Meet CMP’s Lead Automation Engineer

Andrew Sambell joined British Engines Group company, CMP, in 2014, as an Apprentice Electrician. Today he is CMP’s Lead Automation Engineer, designing and building machines specifically for CMP.

We caught up with Andrew to hear about his journey to become a Lead Automation Engineer…

What is your job role?

I work in the automation engineering department which designs and builds bespoke, special purpose machines built specifically for CMP. As the Lead Automation Engineer, I work on the technical engineering aspect involving electrical design and software design for the machines. I am also responsible for project management, as well as providing an input into costings and proposals.

How long have you been in this role?

I’ve been in this role for about six months, but I started as an Apprentice Electrician in the maintenance department back in 2014. About two years in, I moved to be an Apprentice Controls Engineer in the automation engineering department focusing on electrical systems design. When I finished my apprenticeship, I was a Trainee Controls Engineer for two years, then I spent another three years as a Controls Engineer before taking on the extra responsibility of being a Lead Automation Engineer.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship?

I knew of the British Engines Apprenticeship+ Scheme and how well regarded it was, particularly in the North East. I had also read articles about other apprentices in companies within British Engines.


I knew of the British Engines Apprenticeship+ Scheme and how well regarded it was, particularly in the North East.

What inspired you to pursue this career path?

I really like tinkering with technology and exploring new technologies and I am very goal and outcome oriented. With this work I get to see the outcome of the hard work we put into projects as we’re completing them which I find really rewarding.

From a young age I’ve been around engineering and research and working at CMP has allowed me to explore that further. My dad, Dr Alistair Sambell, started his career as an electrical engineer. He was involved in research into semi-conductors for satellites and solar panels early in his career. He later moved on to work at Northumbria University and is now a professor at the University of Huddersfield.

Ron Dodd who has worked at the British Engines Group for over 70 years has been a big source of inspiration for me! He has had a big impact on apprenticeships in the North East and particularly British Engines as he pioneered the British Engines Apprenticeship+ Scheme. I had the opportunity to work with him on a project during Covid-19 to manufacture hand sanitiser units. Working with him was a really good experience as I got to witness how he interacted with people and his work ethic.

How has your job changed over time?

When I started in the maintenance department, my job involved fault finding on machinery. Once I got involved with the project work in the automation department, I realised that I really enjoyed it and where my passions lay.

Luckily, a vacancy came up in the automation department so I went from being completely shop floor based to having a 50/50 split, spending half of my time designing machinery and half building it.

And how has CMP changed?

When I first started, there were only two units but since then it’s grown very rapidly with the acquisition of a third unit. My department played a big role in managing the movement of machinery to the new unit. We designed and built a lot of the cleat machinery at Unit 1 as well.

There’s definitely a big focus on growth which has been great to see. A lot of new people have joined the business during my time and the company has invested heavily in automation for the future.

What opportunities has the British Engines Group provided you with to advance in your career?

The company has supported me to complete a BTEC, HNC and Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. I am now halfway through a Masters in Instrumentation and Control Engineering.

I have also developed professionally through the progression of my role, taking on additional responsibility, in particular the project management side and becoming more design focussed.

The company has supported me to complete a BTEC, HNC and Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. I am now halfway through a Masters in Instrumentation and Control Engineering.

What achievements in your career are you most proud of?

One project I am proud of is the hand sanitiser project where I was Lead Electrical Engineer. That was a particularly challenging project as we had to deliver so much in such a short period of time, but that’s what made it very rewarding in the end.

There was another project that I played a big part in delivering quite recently which involved the creation of our laser marking machinery in Unit 3. That was the most technically challenging project, from a project management point of view, and took just over a year to complete.

I’m also proud of achieving a first in my Electrical Engineering degree which has led me to do a Masters degree in Instrumentation and Control Engineering.

What are your interests outside of work?

I am into photography. I went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately it was cloudy the whole time! I also walk a lot as I have an ex racing greyhound called Orla. Taking her on walks at the beach and national trust sites keeps me busy. I have also played guitar for about 12 years but I’m only really able to play ‘Smoke on the Water’ as that was the first song I learned!

How do you think your colleagues would describe you?

I think many would say enthusiastic and determined. I always take a hands-on approach and just get stuck in with everything that I do. This has helped me in my more senior role as it’s more effective for me to be able to show people how to do certain things when mentoring them.

Thanks for speaking to us Andrew, we wish you all the best for your Masters degree!

Interested in an apprenticeship at the British Engines Group? Find out more about our award-winning apprenticeship scheme.