Tony Hutchings is one of our longest serving Members, having joined in 1963. He talks us through being a Member, why he chose a career in engineering, and what have been his experiences thus far working in the industry.
My career started in the shipbuilding and repair industry as an apprentice for Harland and Wolff in London. Prior to this, I passed exams to Bridgewater Art and Technical School when I was 11. This then led onto me starting as a design engineer, then pursuing project engineering and management.
After this, I worked in the petroleum refining and chemical industry, and moved onto the offshore oil and gas industry in the UK and overseas. Throughout my career, I have worked for BP, Shell, Fluor Engineering and Bechtel as my main employers; whilst also, engineering enabling me to travel around the world working in Iran, Brunei, Qatar, Aberdeen and London.
Why did you choose a career in engineering?
Engineering chose me as I went to a technical school quite early.
When did you join The Welding Institute?
I joined The Welding Institute approximately in the sixties after becoming a Member of IMechE for chartered status.
What have been some of your core involvements with The Welding Institute?
Some of the work I have been involved in includes welding high tensile pressure vessels, which was causing problems, this initially got me interested in welding and metallurgy.
As one of The Welding Institute’s longest serving Members, what are one or two of your fondest memories from being a Member?
One of my fondest memories has been the study of welding and metallurgy as subjects for my Graduate membership of the IMechE via HNC and endorsements.
What advice would you give to your younger self, beginning your career in engineering?
I would advise to be more confident in your abilities as proven.
With our recent explorations of the origins of The Welding Institute delving into the inaugural meeting and our past Presidents, we wanted to take the opportunity to outline and recognise our founding Members and the pivotal roles they played in the first decade of the Institute’s journey.
Unearthing our first ever annual report from 1924 allows us to learn a bit more about how we came to be and those responsible within those early and crucial years. The first annual report outlines the following founding Members:
Sir W. Peter Rylands, J.P.
Sir Robert A. Hadfield, Bart,. F.R.S., J.P., etc.
Prof. F. C. Thompson, B.Sc. (London), D.Met. (Sheffield), Professor of Metallurgy at Manchester University
Charles Bingham, C.E.
W. R. J. Britten
E. A. Atkins, A.M.I.Mech.E.
Herman G. Dixon, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E., M.I.N.A., M.I.E.I
L. M. Fox, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E.
A. L. Haggerty
A. Edgar Knowles
T. Vincent Lane
Capt. D. Richardson, R.A.F., Wh. Exh. A.M.I.Mech.E.
Lewis J. Yeoman, F.C.A.
The majority of our founding Members went on the serve as President of the Institution and their contributions and involvements also stemmed further to involve Vice-Chair, honorary roles, Chairing Committees, and more.
Take a look back at what roles our founding Members played in the early years of the Institute:
Serving as the first President of The Institution of Welding Engineers from 1923 to 1925, the 1st annual report outlined that the Council invited Sir W. Peter Rylands, J.P. to accept the office of first President of the Institution and, “desire to express their indebtedness to him accepting this office in spite of the very many calls upon his time, and for the very great interest that he has shown during his office.” The following annual reports highlighted that Sir W. Peter Rylands, J.P. remained a Member of Council after his presidency, taking on roles including Vice-Chairman, North Western Branch Chair and later Vice-Chair and additionally being recognised as a ‘Special Member.’
Sir Robert A. Hadfield, Bart,. F.R.S., J.P.
Whilst Sir Robert A. Hadfield, Bart,. F.R.S., J.P., did not go on to ever serve as President, he undertook the role of Vice-President for five years between 1923 to 1928, being initially recognised as a ‘Special Member’ in 1924 and later appointed as an ‘Honorary Member’ in 1932.
Beginning his role as a founding Member on Council as Vice-Chair between 1923 and 1926, Prof. F. C. Thompson, B.Sc. (London), D.Met. (Sheffield), Professor of Metallurgy at Manchester University, went on to serve as President from 1926 to 1928. His two year-long term was joint first, with Sir W. Peter Rylands, J.P., in being the longest time served as President out of the founding Members, with the 5th annual report outlining that, “at the Annual General Meeting held 22nd June, 1927, Prof. F. C. Thompson, B.Sc. (London), D.Met. (Sheffield), Professor of Metallurgy at Manchester University, at the unanimous wish of the Council, consented to remain as President of the Institution for the following year.”
