Matthew Tanswell, ARUP

We interviewed a few of our latest recruits who can give you an insight to their experiences of KTP thus far.

Matthew Tanswell studied at Queen’s University Belfast. After completing his degree in Environmental Planning he went onto study a MEng in Urban and Rural Design.

The support and belief afforded to me from my university lecturers played a fundamental role in my decision to continue at Queen’s University Belfast pursuing the KTP route.

Matthew is currently working for ARUP, a global independent firm of designers, planners, engineers and consultants, who through their collaborative approach and total design ethic, aim to make a positive difference in shaping a better world. Their work stretches across many different sectors such as master-planning, transportation and urban regeneration- to name but a few!

My passion for understanding and improving the urban environment in which we live, work and play as well as the importance of having a robust and innovative planning and design system to meet the social, environmental and economic needs of its citizens, have played a pivotal role in my degree progression and reasoning for choosing the KTP route.

Due to the dearth of urban design jobs in Northern Ireland and the scarcity of KTP’s in the planning field, Matthew felt it was the most efficient, swift and beneficial way to secure a full-time, degree-related job.

Matthew was first introduced to the KTP programme during his time at university. Initially it was not his preferred route as he intended to join an urban design company straight out of university. However, after examining the job market as a graduate, Matthew gained a new perspective on the situation. He realised that not only was the KTP beneficial for the selected company and university but also had extensive benefit for his development into professional practice with a reputable company.

Prior to commencing the role, Matthew said the application process was well-structured and straightforward. The first stage consisted of providing an initial application and a cover letter. If successful at this stage, you then had the opportunity to present how you would approach the KTP project to a company representative and the academic supervisor who you would be working alongside during your time as a KTP associate.

Currently, Matthew’s approach to the KTP project is multifaceted and his workload is highly diverse:

In terms of the company, he has been actively involved in the production of village plans for the Lisburn and Castlereagh district, the East Bank Framework and Arup’s report and workshops in collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities.

In terms of his project, Matthew is working on producing a resilience for planning and development model with the aim of providing a platform for cities and their urban planners to analyse vulnerabilities and their adaptive capacity to the shocks and stresses faced by cities in the 21st century. The goal is to produce an effective tool to measure the resiliency of plans and policies in order to enhance decision making in our global urban systems.

The KTP program allows you to gain experience and skills from leaders in your field of work. The program itself opens up a wealth of opportunities which would not be available in a typical graduate job. An example of this would be my attendance in the next few weeks at the Resilience Skills Network in London with Arup. This will be a fantastic opportunity to broaden my network and converse with highly regarded practitioners on the potential of building resiliency into the planning system, not just here in Northern Ireland, but in cities throughout the world.

Matthew said the last few months have been a steep learning curve both in terms of professional and personal development. Only recently graduating prior to commencing the KTP, Matthew did not have any practical experience of the planning system or urban resilience. As a result, he has had to work hard to build a baseline knowledge capacity on the subject of resilience while also prioritising time to get involved with the work and activities within the company.

Initially, it was difficult transitioning from university into a full time working environment, however with the right support received through the KTP program from his academic supervisors the transition has been made smoother. Although he is only a few months in, he hopes over the next two years he can bring a different perspective to the resilience movement while embedding new knowledge into the company.

I would recommend the KTP program to anyone who is interested in progressing their career within their chosen field at an advanced rate. Although there may be many options available to you, I would recommend giving strong consideration to a KTP. I think it is all about finding out what is best for you, your skill-set, and how you see your career progressing over the foreseeable future.

Hoda Beltagui, Quinn Building Products

We interviewed a few of latest recruits who can tell you something about their experiences so far.

Hoda has been a KTP Associate for the past six months at a Northern Ireland based company. She completed her MEng in Structural and Architectural Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. After her MEng she completed her PhD in Engineering at the University of Aberdeen.

Hoda is working for Quinn Building Products ( Her project involves finding suitable applications for various waste material streams from the production process, this is very important for the company; both from an environmental and economic point of view.

I chose the KTP route as it allows me to use the skills and knowledge I gained during my PhD in an industry setting, whilst also keeping in touch with the academic world.

For me; the main benefit of the KTP is being able to carry out practical research which you can then see going directly into application and becoming a reality. Another benefit is that the KTP structure encourages and provides opportunities for personal professional development. Having both an industry supervisor and academic supervisor provides you with guidance and knowledge from different expertise and perspectives.

