UCL News


Spotlight on... Faiszarn Riaz

27 August 2020

This week we meet Faiszarn Riaz, who is a second-year Mechanical Engineering Apprentice on the UCL Early-Career Engineering Apprenticeship Programme. Here, Faiszarn chats to us about his love of engineering and being shortlisted for this year's BAME Apprenticeship Awards.

Faiszarn Riaz

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a second-year Mechanical Engineering Apprentice on the UCL Early-Career Engineering Apprenticeship Programme. The programme involves rotating every six months within four departments (The Bartlett, Mechanical Engineering, SoP and CEGE) to get exposure to different workshops and environments and learn about various methods and practices of working. 

My day job entails producing components and parts from raw materials for student projects and supporting technical staff on their projects. Each job is unique and based on the needs of the student and what they want to achieve. For example, during my rotation in Mechanical Engineering, a student was researching how to make petrol engines more efficient and eco-friendly. In the engine bays, I would make different parts and add-ons and attach them to the engines.

I have recently completed my NVQ college off-the-job training two years ahead of time. Soon, I’ll be undertaking a higher-level college qualification.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL for two years now. Before this, I was an A-level student and worked part-time.

I applied to be on the pilot apprenticeship programme straight after Sixth Form, as I knew the traditional route of academia was not for me. The apprenticeship gave me a style of learning which suits me best – a balance of practical on-the-job training with the vital day release to college to study and get a qualification.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I have two achievements that go hand in hand. I am proud to have achieved top grades (all distinction level) in my studies and to have completed my apprenticeship early. Because of these accomplishments, and my hard work and commitment, my managers and training provider nominated me for this year's BAME Apprenticeship Awards. I have made it as a finalist and hope I can get the win! Being recognised on a national stage means a lot to me. I hope it can open up more doors/opportunities and that my story will inspire the next generation of engineers!

Tell us about a project you are working on now, which is top of your to-list?

I planned to finish a college project – which is currently near completion – before lockdown, producing a sine bar vice, which can be used on machinery for different applications in an engineering workshop. As I have now completed my course, I have no deadline to complete this by and it is now as and when I have spare time in the workshop.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I can’t pick one album so will say Michael Jackson’s entire back catalogue 

Gladiator is my all-time favourite film.

I am not into novels!

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None, because it’s a hardware problem!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Top figures and officials in the engineering industry, the cast of Titans of CNC, and an ancient engineer such as Leonardo da Vinci!

What advice would you give your younger self?

My advice would be to take criticism less negatively. Take it as a “building block” and words of wisdom.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am 20 years old, despite people believing I look even younger!]

What is your favourite place?

My favourite place is in an engineering workshop – a place where boredom never occurs. I am always learning and thrive there, working alongside inspiring engineers and students. The social interaction makes my job more enjoyable.