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help required in understanding my next immediate step - arsenal49 - 05-01-2012

Hi everyone,

First of all thanks for such a wonderful forum which i hope to use more often as i prepare for my exams over next 10 months. (part of my new year resolution!) Tongue

A little about my background: I have done MEng honours in Electronics and Communication Engineering and currently working in a railway industry as an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) Engineer, for less than 2 years. I am a recent graduate so still very new to the field.

My high-level goal is to gain licence 1.1.100 (Assistant Signalling Design Engineer)

For that to accomplish, my understanding of the procedure to follow is:-
=>Become an associate member of IRSE before end of February 2012
=>Apply to sit in the exams to be held in October 2012 (in England)

Right, here is a list of things that are not immediately clear to me. I will appreciate if anyone would take some time to reply.

1) How many modules do i need to sit in to gain 1.1.100 licence?
2)How do i choose exactly which modules to take? i.e. which of the modules are relevant to my needs considering im going for 1.1.100 license.
3)If i pass the exam than i should be awarded the license right?
4)How long before i will be awarded this license, after passing the exam? and what steps are needed to be taken following that (if any).
5)What if i fail one module? do i have to wait until the next year (12 months) to sit in again?
6)Will i need to go through in-house assessment of some sort? The company i work for is pretty small company (35-50 employees) and is not on the approved assessment agent list (or whatever its called). What are my options.
7)The work that my company does kind of touches on the subject relevant to signal designing and reviewing. For example, we review other companies designs and layout etc but never prepare it for them. We look at them from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) point of view. So, i am trying to extend my knowledge of the subject by going beyond the EMC aspect of their design. I think the best way is to study for this exam as that will no doubt help me gain more knowledge.
8)I will appreciate if anyone has any experience of people coming from EMC background into this field.

Thanks for going through my rather long post. I didn't imagine it to be that long when i started writing it Tongue

Happy new year


RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - PJW - 05-01-2012

(05-01-2012, 12:55 PM)arsenal49 Wrote: 1) How many modules do i need to sit in to gain 1.1.100 licence?

None!

The IRSE Exam is all about breadth of knowledge necessary for gaining full corporate membership of the Instituion; licensing is about being able to do the day job. Obviously there is some synergy, but actually completely independent since you can have a license without being a member of be a Member without a licence. Probably you should initially concentrate in getting a licence, but having said that starting to study for the exam is sensible even if it will be a year or two before ready to take it.

You'll find there is some information relating to the distinction under the Just Starting topic.

Quote:2)How do i choose exactly which modules to take? i.e. which of the modules are relevant to my needs considering im going for 1.1.100 license.
You must do mod 1 but not necessarily (and indeed PROBABLY NOT) first
Then 3 others.
Depends on the work you actually do but probably module 3 re Signalling Principles and module 5 re Signlling Applications.
By chance these are the ones we are doing at the London Study Group this year; we meet in Victoria area 17:00 - 19:00 on Tuesdays as a general rule. Details in the Study Group topic

Quote:3)If i pass the exam than i should be awarded the license right?

Totally wrong- see item 1.

However any study you do for IRSE Exam will be very useful to prove "underpinning knowledge" needed for the licence categories.

Quote:4)How long before i will be awarded this license, after passing the exam? and what steps are needed to be taken following that (if any).
As above, not relevant. To get a licence you need knowledge, training, experience, workplace assessment then your paperwork goes off to an independent assessor, obtain a temporary licence and then the formal licence.
Nothing to do with the exam.

Quote:5)What if i fail one module? do i have to wait until the next year (12 months) to sit in again?
Yes

Quote:6)Will i need to go through in-house assessment of some sort? The company i work for is pretty small company (35-50 employees) and is not on the approved assessment agent list (or whatever its called). What are my options.
As 4, you do need to be workplace assessed and this is often by an in-house assessor. However such services can be brought in from another company- these are known as assessing agencies. Many of the larger orgainsiations are in the business of selling their services to outsiders as weell as being used in-house; there are also some independent consultants working in the field. Suggest you investigate from the IRSE's main websitre that has a link to the IRSE License scheme information.

Quote:7)The work that my company does kind of touches on the subject relevant to signal designing and reviewing. For example, we review other companies designs and layout etc but never prepare it for them. We look at them from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) point of view. So, i am trying to extend my knowledge of the subject by going beyond the EMC aspect of their design. I think the best way is to study for this exam as that will no doubt help me gain more knowledge.
based on this then module 7 may be appropriate to you.
The whole idea of the exam is that it causes you to learn about elements of signal engineering with wich you are totally unfamiliar, but it is usually best to start with a module most aligned to what you already know.

Quote:8)I will appreciate if anyone has any experience of people coming from EMC background into this field.

