Full speed ahead towards the future
Three apprentices, one goal: laying the foundation for a tech career at Polycontact. Design engineer Edgar Weiss, polymechanic Sohrab Sadery and IT specialist Vanessa Caspar talk about their experiences at the Chur-based technology company. They’ve also told us about life outside of work, from driving lessons to anime video games.
“Before Polycontact, cars were just things that took me from A to B.”
When it was time for Edgar to pick an apprenticeship, he sought advice from the education information centre. Their recommendation: design engineering. “You’ve got to be creative and come up with workable solutions fairly quickly. That does fit my personality well.” The Berlin native then turned to Polycontact, a manufacturer of sensors and switch technologies and the only provider of an apprenticeship in design engineering in Chur. “Before Polycontact, cars were just things that took me from A to B. Now, when I operate a car during my driving lessons, I know that I am sitting on top of a system that my instructor helped to create. That’s quite impressive.”
At Polycontact, the eighteen-year-old learns skills that go far beyond the basics, such as quality management and microscope analyses. “It’s a lot more challenging than sticking to the curriculum, but it’s a lot better, too.” At the start of each week, Edgar receives his projects. He spends the following few days making drawings, running experiments, planning parts and coordinating with the polymechanics who will ultimately turn his plans into finished parts. Next year, Edgar will be travelling to a faraway workshop: in their final year of training, all apprentices get to visit the Polycontact branch in Sibiu, Romania. Edgar will spend four weeks there, working as a design engineer. “I’m very excited about the trip. We’re even given our own car and a flat. Above all, I’m interested in how the design engineers over there work and what I can learn from them.”
Training and fun – all in one
Sohrab Sadery will have to wait a while before he can travel to Sibiu. He’s still in the first year of his polymechanics apprenticeship. Up until three years ago, he lived in Iran. “I came to Switzerland at the age of 17, spent two years learning the language and then finished year ten at high school. My best friend told me about polymechanics as a profession.” Today, his life is all about drawing, milling, turning and programming. No one day is like another. “That’s a good thing. I’m here because I’m creative and want to work on unique parts rather than producing serial parts like other polymechanics in other places do.”
What does a polymechanic need to know and do? “As a polymechanic, you need to be precise, have a knack for maths and be able to approach a problem from multiple perspectives. Communication is secondary,” laughs Sohrab. For the 21-year-old, a bit of silliness is an important part of his daily work. “Training and fun blend into each other. This goes for technical questions as well as the jokes we exchange over lunch.” After work, Sohrab and his brother like to venture out into nature. Relaxation is very important to him. “I’m a lot happier here than I would be in a city, surrounded by busy people. The people of Chur are chilled out and down to earth.”
Fending off cyber attacks in the morning, taming dragons in the afternoon
Do you have to be a natural-born PC nerd to work in IT? Second-year IT trainee Vanessa Caspar doesn’t think so. “You do need some basic knowledge of how computers and networks function. But I didn’t know a great deal about it before I started, either. You learn most of it at school and at work.” When she was at high school, her teacher recommended a career in IT. “I came across Polycontact during my online research, and when I did some trial days at the company, I loved the team spirit and got on extremely well with my mentor.” The 18-year-old enjoys the freedom she has here. “Independence is central to our work.”
In addition to the trust afforded to her, she also appreciates her four-and-a-half-day work week. On Friday afternoon, when her friends are still in their offices, Vanessa and her Polycontact colleagues are already enjoying the weekend. “As soon as I’m home, I turn on my PC and play Genshin Impact, a fantasy action roleplaying game, with my friends.” Vanessa is especially looking forward to deepening her knowledge in the fields of cybersecurity and spam during her remaining time at Polycontact. She will, for example, learn how to prevent attacks before they occur. Next year, she will be put in charge of that field. “We started a new project and changed our anti-malware software last year. I will be overseeing the training for the entire team,” explains Vanessa proudly.
From budding design engineers to future polymechanics and trainee IT specialists, Polycontact motivates young adults to take charge of their own future. They all have ambitious goals. Sohrab wants to be an engineer, Vanessa will be researching the latest strategies in cybersecurity soon, and Edgar plans to study industrial design and take our world into a technically and aesthetically advanced future.