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At CDP our team is growing all the time. Meet one of our latest recruits, mechanical engineer Adam Turner.
Has mechanical engineering always been a passion for you?
My fascination with making things work goes back to childhood. As a teenager I was into building and flying remote-controlled helicopters and I became part of a display team performing stunts at shows around the world. This led to me going straight out of school to work in San Jose, California for Century Helicopters on their research and development program.
That’s quite a gap year. Did you enjoy it?
Absolutely. It was a great opportunity to help develop the products I loved and to be in Silicon Valley, the global home of invention and innovation.
So what did you do following your engineering degree?
I got involved with a company that brings incredible ideas to life for commercials and TV shows. If you watch Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, Jamie Oliver’s co-presenter Jimmy Doherty builds, say, his own chocolate fountain machine or a DIY barbecue. Let’s just say he had a lot of help with it backstage! I also worked on the four house robots on the TV show Robot Wars, especially Shunt, the one that’s based on a digger, and Sir Killalot – the name speaks for itself.
And that’s not your only brush with showbiz, is it?
I also worked on special purpose drone technology for film and TV, which ended up in me creating a start-up company to develop and operate specialised drones that are safer and better able to carry large heavy cameras. If you’re filming a movie with a £100,000 camera flying above A list actors, you want to be absolutely sure your drone is safe and not going fall out of the sky. So I added a parachute system and redesigned the flight avionics and power train so that it had complete redundant systems. There’s a film I flew for recently which is coming out shortly called ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Idris Elba. Amongst many other piloting opportunities, I also spent some time filming for Apple Music in Sierra Leone on a short film about the musician Sampha, which was simply stunning.
Quite a varied experience! How do you hope to apply these at CDP?
Fundamentally I have always enjoyed the engineering design process regardless of the application. Although I am a mechanical engineer, I also enjoy electronics and software. For example, I built an electronic device that can automatically tune a 2-stroke internal combustion engine for a model aircraft. I also wrote a system to automatically interrogate raw flight data from a drone and produce flight and battery log documents that the Civil Aviation Authority need as part of their annual certification process. While I might not write software professionally, this insight helps me work more effectively on multi-disciplinary projects with CDP’s specialist engineers.
Do you enjoy leading projects?
Absolutely, I relish the prospect. Within my broad technical and businesses experience I enjoy understanding a client’s vision and implementing it through leading, motivating and mentoring teams, so I look forward to a balance of design work and project leadership at CDP.
What’s it like to join the team at CDP?
Friendly and welcoming. One thing I missed when I was working on my own was the chance to bounce ideas off like-minded colleagues and work in a team. It’s a big part of what drew me to CDP. The setting here is great, too – a short distance from Cambridge in a lovely spot. I’ve been joining the lunchtime walks and the countryside here is beautiful.
CDP is a great place to be. Not only are there all sorts of interesting projects going on but there is a real sense of enthusiasm. If you come in with an idea you can just take it to the hackspace and see if you can make it work. The facilities are excellent, and the attitude is really can-do and being a flat organisation with a lean management structure really empowers us to take responsibility, be creative and get things done quickly.
I understand you’re also a world record holder…
Twice over, actually. I was involved in many projects for The Gadget Show and, in that time, built two record-breaking machines. One was a jet bike that reached 72 mph and was powered by electric ducted fans. The other was the world’s fastest power tool dragster. It had six chainsaw engines and also, by coincidence achieved 72 mph down Santa Pod Raceway!
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