Charles Bingham, C.E. was a Professor of Metallurgy at Manchester University and initially served as a Vice-President for the Institutions’ first two years and was named as a ‘Special Member.’ The 3rd annual report then outlines that, “at the second annual general meeting, in May of last year, Mr. Charles Bingham, C.E. was elected President of the Institution, in succession of Sir W. Peter Rylands, J.P. Although an exceedingly busy man, Mr. Bingham accepted the office, and the Institution was already making good headway under his guidance.” After serving as President, Charles Bingham, C.E remained a Member of Council and later returned to his initial role as a Vice-President from 1930 until 1933 when, “during the year under review, Mr. C. H. Bingham resigned from the Council, and the Council wishes to place on record its thanks for the services rendered by Mr. Bingham in the past.”
Acting as Honorary Treasurer from the Institute’s origin in 1923 to 1931, W. R. J. Britten stepped down from Honorary Treasurer to become President from 1931 to 1932. After serving as President, W. R. J. Britten was elected again as Honorary Treasurer, making him the Honorary Treasurer of the entire first decade of the Institute’s history, excluding his one year serving as President. W. R. J. Britten’s role on Council also extended further, with him additionally sitting on different Council Committees including the Consultative and Papers Committees.
Sitting on Council as a founding Member, E. A. Atkins, A.M.I.Mech.E went on to undertake the role of Vice-President in 1930 and later served as President from 1933 to 1934. E. A. Atkins, A.M.I.Mech.E’s played an important role in developing and building the Institution’s reputation and name by making use of his industrial experience through his attendance, as a representative of the Institute of Welding Engineers, of the 8th International Congress of Acetylene, Autogenous Welding, and Allied Industries held in Paris in 1923. In the years following his presidency, E. A. Atkins, A.M.I.Mech.E continued to contribute to the Institute by sitting on both the British Standards Institution Welded Steel Air Receivers Specification Committee and the Internal Committee for Examination of Welders: City and Guilds, of London Institute.
Initially sitting on Council as a founding Member, Herman G. Dixon, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E., M.I.N.A., M.I.E.I next took on the role of Vice-President in 1925 and he carried out this role for 3 years until 1928. It was then sadly reported in the 10th annual report (1932-1933) that, “the Council records with regret the death of Mr. H. G. Dixon on 17th August, 1932. He was one of the Founders of the Institution and from 1925 to 1928 one of its Vice-Presidents.”
L. M. Fox, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E. sat as a Founding Member of Council from 1923 to 1929 with the 7th annual report outlining that, “at a meeting of the Council held on the 11th of July, 1929, L.M. Fox was elected additional Vice-President of the Institution.” The following years’ annual report then stated that, “at the seventh Annual General Meeting, held 29th May, 1930, Mr. L. M. Fox, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E., one of the founders of the Institution, was elected President for the year 1930-31.” Within L. M. Fox, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E.’s Presidency, the 8th annual report also highlighted the important work he carried out, at the invitation of the British Engineering Standards Association, representing the Institution on the B.E.S.A. Committee, “for the purpose of preparing standard specifications for Oxy-Acetylene and Electric Welding.” L. M. Fox, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Mar.E. was later elected as an ‘Honorary Member’ in 1932 in recognition of his contribution to the Institution.
Beginning as a founding Member of Council and being listed as a ‘Special Member,’ A. L. Haggerty later became a Vice-President in 1928 until 1929 when it was reported in the 7th annual report that, “at the sixth Annual General Meeting held on the 12th June, 1929, Mr. A. L. Haggerty, one the of the Founders of the Institution, was elected President for the year 1929-30.” After serving as President, A. L. Haggerty continued actively within his role on Council, including sitting on multiple committees such as the 1932 Prize Competition Committee, Papers Committee and Internal Committee for Examination of Welders: City and Guilds of London Institute Committee.
Whilst a founding Member of the Institution, A. Edgar Knowles did not continue his role on Council after 1924. He did, however, remain an active Member of the Institution sharing his technical knowledge and insight with the Institution’s network of engineering personnel, demonstrated by the 3rd annual report outlining that, “the 10th Ordinary Meeting of the Institution was held at Caxton Hall on 12th November, 1925, Mr. A. Edgar Knowles, one the of the founders of the Institution, read a paper on the “Manufacture of Oxygen with Special Reference to its Product Electrolytically.”” He continued to deliver this talk throughout the following years at various ‘Ordinary Meetings’ across the country.
