Engineers make a difference every day. Meet Alex Cooke, whose childhood inspired him to take up engineering and who is now helping to create a cleaner, greener energy system for the future.
Hi, I’m Alex and I'm a Power Systems Engineer for National Grid Electricity Transmission.
When I tell people my job, they immediately think I climb up pylons – I’ve never done that in my life! What I do is analyse and develop the electricity transmission network in England and Wales, to meet future energy needs and use renewable energy more efficiently.
I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I was ten and was taken on a family and friends open day to Cottam Power Station, where my dad worked as an engineer. Seeing that size and scale up close was seriously impressive.
Engineers are responsible for every invention we take for granted in our daily lives. For me, the greatest invention is the internet; being able to talk to anyone in the world as if you’re there in the same room or find out anything with a few button pushes.
The best part of my job is knowing I’m having a positive impact on society.
The best part of my job is knowing I’m having a positive impact on society. For example, right now my team of 11 is developing the transmission network and making it suitable to meet future needs, especially by allowing us to use a lot more renewable energy.
I want my legacy to be that I was involved in facing the biggest challenges ever seen in the power industry and in the world – and meeting those challenges. I get huge job satisfaction from working behind the scenes to make net zero a reality.
I get huge job satisfaction from working behind the scenes to make net zero a reality.
I joined the National Grid engineering training programme after my A Levels. I know some of my teachers were surprised I was going down the apprenticeship route, but I saw it as a great alternative to university – plus, I was being paid rather than saddled with student debt like some of my friends.
On the programme, I received a great combination of formal training in electrical power engineering at Aston University in Birmingham in two-week blocks, on-site experience and moving out of home to live with friends. Now I’m half-way through a three-year part-time Masters degree at Manchester University and I’ve been working for five years.