he does which is pretty much one of the coolest careers around, Neal says he would have pursued a career in Architecture or Graphic Design. But having travelled to Spain, Denmark, The United States and London with Barloworld he reckons he is enjoying his decision so far to tackle the Robotic side of life as opposed to the Artistic.
Food: Steamed Mussels in white wine sauce
Past time: Graphic Design and Photography
Message to young South African’s: “Follow what you interested in!”
Check out UCT’s Engineering and the Built Environment website to find out more about Mechatronic Engineering http://www.ebe.uct.ac.za/.