T. Vincent Lane was listed as a founding Member and Member of Council between the Institution’s year of establishment in 1923 and 1925, however, after being left off of the 3rd annual report from 1925-26, he reappears in the 1927 4th annual report, which later outlines that T. Vincent Lane was one of three people co-opted to Council in the Annual General Meeting of that year. T. Vincent Lane later went on to serve as Honorary Treasurer between 1931 and 1932.
Named as a ‘Special Member’ of the Institution, C. Raggett allowed the use of his address of ‘RAGGETT & CO., Printers, 30 Red lion Square. London, W.C.1’ as the Registered Office of the Institution. His contributions to the Institution, however, were not limited to the use of his address, with C. Raggett undertaking the role of Honorary Secretary and serving in that position for over a 6 year period throughout the Institution’s first decade. He also sat on multiple committees including the Prize, Consultative and Papers Committees. The final annual report of this period referenced C. Raggett’s contributions stating that, “it is with great regret that the Council has to inform the Members of the resignation of Mr. C. Raggett as Hon. Secretary of the Institution. The increasing work of the Institution renders it necessary that a whole-time Secretary should be appointed and that the Institution should have its own offices. The Council also wishes to place on record its appreciation and thanks to Mr. C. Raggett for the great services which he has rendered to the Institution for so many years in the capacity of Hon. Secretary and for the continued use of his address as the Registered Office of the Institution.”
Capt. D. Richardson, R.A.F., Wh.Exh., A.M.I.M.E. and G. Young
As with all founding Members, Capt. D. Richardson, R.A.F., Wh.Exh., A.M.I.M.E. and G. Young were both individuals who, as outlined in the Inaugural Meeting article, came forward to consent to act as founders for the Institution. Capt. D. Richardson, R.A.F., Wh.Exh., A.M.I.M.E. sat on the Council of the Institution for 5 years until 1928 and G. Young sat on Council throughout the entire first decade of the Institution’s origin.
Within Lewis J. Yeoman, F.C.A.’s time on Council, his roles involved serving as a Vice-President from 1927 to 1928 followed by serving as President between 1928 and 1929. His involvement with the Institute continued moving forward with him being recognised and elected as a ‘Special Member’ in 1930 and him sitting on the Committee for Revision of Articles and By-Laws.
Our Structural Integrity Technical Group will be hosting their upcoming online Technical Group, from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM (UK time) on 15 June 2023.
The event, which is titled, ‘Back-to-Basics: Engineering Critical Assessment,’ will be useful for all who want to find out how Engineering Critical Assessments (ECAs) are performed, the input data needed and the pitfalls that can be associated with them.
Who Should Attend?
Materials, Welding and NDT Specialists, and all others who are interested in structural integrity.
Speaker and Presentations:
John Batey FWeldI has accomplished many accolades including passing multiple Institute of Welding Membership Examinations in 1966 to 1967. As well as going onto achieving multiple first class passes.
He qualified as a CSWIP 3.2.2 Welding Inspector and was awarded diplomas as a European Welding Technologist and a European Welding Inspection Specialist in both May and September 2000 respectively.
John discusses why he chose engineering, his extensive welding experience as being one of our longest serving Members and his advice to his younger self-beginning his career.
I passed The Institute of Welding’s Membership Examinations in Welding Technology, Welding Metallurgy, Welding Inspection and Control in 1966-67. I also obtained first class passes in technology and engineering drawing, science and calculations plus practical welding, for the Welding Technicians Grouped Course set by the Northern Counties Technical Examination Council in 1961, 1962 and 1963. I also achieved first class passes in the ordinary and advanced level of the City & Guilds of London Institute in Welding in 1962 and 1964.
The European Welding Federation (EWF) awarded me a diploma as a European Welding Technologist in 2000 and later that year, they awarded me a diploma as a European Welding Inspection Specialist. I later became certified by CSWIP as a Welding Inspector 3.2.2 Level 3 in 2015.
Starting with a five-year welding apprenticeship with The National Coal Board from 1960 – 1965, my career has included senior welding engineering and quality management positions in shipbuilding, offshore oil and gas projects, nuclear and conventional power plants and civil engineering contracts.
