Name: Max Rochefort-Shugar
University or college attended:
BSc Applied Software Engineering at Swansea University.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
For me, the main appeal of an apprenticeship was the opportunity to study towards a qualification in a subject that I have a genuine interest in and then reinforce my knowledge by applying it in a professional environment. After completing my GCSE’s, I saved up enough money to build my first computer which I used as a tool to teach myself about computer programming. This is where my passion for writing software began. What really excited me about the software industry was the endless amount of possibilities that can be achieved using computers.
As I was studying towards my A-levels, I had already decided that I wanted to do an apprenticeship. For me to fully grasp a concept, I needed to apply it, which I knew an apprenticeship could offer me. During my time at St David’s College I got involved with the EESW project and the teacher running it supported me and my fellow classmates though our project. In parallel to this, I met Jessica Leigh Jones, a current Sony UK TEC employee and an ex-student of the college who at the time was studying towards her degree in astrophysics. She supported me and another student in developing a system which would help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease remember though the use of imagery and sound. I wrote the code for this system which made use of RFID technology and a Raspberry Pi computer to scan tags attached to images and play music. Despite the project being at its very early stages, I went onto compete as a national finalist for the Young Engineer of the Year award. Unfortunately, I did not win but it was a fantastic experience. These educational experiences outside of the classroom, which involved applying theoretical concepts into practice, reinforced my decision in applying for an apprenticeship.
At the age of 17 I had applied for an apprenticeship scheme but was unsuccessful therefore I decided to study electrical and electronic engineering at Swansea University as I enjoyed the electronics module I studied in AS physics. Despite having completed the first two semesters and achieving a first in the majority of my modules I decided that computer science would be a better fit for me. I suspended my studies and was due to begin studying computer science the next academic year.
After suspending my studies, was informed that Sony were recruiting Electronic and Mechanical Apprentices. During the interview, I made it clear that I was interested in Software Apprenticeships. Coincidentally, the engineers at Sony were in the process of developing a Software and Electronic Apprenticeship programme. I’ve been fortunate enough to be the first candidate for the Sony UK Technology Centre Software and Electronic Apprenticeship Scheme and have helped shape the future of software apprenticeships for the apprentices that come after me.
What are your key roles in Sony UK TEC?
My role involves the research, design, implementation and evaluation of key technologies which behave as core components within Sony UK TEC's Factory of the Future. I have designed and am currently managing the development of our Industry 4.0 asset management system which will be used to control Sony's production processes and behave as an integration point for all data sources throughout the factory. I create presentations on Advanced Manufacturing Research Operations Centre (AMROC)'s work, which are then presented to upper management and support apprentices and graduates to assist with their projects. I design web-based dashboards and tools for production which aim to deliver the right data to the right people at the right time. I'm currently writing device drivers and middleware for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) smart devices to our NoSQL databases.
How do you feel about your duties day to day?
I enjoy my role at Sony UK TEC. Software engineering has been a passion of mine from a young age. The pace at which I work at depends on the complexity of the project as well as its sort term and long term benefit to the business. If a bug is found in a piece of software which has been deployed into production then I put my long term strategic projects on hold and begin working on resolving production related issues immediately. I also manage one of AMROC's long term strategic projects, which involves architectural design and implementation. Strategic projects are generally completed over a longer time period due to their sheer size and complexity.
Have there been any opportunities or new experiences beyond your role?
I have received countless opportunities whilst working for Sony UK TEC. I've have been fortunate enough to win the Welsh Apprentice of the Year award. I've had the opportunity to attend a trip to CERN in Switzerland, home of the large hadron collider and have had the responsibility of representing Sony at manufacturing conferences and summits, speaking over the table with company directors and senior management of both small & medium enterprises and multinational corporations, such as HP and Microsoft, about the future of manufacturing through digital transformation.
Have you learned any new skills since starting at Sony UK TEC?
Whilst working for Sony UK TEC I have obtained an A-level in Electronics (Grade A), a Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals (Level 4) and a HND in Computing (Distinction). Last year I was successful in receiving an unconditional offer from Swansea University for direct entry onto the second year of the BSc in Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship program. I've gained experience with a vast number of programming languages, standards and technologies. Interpreting customers requirements and transforming into technical specifications. Working with customers throughout the factory to deliver the best possible solutions. I manage our relations with external companies and coordinating on-site visits.
Are you involved in anything beyond your role?
Outside of work I like to invest my time in projects with friends and family which include mobile applications and bespoke websites. On many occasions, friends have approached me with an idea and we’ve worked together to create prototypes. I spend a lot of time in the gym and am currently working with friends to develop a mobile app and developing a website for my dad’s property management company.
In October 2018, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon on behalf of Sony UK TEC to raise money for the Children’s Ward at the Princess of Wales Hospital. Sony UK TEC’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy involves a group called “Team Extreme” who annually take on a physically enduring challenge to raise awareness of our chosen charity. As part of a “Team Extreme”, a few weeks ago I decided to cycle 70 miles from Bridgend to Monmouth which I consider to be quite an achievement considering I hadn’t ridden a bike since the age of 12.
How do you feel about working at Sony UK TEC?
AMROC is a great department to work for, I have a great mentor (Karl Bibey) and feel like my work is valued and brings positive change to the company. In addition, Sony UK TEC has a great sports and social environment. I'm a regular user of the gym and partake in most events arranged by the team.
When I think about my future at Sony UK TEC, I see myself as a Software Architect - researching, evaluating, designing and implementing cutting edge technologies throughout Sony while managing a team of Software Engineers. I’d like to specialise in a particular field of computer science which would likely involve further education. While specialising in a particular area, I would also like to entertain the idea of becoming an effective project manager capable of delivering projects over extended periods of time.