De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Alumnus of the Month is hardware engineer Ben Kerr, who works as a physical design engineer at the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.
The Electronic Engineering BEng graduate’s career has taken him all over the world, eventually landing him his dream role leading a team working on products for the multinational technology company.
Ben began his studies in 1991, witnessing DMU’s official transition to a university. He spent a placement year during his degree working at the UK offices of US computer network company 3Com. The experience landed him a job there after graduating, and inspired him to eventually relocate to work for a start-up company in the US.
He said: “In America the technology sector was much more established at the time. A friend offered me a job working with him at a start-up in Spokane, Washington – they managed to make the most of the enthusiasm for technology.”
The company was sold two years later and Ben returned to the UK, working for several companies where he witnessed rapid improvements in the power and size of processors, designing 10 unique silicone chips himself and acquiring 12 patents. It was during this time that he also saw the rise of technology giants such as Apple and Google.
He said: “Although I hadn't planned on going back to the US, I decided to submit a CV to Google in 2018 and forgot about it for around six months until I received a call asking me to interview for a position.
“It's a very different experience going to work for a major corporation. When I was working at start-up businesses, the focus would be on one specific product around which the entire success or failure of the company hung.
“Now I have greater resources and the company employs more than 100,000 people, but I still have the comfort of working in an innovative, focused team who are passionate about examining and solving problems in unique ways.”
Thinking back on his degree, Ben remembers the period as being one of great change.
“Although I started learning in the Hawthorn Building of Leicester Polytechnic, by the time I was in my final year I was working in the Queen's Building at the newly converted De Montfort University. Compared to what we have access to now, the technology I was working with was still in its very early stages,” he said.
“I loved my time in Leicester, I had always been fascinated by the workings of electronic equipment and my degree gave me the chance to expand my knowledge and pursue my passion.
“I really have to credit my degree from DMU for opening the door to my dream career – without it I would not have been able to easily secure the working visa I required.”
He advises any new graduates who are starting out in tech to not be intimidated by large companies.
He said: “Despite the imposing stature of huge companies like Google, graduates shouldn’t consider a career with them out of reach. They are global businesses and look for talent all around the world. Take a chance, give things a go and be determined in acquiring the experience to get the job you want.”
Posted on Wednesday 30th September 2020