The latest company I worked for was Consolidated Contractors Company in the Middle East as a Chief Welding Engineer and Project Quality Manager on major oil and gas projects.
I chose a career in engineering as in the area where I lived, there were several heavy engineering industries with multiple job opportunities
I joined The Institute of Welding as a Graduate Member in 1963, I was then elected to the class of Member in November 1969, and finally to class of Fellow in November 1981.
Why did you initially join The Welding Institute?
I initially joined the Institute of Welding because I attended the monthly lectures held by the Northumbria Branch in Newcastle and wanted to be part of the organisation.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s I served in various capacities in the Northumbria Branch, I was Programme Secretary, Social Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Chairman and Chairman.
How would you say professional membership has helped you throughout your career?
Professional membership helped me throughout my career as clients and personnel recognised The Welding Institute as a very important organisation.
My fondest memories of being a member are attendance at Branch lectures, social events, Branch dinners and liaison with TWI staff on technical matters.
I would strongly advise anyone who wishes to have a career in Welding Engineering to gain as much practical welding experience as possible and join the Welding Institute as soon as they can.
Our Welding and Joining Processes Technical Group will be hosting their upcoming online Technical Group, from 12:30am – 13:30pm (UK time) on 8 June 2023.
The event, which is titled, ‘Back-to-Basics: MIG/MAG welding,’ will provide an introduction to MIG/MAG welding, attendees of this webinar will learn about the:
This webinar is aimed at engineers, technicians, welders and apprentices entering the welding profession or those with little or no knowledge of the process and would like to know more.
With this year marking 100 years of The Welding Institute supporting welding and joining professionals, we explored the impact of professional registration for your career.
In 1996, the Institute was granted licence from the Engineering Council to assess candidates for inclusion on the national register of professional engineers and technicians, allowing them to use the professional titles of Engineering Technician (EngTech), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng).
As UK legislation can be generally permissive in nature, it lends itself to the issue of anyone being able to claim themselves as an engineer - professional or registered. This arises the question of how to be able to tell the difference between a semi-skilled or unskilled person.
The Engineering Council helps to combat this, where they are able to grant professional titles (ICTTech, EngTech, IEng and CEng), which are protected by law. Attaining these professional and internationally recognised titles displays your professional competence all through voluntary registration with the Engineering Council. Assessments of your competence are typically carried out on behalf of the Engineering Council by a licensed member institution, like The Welding Institute.
According to the Engineering Council, chartered engineers, “are characterised by their ability to develop appropriate solutions to engineering problems, using new or existing technologies, through innovation, creativity and change. They might develop and apply new technologies, promote advanced designs and design methods, introduce new and more efficient production techniques, marketing and construction concepts, pioneer new engineering services and management methods. Chartered engineers are variously engaged in technical and commercial leadership and possess interpersonal skills."
The beginning of professional institutions in the UK begins with the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1818, followed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847 and the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1871. Between them, this ’big three’ represent 80% of registered UK engineers.
In 1964, the Joint Council of Engineering Institutions was formed, changing its name to the Council of Engineering Institutions (CEI) in 1965 and gaining a Royal Charter.
Royal charters have a long withstanding history, with the earliest on record being granted to the University of Cambridge in 1231 by Henry III of England.
Royal charters began to be granted to guilds, learned societies and professional bodies in 1272, when a royal charter was given to the Saddlers Company, followed by the Merchant Taylors Company in 1326 and the Skinners Company in 1327.
The CEI, complete with royal charter, provided a similar function to today’s Engineering Council as being the UK regulatory authority for the registration of chartered, incorporated and technician level engineers. A royal commission created by Sir Monty Finniston in 1977 investigated the possibility of direct government control of professional engineers, but it was eventually decided that it would be best not to follow this course of action. Instead, the Engineering Council was set up, with a royal charter of its own, in 1981 to replace the CEI.
The Engineering Council now boasts national registers for over 228,000 engineers and technicians, allowing those to demonstrate their professional competence. All whilst confirming trust and reassurance to employers, governments and wider society, national and international.
Having originally evolved as a small institute uniting acetylene welders with electric arc welders in 1923, The Welding Institute grew over the ensuing decades, becoming a professional engineering institution granted licence from the Engineering Council in 1996. This allowed the Institute to assess candidates for inclusion on the national register of professional engineers and technicians, awarding the titles of Engineering Technician (EngTech), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng).
