My Saltire journey and all lessons learnt

My name is Edmund Abekhe and I have just graduated from the University of the West of Scotland with a 1st class in BEng Mechanical Engineering. I am currently preparing to start my master’s at the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in Robotics Engineering.

My road to obtaining this internship has been an interesting one to say the least! I had applied and gotten through the interview stages of the Saltire internship and was making applications to all the host companies. However due to COVID-19, the programme had to be closed for the year. It was disappointing having put the effort to get through the interview stages, however the Saltire team was extremely helpful, and they kept encouraging us and gave us news that those who had applied last year could still apply again this year even though I was in my final year!

Having experience from the previous year, I was able to put forward a very confident and strong application and thus began my applications to the host companies. With continuous encouragement and advice from the Saltire team, I was able to obtain myself an internship with Coherent Inc.

My internship experience at Coherent Inc

My time at Coherent Inc was without a doubt an amazing and extremely fantastic period. I was introduced to the 6S team and my line manager Garry Murrie, whom I would spend all my time working with, and I was accepted into the group extremely quickly.

I began by learning all that the 6S team had been doing in the company, an example is the streamlining of various workstations to make sure that each station was neat and tidy to allow for more space. With my role as an optimisation Intern, I was tasked with helping the team and bringing froward ideas that could help in making the R&D department more efficient.

I was given a blank book in terms of what I could do within the department, due to this I made it my goal to make my time there as impactful as possible and worked on various projects during my time there. They varied from designing a labelling station, to drafting up a plan for Bluetooth scanning devices.

An example of a project I worked on was the idea of a storage room tracker and a floor plan of the storage room. The tracker was an idea to allow for the ability to keep track of the various equipment in the storage room; the use of barcodes on the larger equipment and a stationary scanner by the door was an idea thrown out and something that might be implemented soon. The floor plan was to allow for people to easily know where various items were located within the storage room to save time from having to look for them personally.

Something I found interesting was although, this wasn’t directly related to my field, I had a lot of transferable skills from extracurricular activities and other aspects of my life that I could bring to the workplace which really aided me in completing my projects.

Another thing was the openness shown to me, for the company to allow me to work from USA while I was out there!

It was an interesting experience and very novel to say the least! It was not as comfortable as my set up I had at home however it was still fun, however waking up at 3am for work was not fun might I add!

My time at Coherent, allowed me to grow in confidence, boost my networking skills and grant me insight into what it is like working in industry.


Looking back on my experience at Coherent Inc, my time there was very special, and the team made me feel a real part of the family. I was able to joke around with them while ensuring the job was still accomplished. My biggest takeaway from this experience is how important it is to have a positive company culture and environment because without it, the work becomes more tedious and the likelihood of being able to work with others is limited. I am extremely happy at the environment that Coherent presented and I know without a doubt that when I begin looking for graduate jobs in the future, I will use the company ethos of Coherent Inc as my reference!

Some thoughts I would like to share with you from my experience:

  • Never be afraid to be bad at something new to you! It is part of the learning process; never give up and persevere. Resilience is a very important skill to hone and will go a long way
  • Asking for help is not seen as a weakness but as a strength; never be afraid to ask others when you don’t understand something
  • Voicing your opinions is an important aspect of working in industry, even if you are shy and not able to speak up at the time, ensuring that you pass on your opinion to someone who can then tell other is important. Your opinion could be the difference!
  • Having self-doubt is a part of all of us! However always remember that you earned this opportunity through hard work and you deserve it!

Having worked in industry has opened my eyes to more possibilities that I had never thought of and would encourage others who are looking to apply next year to take advantage and make sure to tell your friends as well! This sort of experience can be said to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would be over the moon if my experience can encourage someone to take that step and become a Saltire Scholar as well! I would like to thank both the Saltire team and Coherent for giving such an invaluable experience!

Written by: Edmund Abekhe, University of the West of Scotland , Optimisation Intern, Coherent Inc. Scotland (virtual)
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