Adrian Matthys, aged 22, is an automation engineer at Actemium Switzerland. Having won the bronze medal in the international WorldSkills Competition, he is pursuing his career with the full support of his managers and is becoming a coach himself.
As a child, he dreamed of becoming a border guard. But at the age of 12, Adrian Matthys discovered computing. This passion would never leave him. And a few years later, he decided to make it his career, at a trade fair where he discovered the world of automation, robots and intelligent machines.
“I immediately loved this world and the job of automation engineer in particular, which combines office work, where you do the programming, with field work when you implement the systems you’ve designed”, explains the young Swiss engineer, as he studies for his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at FHNW (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland) while also working as an automation engineer at Actemium Schweiz AG in Arlesheim, the suburb of Basel where he spends 60% of his time.
Not long after Adrian discovered mechatronics, periods of job shadowing (including at CFC Feldschlösschen and ETAVIS / Actemium) made up his mind. “The great welcome they gave me at Actemium, where I was able to do some basic programming straight away that showed me the reality and interest of this job, convinced me to join VINCI Energies for my work-study placement”, says Adrian Matthys.
“I really appreciate the way the managers take an interest in young people’s training”
He thoroughly appreciates the variety of tasks involved in the automation engineer’s role: “It’s a mix. You need foundations in electronics, mechanical engineering and information technologies, but above all, the ability to learn constantly in each of them to make successful progress in your day-to-day work. It’s an exciting challenge to acquire the new skills to find solutions for the project you’re working on”.
Perseverance above all
For Adrian Matthys, the main qualities of an automation engineer are “having a logical and analytical mind, an instinct for everything technology-related, and above all, perseverance”. He sees this every day in the two projects currently occupying him: writing a program library and designing a POC (proof of concept) for an automation system based on MTP (module type package), a standardised framework to allow interoperability between any module and any orchestration system.
“On new projects like this, you constantly have to check where problems are coming from, analyse them and resolve them, so that the program, and in this specific case, the system’s visual interface for operators, works correctly”.
Adrian Matthys had the opportunity to develop and demonstrate these qualities when he participated in the WorldSkills Competition 2022, the professional skills world championship for talented young people. In a duo with another apprentice from PB Swiss Tools, Adrian won gold at SwissSkills 2020, the national competition for apprentices, and the bronze medal in the mechatronics category at WorldSkills in October 2022. “Over four days, you have to design, build, program and make operational a mini production system. It’s difficult but great training. You learn to never give up and to stay focused on your objective”.
Confidence and responsibility
To reach that stage, Adrian Matthys benefited from material and psychological support from Actemium during his preparations. “I really appreciate the way the managers at VINCI Energies, and at the highest level, take an interest in young people’s training. There is also a strong focus on employees’ needs and expectations in terms of working conditions and professional development”. Among the values promoted by VINCI Energies, confidence and taking responsibility are definitely those that Adrian Matthys displays.
As for his future, when he completes his Bachelor’s degree in three-and-a-half years, the young automation engineer sees himself abroad. “VINCI Energies’ international network offers a lot of possibilities. I would also like to devote part of my time to teaching. I’m already coaching an Actemium apprentice who is preparing for the WorldSkills Competition next September”.
This interest Adrian Matthys has in knowledge transfer is no doubt due to the Scouting activities he has been involved in since he was 11. “It’s something very important to me. In Scouts, you learn responsibility, sharing, and the ability to plan activities. It’s also a breath of fresh air: spending time in the woods with friends is a break from my work, which is very demanding”.
Photo credit: ©ThibaultDesplats