Over 42.5% of Institute Members are professionally registered and, if you’re interested in learning more about professional membership and registration, or beginning your journey to becoming professionally registered, you can find out more or speak to our membership team.
Our NDT and Condition Monitoring Technical Group will be hosting their upcoming online Technical Group, from 9:30am – 11:00pm (UK time) on 31 May 2023.
The event, which is titled, ‘Back-to-Basics: Effect of joint design on NDT Effectiveness,’ aims to provide those responsible for specifying joint type and design with an appreciation of the impact of joint geometry on the effectiveness of subsequent NDT and the work involved to provide an adequate inspection.
This is relevant to those fabricating and inspecting the items and to those responsible for overall manufactured quality.
Stephen Wisniewski CEng, MWeldI, BEng (Hons), CSWIP/PCN L3, TWI Training and Examinations group Manager, TWI Ltd - Joint design and its effects on inspection capability
Amit Jain is a Lead Asset Integrity Engineer working at SABIC, KSA with a Masters in Welding Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, Rajasthan University, India.
He joined The Welding Institute in 2010 and shares with us his experiences through engineering as well as his thoughts on being professionally registered and becoming TechWeldI.
I registered with The Welding Institute and Engineering UK in 2010.
Please describe your current job role and responsibilities/a typical day in your role:
A summary of my roles and responsibilities would be welding and being involved with welding technology, root cause failures and risk assessments.
Engineering is versatile and offers many opportunities. It is an innovative field and a diverse industry, I enjoy contributing to teams through technical endeavour to sustain and improve lives.
What’s one of your biggest career highlights or achievements that you’re most proud of?
I am proud to achieve my Masters in Welding Engineering and receiving certification ‘IWE’ from IIW USA. I am also happy to have published technical papers in ‘International Welding Congress and International Journal’.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome this?
During conducting failure analysis, we were facing the problem of finding exact root cause however while going through some international journals and The Welding Institute technical papers, we were able to overcome this challenge.
Registration with The Welding Institute and Engineering Council establishes their proven knowledge, understanding and competence. It also helps to enhance competency in Welding Engineering through a technical database and job knowledge articles.
Tell us a bit about the process of becoming a Member of The Welding Institute
My journey of becoming Member of The Welding Institute started with a review of my CV and a check of eligibility by the technical committee. Then the committee went through my application and invited me for an interview.
Since I have my Master’s in Welding Engineering, I have applied for CEng however, initially my application was for eligibility for TechWeldI. Now I am in the process of applying for CEng Status.
When and why did you choose to become professionally registered?
During 2009, I started the process of becoming professionally registered with The Welding Institute and Engineering Council UK. Professional registration is helpful for job applications and tendering to work abroad.
How has Professional Registration as EngTech supported you in your career?
It establishes proven knowledge and demonstrates a commitment to professional standard.
How has Professional Membership as TechWeldI supported you in your career?
With the help of The Welding Institute’s Membership, you have access to technical journals and papers to enhance your technical knowledge and competencies.
What are your core involvements with The Welding Institute, what do they entail and why do you undertake them?
Yes, I was a mentor in my present organization for fresh engineers.
What membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?
I use all the Member benefits, but particularly the job knowledge articles.
Are there any membership benefits that you would like to use more?
I would like to use all the Membership benefits more.
What are your engineering aspirations?
I would like to achieve CEng Status as soon as possible and I am working towards that. I would like to provide technical support as advisor in my core competencies.
Would you recommend Membership with The Welding Institute and why?
Yes, anyone aspiring to be recognised as a professional engineer, this is the way to achieve this.
What advice would you give or what would you say to your younger self beginning your career in engineering?
By professional registration, you can demonstrate competence and commitment to perform professional work.
There was a vast demand for welding design and construction courses and therefore The Institute of Welding, currently The Welding Institute, established a School of Welding Technology.
This first course, held in 1957 on the welding of pressure vessels, took place near the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. This course can be seen as a precursor to today’s TWI Training with the popularity of the course led to 100 people applying for its 40 places and quickly leading to more courses being organised until, by the early 1960s, the school had hosted more than 300 visiting lecturers.
