Although mostly recognised as winner of The Great British Bake Off 2018, Dr Rahul Mandal is an engineer. He works in nuclear research, checking that all the parts are safe and providing clean energy.
Why did you first become interested in engineering?
From quite an early age, I was interested in finding out why and how everything works around me. I have to thank my parents for tolerating the huge amount of questions I asked growing up.
In a way, the science behind baking and cooking also drew me to that. I was astonished by how you can take the same ingredients but with different proportions, and create a completely new dish.
How did you get to where you are now?
My undergraduate degree was in electronics and communication engineering.
I now work at a nuclear centre and my research mostly involves investigating the cleanliness of nuclear components to check for any contamination or flaw that could lead to failure. I’m developing new techniques in automating the inspection process. Working in the nuclear industry is very interesting, because I know that my work will help deliver safe, low-carbon energy for decades to come. I am really proud to be a part of it.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I have to say that completing my PhD was definitely the biggest achievement, but participating in The Great British Bake Off is something that I will always remember. It was a journey that made me learn a lot more about myself.
I always say that baking is a science. It shows how simple ingredients such as flour, water, salt, and yeast can transform into one of humankind’s staple foods. With the addition of sugar, butter and eggs, you can make the world’s favourite sweet treats. Changing the proportion of the ingredients will make the most varied form of pastries. People will say it’s magic – I would say it is pure science.
What is your favourite thing about being an engineer?
The best thing about engineering is that I can find out and understand how something works. I can design things that will solve a problem, and work on improving them until they work in just the way I want.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
One day, I might be setting up laser experiments in the laboratory, the next I’ll be using digital cameras to create a 3D image of a piece that’s just come off one of our giant machine tools.
However, during the weekend, I’m busy planning my new bakes and probably experimenting with new flavour combinations.
What would be your advice to young people looking to pursue a career in engineering?
Enjoy your subject, love your job and never stop questioning. When you work in engineering, you have to think ahead. You have to think about the issues that might arise, and then try to deal with them.