It’s a grad world: Catch up with Sam Horne, Graduate Mechanical Design Engineer


In my first blog before Christmas, I mentioned how much fun I was having with the tools available in the ITL workshop. Since then, I have been able to use these ‘toys’ in the design and construction of my own project. Like Josh mentioned in his update, I can’t really go into the specifics of what I’m currently on but I’m hoping it’s going to have a big impact for the company and perhaps the industry as a whole. It’s slightly frustrating not being able to talk about my project (as everyone in the office can attest, I do talk about it constantly) because I’m incredibly passionate about it and I believe it’s going to have numerous applications in the future.

What I can say about my current project is that it is a modular extension for one of our flagship validator products. It can be difficult to design add-on modules as you have to be careful not to affect or slow down the functionality of the existing products. Add-ons can dramatically change product applications, which is particularly useful as different countries have differing uses for our banknote validators. My project has been designed with a payment kiosk in mind, which requires our validator to process a large quantity of banknotes in a short space of time.

An aspect of the design process that many people may not appreciate is the number of times that you are required to scrap the design that you have devoted so much of your time and effort to. This may be due to the realisation that there is a critical flaw with the concept or simply that you find that it could be improved in a small but significant manner. I am currently on the fifth prototype of my current project and each incarnation has improved the fundamental mechanism along the way.

Things have been busy outside of work too. The arrival of the notoriously inconsistent British summertime has led to an increase in the number of events organised by the ITL social committee. Just last month, a group of us went go-karting in Wigan after work. I, myself had a great time but the aforementioned erratic weather meant that half the group were racing on a dry track and the other on a wet track. This led to a little friction between some members of the team, debating who was truly the fastest on the day. More recently, we were able to take part in an ‘escape room’ – a kind of puzzle game where you get locked in a small room and have to find clues and solve riddles in order to escape. We were stuck in a mock jail cell and then actually handcuffed to make things even trickier but we did escape in time!

I have also been taking advantage of the company’s onsite car garage to replace some faulty parts on my beloved car. There’s actually a mechanic’s down the road but I thought I’d be able to save a bit of money and give my engineering abilities a bit of a workout. Armed with a toolbox, overalls and a library of educational YouTube videos, I began work on fixing my car. Things didn’t go entirely to plan and I ended up having to come to work on a weekend to get the job done, nevertheless I really feel I accomplished something by not taking the easy option and wheeling it down the road to a qualified expert, plus it’s not like every office has their own garage space for staff to use!

I hope that this blog has given you a small insight into life at ITL and the work-life balance we’re afforded over here. I look forward to catching up with you again soon!

Sam in Garage