Do look at the module 7 area of this website for some relevant info, and indeed put EMC in the search to see what comes up.
I work in an office on a major re-signalling project where there are 2 EMC engineers with a long history of working in rail but are not themselves signal engineers- however they have picked up a bit, just like we pick up a bit of their specialism.

Happy new year to you as well.
You may care to attend the YM AGM, half day seminar and Review of 2011 exam in a couple of weeks time- you do not need to have applied to be a member of the IRSE yet, but do register asap to reserve your place (details on website under Exam Reviews thread within the Exam and Exam Centres topic)




RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - Peter - 05-01-2012

(05-01-2012, 12:55 PM)arsenal49 Wrote: Hi everyone,

First of all thanks for such a wonderful forum which i hope to use more often as i prepare for my exams over next 10 months. (part of my new year resolution!) Tongue

A little about my background: I have done MEng honours in Electronics and Communication Engineering and currently working in a railway industry as an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) Engineer, for less than 2 years. I am a recent graduate so still very new to the field.

My high-level goal is to gain licence 1.1.100 (Assistant Signalling Design Engineer)

For that to accomplish, my understanding of the procedure to follow is:-
=>Become an associate member of IRSE before end of February 2012
=>Apply to sit in the exams to be held in October 2012 (in England)

Right, here is a list of things that are not immediately clear to me. I will appreciate if anyone would take some time to reply.

1) How many modules do i need to sit in to gain 1.1.100 licence?

Do not conflate licensing with the exam. They are two completely separate things and neither is a pre-requisite for the other and neither is a guarantee of achieving the other. I suggest that you have a look at the licensing webiste to give you a better understanding. One other detail to note is that the new design licence categories have just been released and the Assitstant Designer has been replaced with the subtly, but importantly different 1.1.500 Design Assistant.

Quote:2)How do i choose exactly which modules to take? i.e. which of the modules are relevant to my needs considering im going for 1.1.100 license.

N/A - see above

Quote:3)If i pass the exam than i should be awarded the license right?

No

Quote:4)How long before i will be awarded this license, after passing the exam? and what steps are needed to be taken following that (if any).

They are completely separate and you can consider being assessed for the licence whether or not you have passed the exam.

Quote:5)What if i fail one module? do i have to wait until the next year (12 months) to sit in again?

The exams are held once a year in October. The results are ratified in December and hence the next opportunity for retake is at the next October session.

Quote:6)Will i need to go through in-house assessment of some sort? The company i work for is pretty small company (35-50 employees) and is not on the approved assessment agent list (or whatever its called). What are my options.

Licensing is a two stage process where you undergo a workplace assessment with one assessor and a competence assessment with another. If your employer does not have either type of assessor, the licensing registrar will be able to give you a list of companies which are registered for the relevant category and you (or your company) will have to make the procurement arrangements.

Quote:7)The work that my company does kind of touches on the subject relevant to signal designing and reviewing. For example, we review other companies designs and layout etc but never prepare it for them. We look at them from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) point of view. So, i am trying to extend my knowledge of the subject by going beyond the EMC aspect of their design. I think the best way is to study for this exam as that will no doubt help me gain more knowledge.

Modules 1 and 7 of the exam consider safety and systems engineering in a braoder sense that "pure" signalling and hence sound likelt to be relevant for you. You have to pass four modules (Module 1 being compulsory) so you would have to look at the areas of learning that interest you to consider whcih other modules to work for.

Quote:8)I will appreciate if anyone has any experience of people coming from EMC background into this field.

I don't know anyone directly.

Quote:Thanks for going through my rather long post. I didn't imagine it to be that long when i started writing it Tongue

Happy new year

I am nor sure whether you are looking to pass the exam becasue you thought it was a route to licensing, and why it is you want to gain a licence, so given the information above, maybe you could give a little more thought to what you are trying to achieve and if you have more questions about th exam, please come back to us.




RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - arsenal49 - 05-01-2012

Thank you very much for prompt replies which i am still digesting Smile

There was indeed a confusion in my head between passing an exam and gaining a license - which is now clarified.

Regarding my thought process behind achieving this licence...
I am starting to really like the subject of signalling design, in general, through my limited exposure so far in the field. So, i thought the next logical step would be to gain relevant certifications/memberships that would help broaden my career path!

I looked at few job opportunities advertised by different companies for "Assistant Signalling Designer" role and they all list Licence 1.1.100 as essential requirement. From that, i inferred it is something that needs to be done first and fore-most. So, i started looking into it.

Could you (peter and PJW) please tell me what should be my road map towards achieving this target of getting licensed. For example, if i pass Module 1 and 7 at least, and fail others... will it still be helpful towards gaining this license?