Hoda has only been with this Quinn Building Products for six months and she has gotten involved in projects which have a high impact for the company, as well as producing results for research output. She has also had the opportunity to work with people at various levels within the company which has given her a holistic view and understanding of various aspects within industry.

I would definitely recommend a KTP job to others; especially to recent graduates and PhDs, as it provides a smooth transition between academia and industry.

Gavin Fenton, Intelligent Environments

We interviewed a few of our latest recruits who can tell you something about their experiences so far.

Gavin Fenton is one of our most recent KTP recruits, he completed his MEng in Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast. Gavin was looking for a job that focused on software development, machine learning and cyber security. After extensive research he came across a KTP job in Intelligent Environments, allowing him to put all his skills and interests to use.

Gavin is working for Intelligent Environments, an international provider of mobile and online solutions through their single software platform interact for financial service providers, such as; HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Toyota Financial Services and Vanquis.

Gavin is working on implementing machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence), in order to make the financial platform more resilient to attacks by modelling user behavior throughout the system and in doing so, detect hackers or other malicious users. The project will have a huge impact on the lives of people all over the world without them knowing as it will stop hackers from being able to steal their money or otherwise defraud them, a big concern as people place more and more trust in financial organisations. The project involves new ideas which require useful problem solving as it allows the associate to face new challenges willingly and without feeling like you’re out of your depth.

The major benefit is the focus on personal development, through both the time allowed for working on new skills and the resources given. There is no way I would have been able to develop my own skills and get the same level of experience in a generic graduate position. I have been able to get experience with cutting edge tools and technologies, had formal training in project management in a highly regarded management college and work on a truly meaningful project.

I have also put my budget to good use, signing up for a second degree part-time in Maths and Statistics which will allow me to improve my knowledge of machine learning, registering for professional conferences and paying for travel expenses and accommodation to visit my company’s headquarters in London.

Gavin has been working with Intelligence Environments for the last few months; gaining new skills and meeting targets. The work he has been doing is very interesting and he sees himself making a career out of it.

I would recommend the KTP program to anyone who wants to progress fast in their career as a KTP gives you the right level of challenge, responsibility, reward and room for personal development that you need to get ahead in any field.


David Joaquim, NC Engineering

We interviewed a few of our latest recruits who can tell you something about their experiences so far.

David Joaquim has been a KTP Associate for the past few months and he is working with a Belfast based company called NC Engineering, County Armagh. He completed his MEng Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast. After graduating in 2016 he chose to do a KTP project because of the development opportunities availble to him.

The KTP route offered a secure job for three years, during which time I would be able to improve all my skills and make me a more valuable employee. The KTP project also gives me a good amount of responsibility as I am accountable for the project and its budget. The well organised KTP structure has given me a smooth transition from university to full time work.

David works for . The company produces equipment and machinery for the agriculture and construction industries. David’s project is on developing a hybrid engine for site dumpers, the current site dumpers are powered by diesel engines but there is a need to meet emission regulations in the near future. The aim is to use an electric battery together with a small diesel engine to form a hybrid. David is constructing research on the varying hybrid technologies and looking into potential suppliers. He is also using specialised engine sofware to analyse the performance of the current engines and will be able to use this data to determine the requirements of the hybrid.

One of the major benefits of a ktp is the development opportunities over the course of the project. The project gives the associate the chance to work on interesting work, where their knowledge will be tested and the challenges will allow their skills to improve. Being in control of the project gives the KTP associate alot of responsibility which might not be available in a typical graduate job. The ability to access resources and information from both the company and the university is very beneficial, it allows the associate to experience different working environments and develop their network. Being given a budget is another benefit as it provides valuable experience working with finances and provides challenges regarding decision making on allocation of the budget. One of the benefits of my KTP is that I get the chance to travel to various countries to attend conferences and exhibitions. Finally, an excellent starting salary is always a positive on top of the experience and development opportunites. – I would recommend a KTP to anybody interested!

During the first few months David has gained more confidence in his abilities and started to complete different tasks and objectives. He has been able to experience different working environments, meet new people and work on an interesting project. He has been able to adjust to working life and had the opportunity to travel.


Damien Dupre, Sensum

We interviewed a few of latest recruits who can tell you something about their experiences so far.

Damien Dupré has been a KTP Associate with a Belfast based company called Sensum for the last six months ( .  He completed his PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Grenoble in Alpes, France and afterwards came to Queen’s University Belfast as a Visiting Researcher. It was his KTP Academic Supervisor who introduced and encouraged him to apply for the KTP project which is focused on analysis of emotional data streams.