Not only did the Institute grow as a community with the increased number of candidates showing up for the courses, but the growing number of courses as well as the variety of programmes introduced connected us more with the needs of our audience.
CSWIP, the Certification Scheme for Welding and Inspection Personnel and TWI Certification foundations began in 1965. The BWRA and the Non-Destructive Testing Society of Great Britain created the School of Applied Non-Destructive Testing established formal training in areas including ultrasonic weld testing and radiographic interpretation leading to CSWIP.
TWI has gone on to expand across the UK, opening offices and laboratories in Middlesbrough, Aberdeen, Port Talbot and the Advanced Manufacturing Park, South Yorkshire, as well as gaining a global presence including in North America, China, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East.
In addition to the added offices and laboratories that are now in place around the world, we have recently introduced online courses that are designed to share our senior lecturers’ extensive knowledge but also available to be personalised to you. Online courses have various benefits to them, such as time and cost savings and making the content available for on-demand study and research.
TWI Training has grown since the most formative years as part of the Institute to now include a wide variety of international training diplomas and courses such as BGAS-CSWIP, welding specialist, technologist and engineer – IIW/EWF levels, global scheme for the certification competence of NDT personnel, ISO 9712 compliant courses, and accredited to IOSH, NEBOSH, and more.
Hence, as the Institute has continued to serve its Members and support their professional development while promoting the welding profession to future generations, there is still plenty of scope to learn new skills through TWI Training, fulfilling yet another of the original goals of The Welding Institute.
Currently the Head of Welding Engineering at Altrad Babcock Ltd, EUR ING Neil F Bennett CEng MSc SenMWeldI achieved his MSc in Welding Engineering from Cranfield University and has also gained the TWI Welding Engineering Diploma from TWI Training Examination Services.
Neil gives us an insight into the technical day-to-day responsibilities of working in engineering as well as his journey of becoming professionally registered as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) with the Engineering Council and a Member of The Welding Institute.
Originally, back in 1984/5 as an Associate Member. I have been a Senior Member for the last 11 years.
As Head of Welding Engineering, I have a small team of Senior Welding Engineers, a Senior Technician, a Welding Technologist and Welding Technicians/Instructors. We look after global Altrad operational welding governance, ensuring that it meets our accreditation to ISO 3834-2, and provide support on welding related issues.
Each day is usually different from the previous. We can be performing routine technical quality schedule reviews, contract technical reviews, consumable certification checks, or conducting/writing up PQRs/new WPSs. On the other hand, things can go right out of the window when emergent work lands during a plant outage, which may entail a complete rearrangement of the team’s workload distribution. Whilst we have new-build sites under construction, there are over a dozen currently in outage/TAR in the UK alone. We also operate in the Far East and Middle East where we are currently working offshore and on a new nuclear plant. The welding requirements are varied and that is what makes the role so interesting. We also must adapt to the time differences as well as the different work patterns to those in the UK.
I could say a lack of imagination! My dad was a manager at a major UK power station boiler OEM and worked through the heyday of that industry under nationalisation. The overall impression I got from his work was that it rewarded well, he seemed to like it and there were a few companies in my hometown of Derby supporting that industry, so I applied for an apprenticeship at a few of them. That was after I found out that my eyesight was not quite good enough to become a pilot!
I started off in power generation, followed by stints in railway, oil and gas, automotive, automation, aerospace, and then back into power generation, although Altrad Babcock operate in more than power generation these days.
What is one of your biggest career highlights or achievements that you’re most proud of?
There are a few, but one that is most prominent was the repair development of a couple of water tanks that each held 1.8m litres. The tanks were to be live at the time of repair, so the development had to be very thorough. Mock-ups were fabricated to simulate the repair scenario using various welding processes and methods of minimising the internal temperature to protect the rubber lining of the tanks. Ultimately, there was really no way of knowing that, if breached, the tanks would just gush or unzip and create a tsunami! The live repairs were monitored from inside using a remote vehicle (RV). Fortunately, the only thing that got wet was the RV!
Also, I can’t miss the opportunity to mention the first time I ran a robot cell at full speed that I had programmed – big boys’ toys those are!
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career and how did you overcome this?
