Employee Spotlight: Callum Clarke, Automation Software Engineer
How long have you been with Guidance Automation?
Almost 5 years.
What is your role at Guidance Automation?
I’m a software developer on the R&D team, working specifically on the Fleet Management System.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Birmingham City University.
How and when did you begin your career in robotics and automation?
My role at Guidance Automation was my first software job out of university, so getting into the automation industry was a matter of opportunity more than anything.
What is your area of expertise?
I’m primarily a C# developer and I specialise in the .NET stack.
What is your favourite part of the job?
The best part of the job is the moment when our QA engineers report that a new feature or fix that I’ve implemented is working as intended. It means a lot knowing that my day-to-day coding work is making a difference to the software that our customers use in the real world.
Can you give us an idea of how long a typical project takes to deliver and what is involved?
Depending on complexity, a project could take anywhere from a couple of months to a year. We need to take the time to work with a customer to figure out a concrete set of requirements, then discuss among the team what will be required to meet those requirements. Sometimes this might require implementing brand-new features or creating a piece of software to integrate a customer’s management system with our fleet system, but the key is co-operation with the customer to achieve agreed-upon goals, whether that be remote or via in-person site visits.
What is something people in your industry have to deal with that you want to fix?
Unclear goals are unhelpful for both us and the client, so I think taking the extra time and care before a project properly kicks off to nail down a set of achievable and measurable requirements that both parties agree to is very important and should be taken more seriously in every project.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Often times there will be a chat with my team lead who can help focus my priorities, then I take a bug or feature I’m working on or want to work on from our issue tracker system and get to work. Once a week, we have a project-wide status meeting that helps all of our colleagues across the world stay in-sync.
From a work viewpoint what has the Covid-19 pandemic been like for you so far?
The pandemic has pretty much eliminated any chance of attending trade shows, which are useful not only for getting out name out there but also for checking out what other companies in the automation space are doing with their products.
How do you view the state of the robotics and automation market?
“Rapid growth” is probably an understatement – so many companies these days are seeing the value of automating parts of their process using robots just like ours.
How has Guidance Automation helped you in your career development?
Being my first job out of university, working at GA has helped me build upon the theoretical skills and knowledge I gained during my studies and apply those ideas to real-world problems. In addition, various projects have presented opportunities to learn new technologies and frameworks that help me stay up-to-date as a software engineer.
What’s the best career advice you can give to others?
A degree is a great thing to have and getting one will teach you a lot of important skills, but I think not 100% necessary – if you’re a self-taught software developer and want to find full-time work, I think a good portfolio of your personal projects will go a very long way.
Who inspires you?
The late Satoru Iwata of Nintendo was not only an extremely talented software developer and engineer, but he also valued every employee under him extremely highly, even taking pay cuts so that Nintendo employees wouldn’t suffer during the company’s tougher times. I have a lot of respect for him, and he left a great legacy behind.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
I would probably have ended up in a game development career path – it was my childhood dream!
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My water filter – always stay hydrated!