It was exactly what I wanted to do – I submitted my application and here I am.  The team in Sensum develop software to analyse emotions and apply them in different contexts (consumer experience, viewer experience etc.). My role is to provide the psychological meaning for data collected from biometrics (heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature) from facial expressions

There are benefits when doing a KTP project as it takes the assets from both sides – the efficiency and application to the field from the company and the theories and methods from the academic perspective. Another big benefit to me is the budget for conferences, materials and personal development. I am attending four different conferences this year and my goal is to be an international expert in emotion analytics.

During the last six months, Damien has been working in the company with their software development team and so far, everything has gone according to plan.  After a brief induction period Damien has been able to get started on his project and is focused on his role as KTP Associate.  He’s also been involved with other company projects and is very happy with the way things are progressing.

 I would recommend a KTP project without hesitation.  A friendly and efficient collaboration between the university and the company will bring benefits to everyone involved

Duy Bui, Autoline Insurance Ltd

Leading a Data Revolution

Duy worked on a KTP between Autoline Insurance Ltd and Queen’s University Belfast using data analysis techniques to give motor insurance underwriters a clear driver risk profile.  His project began at a time when the insurance industry was undergoing a lot of changes and in 2012 Autoline was the first company in Europe to launch a smartphone app to measure driving behaviour.

Duy has an undergraduate degree in computer science and a Masters in business analytics from UCD. He was searching for a job working with data, found this job on the internet and was appointed as the KTP Associate. During the project Duy learned a lot about the latest data analytic techniques and worked with his academic supervisors to identify new ways to apply them to the business.  Autoline really benefitted from having Duy on the team because was very comfortable working with large amounts of data and he was able to put it all together like a jigsaw. Duy looked at the reporting needs of all the departments, figuring out smarter ways to pull KPI’s from the system.  Duy says

It’s been a big learning curve for me. I’ve been learning on the job but I’ve also had a lot of support from my academic supervisor at Queen’s, Professor Jun Hong. I can see a career path emerging from this. Telematics, which I’m implementing here, is a new and emerging technology and I can see a role as a data analyst in the insurance industry in the future.

Autoline’s Managing Director, Michael Hall said “There are very few people in the telematics market who would know how to run a driver profiler because it’s so new and there will undoubtedly be a demand for people with that skillset, who can answer the question – how do we manage all this data and ultimately translate it into pricing decisions? It needs someone like Duy, with that specialist knowledge, in the middle of the process to make it actually happen.”

Like the sound of KTP?  Click here to view our latest vacancies.

Agnieszka Czerwiec, Cirdan Imaging Ltd

Speeding up Cancer Diagnosis

Agnieszka worked on a KTP with Cirdan Imaging and Queen’s University Belfast to develop advanced imaging systems that will differentiate between normal and abnormal cells.

Cirdan was set up in 2010, by Hugh Cormican, one of the founders of Andor Technology and his experience there highlighted that pathology is about imaging but historically they don’t take pictures. Clinicians look at the tissue and describe what they see, but I realised that if we developed the company to capture those images as a first stage then in the future we could provide more analysis to enhance and accelerate the speed of diagnosis.

Agnieszka joined the KTP after completing a PhD on Raman spectroscopy and imaging systems.  She also has a Masters degree in biology from Poland and so was a very good fit for the project.  Once the project started, Agnieszka realised that there was a lot of support available from her supervisor in Queen’s, Dr John Nelson.  He had a lot of ideas of how imaging could be used to help the diagnosis of normal tissue and understood how the latest techniques could be applied in Cirdan.  Agnieszka says

 The problem we’re trying to solve is very challenging and we have to look at it from different angles at the same time. I’ve been given a unique opportunity to work on something of enormous interest to me. Working with John and Hugh is an honour – John for his research and Hugh because he is such a successful businessman. I have deep respect for both of them.

Cirdan can now compare normal and abnormal tissue very effectively but now need to build on that to be able to take hard measurements. After that it is hoped that the technology can be developed into a medical device.

Feeling inspired to work on your own KTP?
Click here to see the latest vacancies in Northern Ireland.

David Jones, Kestrel Foods Ltd

A New Venture takes Wing

The KTP between Kestrel Foods Ltd and a combined academic team from Queen’s University Belfast and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) recruited David Jones as the KTP Associate.  The company created the Forest Feast snack food brand in 1996, and has been importing natural fruit and nut products from all over the world for mixing and packing.

As time went on, their customers asked more often for processed products like salted peanuts, roasted salted cashews, honey roast and glazed products so it made sense for Kestrel to see if there was viability in putting together their own roasting plant.