I am trying to iron-out my path towards achieving this license and any help will be gratefully received.

Thanks in advance.


RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - PJW - 05-01-2012

We don't always answer in stereo- we must have been typing similar stuff simultaneously in our lunch breaks!

I'll leave Peter to respond re the mechanics of getting a licence since he is far more involved in it than I am.
In terms of knowledge it is far easier to obtain an Assistant Designer qualification than pass an IRSE exam module. The problem however is the "chicken and egg" situation- to get a licence you really need evidence that you are already undertaking the role, albeit under mentorship.

However I gather from your description of the company in which you work that you probably do not have the opportunity to get that experience, because that category of task isn't the work that the company does to earn its money and that there are not licensed designers and checkers in your workplace. That may sound as if you are snookered but not necessarily. Your company may find it beneficial to negotiate with one of the companies with which you work to do a "staff exchange" so that junior staff from one organisation get a taste of working in the other- there can be mutual benefit and indeed can cement long term relationships and lead to less "interface issues" & misunderstandings in the future.

Also don't get too hung up about what companies say they want; it is an aspiration, but they may well have to settle for far less.

If you wanted to move jobs in a year's time and a company is recruiting because they foresee a workload which will need to be done, what choices do they have?:

a) poach an existing Assistant Designer from a competitor. Either they strike lucky and happen to find someone who wants to relocate for domestic reasons or else they must attract by offering some incentive. Perhaps this may just be "get away from existing boss" or "better long- term career prospects" but it may well have to be "more money". Also they might be suspicious if the existing company didn't seek to retain them- is the person actually worth employing?

b) get someone who has been made redundant from former employer and looking for re-employment. It will obviously depend on the circumstances (the industry is small enough that these are generally quite widely known), but often the good staff have no difficulty in gaining new employment reasonably quickly. hence if someone is still available on the job market a while later, then again one might be suspicious of why. Clearly if it is known that an employer made redundant a large number of staff at a site and industry workloads have been light then there is a rational reason for someone still looking; otherwise one might ask why that person was firstly one of those chosen for redundancy and secondly hadn't yet secured other employment...

c) seek to recruit someone totally new to the industry and accept the need to start training them from the beginning,

d) employ someone like you who has no licence but has been working in the industry for a year or two and has at least learnt the basics, the jargon etc.

So whatever the job advert says you actually would stand a good chance. If at the interview you can demonstrate that you are already self-learning by beginning to work towards the IRSE exam, attend the Younger Member or indeed main London or regional IRSE meetings then the lack of an existing licence will hardly be a handicap. Frankly an "Assistant" license category doesn't permit you to sign anything; I regard it more of a mark that you know longer need to be closely mentored for asic activities and then you are ready to work towards the main category of designer/ tester/ maintainer / installer etc. by beginning to do that sort of work under the control of a mentor; it is when you gain that category that you become a "useful asset". [This does not mean of course that your work is of no value prior to this; I am talking purely in terms of work that must be undertaken by a license holder.]







(05-01-2012, 02:07 PM)arsenal49 Wrote: Thank you very much for prompt replies which i am still digesting Smile

There was indeed a confusion in my head between passing an exam and gaining a license - which is now clarified.

Regarding my thought process behind achieving this licence...
I am starting to really like the subject of signalling design, in general, through my limited exposure so far in the field. So, i thought the next logical step would be to gain relevant certifications/memberships that would help broaden my career path!

I looked at few job opportunities advertised by different companies for "Assistant Signalling Designer" role and they all list Licence 1.1.100 as essential requirement. From that, i inferred it is something that needs to be done first and fore-most. So, i started looking into it.

Could you (peter and PJW) please tell me what should be my road map towards achieving this target of getting licensed. For example, if i pass Module 1 and 7 at least, and fail others... will it still be helpful towards gaining this license?

I am trying to iron-out my path towards achieving this license and any help will be gratefully received.

Thanks in advance.




RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - Peter - 06-01-2012

(05-01-2012, 02:07 PM)arsenal49 Wrote: Could you (peter and PJW) please tell me what should be my road map towards achieving this target of getting licensed. For example, if i pass Module 1 and 7 at least, and fail others... will it still be helpful towards gaining this license?

I am trying to iron-out my path towards achieving this license and any help will be gratefully received.

In order to gain a licence, you must be able to demonstrate that you consistently carry out work that meets the performance criteria laid down in the competence standard and, by doing so, demonstrate that you have all of the underpinning knowledge. Although there is no link between licence and exam, the two are alike in the sense that there no set course or fixed set of actions that is the only route to achieving the licence.

Typically, someone will be put into a post or recruited and will undergo relevant training and supervision until they can demonstrate competence in discrete areas.

