Graduate interview: Dylan Dawson, Computer Scientist at Jacobs Middle East

Dylan Dawson

‘Go to networking events and discipline specific events. Learning the market and befriending the people involved in the market opens so many doors’

Dylan Dawson, Computer Scientist at Jacobs Middle East, graduated from his BSc Computer Science (Networks) degree in 2019. We caught up with Dylan, who talked to us about his varied role at Jacobs, his time at Kent, and his advice for students looking to get into the industry.

How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for working in the industry?
Year 3 was the best year for preparation with work specifically the end of year project. Working in a team, balancing resourcing, time, and functionality as well as implementing existing technologies. My team did a cyber security focused project and learning about everything we could do to secure a product and server helped me jump into the industry with the experience I gained.

What did you learn in your degree that has been beneficial to you in your role?
So, a key part of my role is introducing the world of engineering to the world of computing so literally every module I took during my degree including the basic mathematics and law and ethics has been used in some way, shape or form. The one that surprised me the most was how much I had to use HCI (human computer interaction) I had to reread and relearn all of the slides from that module because of how useful it became.

What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
They change depending on project and task. I am the owner of multiple digitalisation products, so I become a minor project manager which comes with a wild list of responsibilities, including: leadership (managing the conflicting requests from various team members and making the final decision), configuration (project start up, dashboard setup, etc), training (for example, showing clients how to use the dashboard and Debugging (providing Live Support for sites). I also work on automation; I work as a lead developer to streamline workflows and BIM (building information modelling) Coordinator under a project manager, as well as strategic consulting; my responsibility within this group is guidance and consulting for internal teams and external clients.

Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share?
The list would be endless! In the UAE: State of environment report for the UAE (Data analytics and visualiations), Digitization of construction supervision, Delivery 4.0 (changing how the company delivery projects with digital in mind). In Saudi Arabia: Red Sea, Wadi Safar, Neom, The Vault. On this list of Jacobs projects, if it’s in the middle east and has anything digital I was involved at some stage.

What are your plans for the future?
I intend to stay in the middle east for the foreseeable future. The projects here are massive and fun to work on.
Building a development team and OT/IT cyber security team in the middle east. Our capabilities for both are massive in the US and UK markets so I’m working on leveraging that capability to train teams and win work in the middle east.
Delivery 4.0: Changing the way we delivery projects from a traditional waterfall methodology to a more agile and lean methodology.
I’m about to start my CISSP Certification, I already have CyberX and Certified Ethical Hacker(CEH) Certifications and have been given a letter of recommendation to start CISSP.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same career path?
Getting a job as a computer science graduate should be relatively easy, we are in a market right now where we are the most in demand assets. I’m now going to say the same thing every career guidance councillor will say: Go to networking events and discipline specific events. Learning the market and befriending the people involved in the market opens so many doors. Continue to learn: every year a new technology or faster way of doing things is introduced. So stay on top of the latest studies and make sure you are completing your work as efficiently as possible. And the number one rule for working with any client is not about saving them money or doing things fast. Its about keeping them happy. If they want to do something slower, try to educate them and if they still don’t listen don’t get too attached to your own ideas.

The hardest part about our jobs is changing hearts and minds. We can explain time and time again why data and digitisation are useful and profitable. The biggest piece of advice I got during my first year was to slow down and bring everyone else along with me.

What was your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
Related to degree: using a 3d printer for the first time (I know own 3, 2 PLA and one resin)
Unrelated to degree: setting off fireworks on bonfire night.