The company I work for has always had a system of checking the levels of welding fume generated by our site activities, but the change in weld fume classification by the HSE in 2018 caused us to reconsider whether our processes were sufficiently robust to determine the exposure levels. One of my colleagues and I set about reviewing the factors affecting weld fume production, content and concentration, namely differing materials, welding processes and environments, to present a simple-as-possible system of analysing the exposure risk with each combination of factors. We had hardly had time to complete the real world testing of this revised system when we received an unannounced visit from an HSE inspector. We were pleased that the inspector went away happy having only made one minor comment.
The Welding Institute is recognised as a leading organisation in the field of welding, and so it made sense to become affiliated with others in the industries in which welding plays a major part. The range of seminars offered have been relevant to the industry sectors in which I have worked and cover interesting areas that are not part of those sectors.
Initially, I became an Associate Member when I took the TWI Welding Engineering diploma in the late 1980s. From then, as my experience increased, along with my responsibilities at work where I progressed from Technician to Welding Engineer, I became eligible to gain Member status. As my career had further progressed through to Senior Engineer in 2012, when I also gained my engineering chartership, Senior Member status was also granted to me. This step was undoubtedly assisted by attaining an MSc in Welding Engineering at Cranfield University and becoming Welding Services Manager (now Head of Welding Engineering) at Altrad Babcock.
The “when” part was just after I had gained my MSc. With the standing that CEng has within engineering, it made sense to have that association and to be recognised as having satisfied the requirements of that level. Chartership is a well-respected level of recognition of achievement within engineering which has brought me satisfaction from the work choices I have made to opportunities that have arisen in my career.
How has Professional Registration as CEng supported you in your career?
There is nothing exact that I can put my finger on, which may be because I have not changed company during this period of personal development. It will certainly not have harmed my internal standing as Technical Authority, Category Lead on operational site welding and RWC for ISO 3834-2.
What was the most difficult aspect of becoming registered as CEng and how did you overcome it?
Nothing springs to mind as being difficult. The professional review was enjoyable, despite my prior misgivings of what it may be like. This was partly due to the interviewers, who I will not embarrass here, but who will know who they were if they remember that far back! Thanks to them for making it an enjoyable couple of hours and the favourable outcome.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of becoming CEng?
The personal satisfaction of knowing you have reached that respected level within your profession.
Currently, apart from attending seminars/webinars, my main interactions are at Branch level where I attend local evening meetings. Previously I have mentored a candidate successfully through to CEng achievement and would consider doing so again should the opportunity arise.
As department head, it must be to leave it in a better place than I inherited it. That will be hard because it had very capable tillermen prior to my tenure. Operating methods are different, mainly due to technological advances in communication, data management, and remote systems access and software applications. However, one constant is the need to provide concise, technically accurate and timely support for those at the coalface of our operations.
I am starting to get used to thinking about my fast approaching retirement and how to handle that. This year will be my 40th year in the welding industry across different sectors with a total of twenty-nine in power generation; some things have changed, others have not – site welding on power station outages, process plant turnarounds, etc. are still mainly carried out using manual processes.
There are other processes out there that could replace these in part and I would like the opportunity to take them further. Whether that comes to fruition remains largely in the hands of R&D purse-string holders. I am happy to keep in a technical role; the next logical step-up would probably be to director level, but I prefer to remain in the technicalities of engineering. I would also wish to remain sitting on the BSI (British Standards Institution) Committee. It is an interesting role, provoking passionate discussions and varied opinions that put different lights on the way weld and welder qualification standards are used and interpreted.
Definitely. The benefits that this opens up are valuable along with the networking opportunities at seminars, etc. Branch events usually have interesting topics, which do not necessarily have to be within an individual’s immediate work sphere. Membership also provides a structure for personal and career development.
What advice would you give or what would you say to your younger self-beginning your career in engineering?
That it’s going to turn out alright! In saying that, I am not inferring that I had major misgivings or any lack of confidence in my early career. I left my first company, having progressed from Apprentice to Welding Engineer due to some excellent mentoring. I tried a few other industry sectors without a clear plan (thanks to redundancy) with the aims of not wanting to take a step backwards from an engineer level. The planning came a bit later in my career, which led to an MSc and step-ups from Welding Engineer to department head. I certainly did not imagine that I would achieve a chartership, which was not on my radar in my 20s – I was enjoying an outdoor, rugby playing lifestyle too much.
The Welding Institute
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