#FutureInYourHands – This motto properly describes how TÜV SÜD empowers its employees. It’s best to hear from TÜV SÜD executives and staff members what their personal experiences are working for TÜV SÜD.
Can you describe your role within the company?
I’m the Senior Project Engineer working out of our Alpharetta office and lab. I’m the only Electrical Engineer at this location that is part of the ELS product safety group. This group evaluates electrical and lighting products to standards and requirements to ensure safety for the customer. We test to a variety of different standards, including National Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) standards for North America, CB Scheme standards, which are international, as well as SCC standards for Canada.
In this role I also work extensively with customers to discuss their products and needs. While I work for TÜV SÜD, my true boss are the customers. Sometimes we work crazy hours to get projects completed, but it’s because we know we can provide value and safety to our customers- and that really sets our company apart from competitors.
Can you explain some testing requirements for NRTL?
The core of NRTL and other standards is the ensure that end-users of a product are safe. With lighting equipment, for example, we need to test to make sure that when these products are used there are no fires or electrical hazards. We want to ensure that if someone uses a product there is no damage to the property, but more importantly- no danger to health and safety. We test to ensure that every electrical hazard is isolated from the user. Cables for example- we test to ensure that if someone pulls the cable or pushes it- it won’t disconnect from equipment and become a hazard. We also test to ensure that if a product is in use for many hours it won’t burn and cause further damage.
The tests depend on the standard, but in the end all standards ensure the same results- safety and integrity. This is truly humbling work for an engineer and extremely fulfilling to know that you’re helping to keep people safe. In all of my experience, TÜV SÜD is the most trustworthy certification company I’ve known. We don’t cut corners and we’re transparent with our customers. We also try to remove any negative stress to ensure that our personnel can focus on what matters- integrity and helping clients.
What do you enjoy most about your job and/or engineering in particular?
One of the things I really enjoy is my ELS product safety group. We have fantastic communication and collaboration between our labs. While I’m the only Electrical Engineer at the Alpharetta lab, I’m never alone. I can contact my colleagues in labs across the country and get an answer. It’s an extremely helpful system and is a great company culture.
With this type of testing you also feel extremely proud and fulfilled when you see a product you tested out on the market, or in a store. Sometimes I’m out with my children and see a piece of lighting technology, and I get to tell them that I tested that and helped make users safe. It’s a beautiful feeling.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced during your career that have taught you important lessons?
I think the biggest challenge for me was when I started out in this field. I didn’t know anything- I didn’t even know there was a market for this type of business. Thankfully, I worked for managers that had 30 years of experience in this industry and I had a desire to learn from them. They embraced my interest and spent a lot of time providing training and lessons on every area of this industry and the tests. It was a lot of work, and I worked hard- you have to learn how to do the different tests, how to talk to customers and convey what they want to hear. But during this process I fell in love with the business.
What do you think this industry will look like 20 years from now? How will it change?
I foresee challenges in the future, mainly because technology changes so quickly. This is especially true in the ELS product safety industry- there are new products and technology being developed every day. In most cases, regulatory standards are only released or updated every couple of years, and they can’t keep up with the growing rate of technology. Sometimes customers come to us with technology that is not even addressed in the standards, so we need to work even harder to bring a solution to the customer. They still need safe products. I see the need for standards to be updated with more frequency as our technology continues to evolve at such a fast rate.
What advice do you have for young people considering entering this field?
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you love what you do. Give your training a year and if you don’t love this field, then don’t do it and find another passion. In this industry we’re playing with people’s lives. If we don’t test products correctly, we put our customers and the public in danger. This is a fantastic industry- it’s exciting, innovative and you meet dedicated coworkers and customers. Also, do not be afraid to jump into field work, as this is the best teacher.
When not working, how do you spend your spare time?
Spending time with my family is my greatest hobby and joy.
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