Ashley Wijesuriya

MEng Mechanical Engineering, 2021
Data Engineer, Kubrick Group

2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being generated daily so it’s safe to say, data is at the heart of many business's success! Data in its raw state is messy and usually difficult to use. My role as a Data Engineer at Kubrick Group is to handle this huge volume of data. Kubrick train graduates in data skills and deploy them at corporations. I have been deployed at Sainbury's Digital, Tech and Data. I create data pipelines that manipulate, move and store data so it can be used by an analyst or stakeholder to gain business insights.

Practically, this looks like using software and writing code (such as SQL) to ‘query’ a database. A query is just a way of requesting particular information from a database such as knowing ‘the number of 5th years who bought a Fab ticket in the month of May 2022’. Currently, I am querying our (Sainsburys) central database to extract the dataset we need. Basic analytics are then applied to the data such as comparing the effect of product in-store location on sales volume. This all occurs in an automated pipeline and the results are communicated to store managers via an app.

What’s the best thing about what you’re doing now?

Seeing the result of a huge, automated data pipeline is quite satisfying as it saves people so much time. There are many interacting parts in this ‘digital system’ and its amazing what code can do. When things break down, it can be interesting playing detective and finding the root of the problem and fixing it.

ashley wijesuriya

What got you interested in data?

I became interest in AI during my final year project with Professor Castellani. AI requires huge amounts of data to be trained on to be effective, leading me down the path of a Data Engineer. He also had an interesting module about Intelligent Algorithms and how it's used in many disciplines to optimise processes. There is huge growth in the data sphere and many problems are being solved by analysing Big Data!

How has your career developed since graduating?

I've learnt quite an array of software, coding languages and methodologies while at Kubrick. I've also learnt how business's utilise data for commercial benefit.

What skills you learned from degree or time at university would you say you use most in your job?

  • Mechanical engineering taught me how to solve problems and translate a problem or requirement into a tangible technical solution
  • Strong math skills can be handy when you are analysing data and it’s good to have that background to fall back on.
  • Learning how to code and applying it to mechanical engineering data was invaluable. Computers aren't everyone's cup of tea but they are solving problems in almost every technical domain.
  • Digital Bootcamps put on by B-Enterprising helped me think outside the box and more like an Entrepreneur rather than being excessively technical.
We Are (Third Width)

What motivates you?

Solving problems with others and providing value to society is always a nice feeling. Learning new technical skills is fun especially when you can apply it something outside of work. Finally, I like to travel and many data/tech roles allow you to be completely remote; a great option if you like to explore the world!

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

I wanted to become a Chartered Mechanical Engineer in the robotics industry. Birmingham is also a hub of activity with a lot going on. Not to mention, the campus is beautiful.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

Making friends with some great people and building a network. Also, taking part in a lot of the activities that UoB has to offer.

Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities?

I enjoyed participating in the B-Enterprising Bootcamps and workshops which helped me be more open-minded. I was also part of the Mechanical Engineering Society (MechSoc); we hosted careers events and almost managed to host the Summer Ball during the Covid year but it was eventually cancelled due to strengthening restrictions. I enjoyed playing for the Tennis Club socially and organised a mini-tournament for the non-team players. I also became a little better at preparing for speeches and presentation by joining the Public Speaking Society.

Advice from Ashley

“Get involved with one of the ‘hands-on’ engineering societies or activities as it helps you to think more practically and is really valued by employers. If you don't want to enter the mechanical engineering industry, then the data industry is a great option to utilise your analytical skills gained during your degree”