For a design assistant, you will be expected to understand the design process, version control and presentation, as well as the level of equipment knowledge relevant to the designs you are allocated.

The licensing process, as I said before, if for a workplace assessment and then a competence assessment. What most organisations do, is that they will use a workplace assessor to help a candidate to formulate an action plan which will point you in the direction of items from your daily work are directly relevant and where you will need further training or development, or experience of other work aspects, in order to be able to gather evidence to cover the compelete range. When this action plan has been fulfilled, the candidate can formally undergo the Workplace Assessment.



RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - rfreitas - 18-06-2012

I find this post very usefull, as I was mistaken. I thought passing the exam M1, and 3 more would get me the license. Sad
Arsenal49, how are your studys going?


RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - arsenal49 - 18-06-2012

(18-06-2012, 10:38 AM)rfreitas Wrote: I find this post very usefull, as I was mistaken. I thought passing the exam M1, and 3 more would get me the license. Sad
Arsenal49, how are your studys going?

Well, as it turns out, to gain this license you need to pass exams and to pass exams you must be working in the same field for one of the approved employers which seems the only way to actually be able to pass exams and be competent enough (seems like they discourage you to study in your own time towards this license! and move from other engineering discipline to railway signalling discipline)...

Seems like a vicious cycle to me where no outsider can study on his/her own to get the relevant qualification/license etc. ;you must be employed by one of the said employers and only then you stand any chance to clearing the exams and gaining license.

To me, that was just not possible as i wasnt working for one of these approved companies thus it wasnt worthwhile for me to study for these exams as i will never have gained the license because of lack of 'practical' skills.

I am personally disappointed a little bit because after looking at the modules and study material, i thought i would enjoy this type of work but alas, unless you are already in the circle of railway signalling (i.e. working professionally) , there is no hope...

I am sure the powers at be have very good reason for this type of framework towards gaining license but noone can deny the fact that this is very discouraging to all those young (and old) engineers who have been working in a railway environment and want to move into signalling discipline but can't because of these artificial road-blocks.

rfreitas, What is your background and your motivation to gain this license? are you uk-based?

Thanks


RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - Jerry1237 - 18-06-2012

arsenal49,

That is not true. You do not need to pass the exam to get a license nor do you need a license to pass the exam. They are entirely seperate.

To pass the exam, you need to show you understand the principles of telecommunications and/or signalling plus an understanding of management of these on the railway and safety. These can be learnt or experience gained from other sources but it is easier to learn these skills when it is your occupation.

The license requires evidence that you as an individual can consistantly meet a set standard. I cannot see how you would do this, or why, outside of the industry.

Finally, YOU DO NOT need a license to work in signalling. What you need is a sympathetic employer who will train you, mentor you and support you through the license process or provide suitable training to allow you to fulfil your role. There are plenty of organisation who will do this as there is a void of competent designers currently. How do you think most people started as it isn't something taught at school or college?


RE: help required in understanding my next immediate step - rfreitas - 18-06-2012

(18-06-2012, 11:27 AM)arsenal49 Wrote:
(18-06-2012, 10:38 AM)rfreitas Wrote: I find this post very usefull, as I was mistaken. I thought passing the exam M1, and 3 more would get me the license. Sad
Arsenal49, how are your studys going?

Well, as it turns out, to gain this license you need to pass exams and to pass exams you must be working in the same field for one of the approved employers which seems the only way to actually be able to pass exams and be competent enough (seems like they discourage you to study in your own time towards this license! and move from other engineering discipline to railway signalling discipline)...

Seems like a vicious cycle to me where no outsider can study on his/her own to get the relevant qualification/license etc. ;you must be employed by one of the said employers and only then you stand any chance to clearing the exams and gaining license.

To me, that was just not possible as i wasnt working for one of these approved companies thus it wasnt worthwhile for me to study for these exams as i will never have gained the license because of lack of 'practical' skills.

I am personally disappointed a little bit because after looking at the modules and study material, i thought i would enjoy this type of work but alas, unless you are already in the circle of railway signalling (i.e. working professionally) , there is no hope...

I am sure the powers at be have very good reason for this type of framework towards gaining license but noone can deny the fact that this is very discouraging to all those young (and old) engineers who have been working in a railway environment and want to move into signalling discipline but can't because of these artificial road-blocks.

rfreitas, What is your background and your motivation to gain this license? are you uk-based?

Thanks

Thank you for your reply. I'm not U.K. based right now. But I'm available to relocate, since I'm not getting any job offers back at Portugal at any discipline. Company's here tend to recruit only if you already have some background in the same industry or if you are fresh out of university. :S
Seems like i'm stuck in a loop. When I had no experience, that was the main road block. Right now is having experience in another field of operation. That and discovering that being 35 is being to old to get a job. Smile