David saw the KTP Associate job in an online advert, and immediately felt that it was a good fit for him.  He says

Food KTPs are quite rare but my background has always been food, through the family firm, Welsh Lady Preserves, which makes jams and chutneys. My grandfather started showing me how the business worked when I was four and later my father relied on me to bring on new products every year. I went to the University of South Wales and got a biology degree which had a strong element of food science and technology but I already had knowledge about flavours so I’m bringing my life experience as well as my academic experience to this role.

David works closely with the production team and since he arrived at the end of 2014 he opened up their thinking about their capabilities. Kestrel has now moved from packing and mixing to processing and manufacturing and there is a lot more technical experience in the company.  David’s work brought new learning to the company and although they had invested in a roasting machine they soon realised that it was the other aspects, flavouring and coating and the science behind it that they needed to know about.

It’s been a steep learning curve for everyone, including David who has put new systems in place, developed new processes and trained company staff.  The next part of David’s journey will be to identify new opportunities such as chocolate and yoghurt coatings, and to look at new ways to use our equipment for example, brining, roasting and salting pistachios.  David says

I don’t have any experience of those things at the moment but I’m delighted that the company thinks I’m capable of doing it! As for the future, I really want to be involved in research and development. It’s really exciting to see new products go from a prototype to being on the shelves and I’d love to be a part of that.

If you like the sound of a KTP job, why not apply now?
Click here to view our latest vacancies.

Edward Fitzpatrick, MJM Marine Ltd

Edward Fitzpatrick was a KTP Associate with MJM Marine Ltd based in Newry, an international specialist in new build, refurbishment and fit-out services to the marine, commercial and private sectors. Since finishing his KTP, Edward has taken on the role of R&D Manager in MJM.

Ulster University and MJM collaborated in a two year KTP project to research/develop new advanced materials for maritime applications.  This Partnership exceeded their expectations and all objectives of the project were met with a roll out of new materials and processes on a full scale, resulting in cost savings and efficiencies for the company.

The project produced not only exceeded the desired results for the company and academics, but also those set out for Edward’s personal development. The expertise provided by the University and the academic team provided a framework for Edward to  succeed in a high pressure commercial environment. During his project Edward was also named as one of Innovate UK’s prestigious Business Leader of the Future Award.  Delighted with his project and award, Edward said:

“The KTP structure, with its challenging objectives, bestows responsibility that would not be offered from other associate schemes. To have been given the opportunity to deliver a project that influences long-term strategy of an organisation and to have been given a platform to launch a career with exciting prospects is unparalleled. The support offered by our academic partners and Ulster University’s Research and Innovation team throughout were exceptional.”

Based on how the innovations had impacted the business, within 12 months of the project starting, the Chairman of MJM Group, offered Edward the position of R&D Manager.  Edward commenced his new management role after completing the project.

Edward also undertook an MSc in Advanced Polymers and Composites at Ulster University.

If you’re feeling inspired by Edward’s story, why not apply for your own KTP?
View our latest vacancies here!

Barry Lynam, Smiths Engineering Ltd

Opening a Door to Innovation

The KTP between Smiths Engineering and Queen’s University Belfast has enabled the company to develop, design, testing and manufacturing skills to open new markets.  Smiths began as a family firm, run with a family ethos, and that’s still what we are. In the early days the company was primarily involved with the automotive industry but through the years they have grown into other sectors and now have five divisions.

Barry Lynam studied for a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and he joined the KTP programme just after graduation in 2014.  He had heard about KTP from his lecturers and was keen to find a project that suited him and his skills.   The KTP has allowed Smiths Engineering to put a lot more focus on their processes and Barry has been instrumental in managing a programme of change to deliver increased precision, cost and quality. The programme has exceeded his expectations.   Barry says

One of the big things is seeing first hand how industry works. I had the theoretical knowledge from my degree but to apply that, to extend my understanding in practical terms – I’ve been doing that from day one.  There are competitors out there and the thing that helps us stand apart is the quality of our product and my role is to keep it that way.  I highly recommend KTP to other graduates – it offers an opportunity to develop yourself at a very early stage in your career.

The company’s Managing Director, Darwin Smith took a long view for the KTP programme

The plan always was to have someone who would come on board and stay. Barry brought another way of looking at things. He even put together an electronic sales order system which has made things more efficient an activity that was never on the original plan. He’s also developing his leadership skills, how to interact with the team. You don’t get that in a lecture theatre. So we’re learning together. It’s a great relationship.

If you would like to explore the opportunities currently available click here.