Miguel Da Fonseca EngTech TechWeldI currently works as a Quality Control Manager in mining in South Africa. He has achieved his International Welding Technologist (IWT) - International Institute of Welding (IIW) Diploma through the South African Institute of Welding (SAIW). In addition, Miguel has gained a Level 1 ‘Fabrication and Welding Inspector’ Qualification and National Diploma in Engineering Studies, whilst also being a qualified electrician who passed with Honours.
Having joined The Welding Institute in 2016, we asked Miguel about his journey through engineering, what it has entailed and additionally, how being EngTech registered with the Engineering Council has supported him in his career.
Please describe your current job role and responsibilities/a typical day in your role:
My roles and responsibilities span between improving resource efficiency, resource optimisation, process optimisation and more, however my role can be summarised as managing quality control executions in country and Mining Division for the SSAMESA region.
Why did you choose a career in engineering?
Engineering chose me if I must be completely honest.
My passion to this day has always been the automotive industry. When I was 18 years old, I was eager to start a career in the industry in some form or another but fate stepped in with an unexpected opportunity, changing my school of thought completely.
The opportunity presented was to study towards a trade qualification as an electrician in the mining industry. I thought it best, at the time, to not pass up the opportunity. My thought was that the trade would then be something to fall back on, allowing me the “security” to pursue my passions at a later stage.
After a few years of working as a qualified electrician on coal processing and extraction mines, another opportunity became available to possibly study towards becoming a mine engineer. This was something that I was highly excited about and thought that this was the apex of what I could achieve.
Fate unexpectedly stepped in again, and circumstances arose where I decided to take another opportunity to move from the mining industry to the construction industry. At this time, I was circumspect as to whether I was going to do myself a disservice by making the industry change, but I felt that a path was being chosen for me. Fate led me successfully thus far so I thought that the unknown could be regrettable if I did not continue to follow it.
In a challenging move, I had gone from fully electrical training and studies to an almost fully mechanical discipline.
I served in various roles but eventually, quality assurance and quality control found me. This is where my path became specialised, and I have been in mainly similar roles ever since.
I became fascinated with the welding, fabrication and associated quality control inspection processes. My manager, at the time, had pushed me to study through the company, as he wanted me to have a notable qualification and have further education to back up / support my work experience. He supported my thinking in further specialising in the welding discipline as it would support company expertise in the field whilst being a high enough qualification to support my career in the future.
What’s one of your biggest career highlights or achievements that you’re most proud of?
Every qualification and certification that I have achieved, are the standout highlights for me in their own way:
I have been truly blessed and humbled during this journey so far and I am looking forward to where my journey continues to take me.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome this?
There have been many work challenges but the one that stands out the most to me (being both work and personal), is passing the IWT examinations. As much as I thought I knew about the subject matter, I realised that there were quite a few things that I needed to fully understand.
The one valuable lesson I learned during that time was that talent without effort, never beats someone putting in the hard work required. Hard work beats talent every time.
Why did you initially join The Welding Institute?
A few months after obtaining my IWT qualification, one of my colleagues mentioned that he was part of The Welding Institute. He mentioned the fantastic library of information that was available to the welding community globally and that it was an amazing forum to be part of.
He promoted the Institute so positively that it made the decision to apply the logical step.
He also mentioned that there were very few South Africans that carried the post nominals. I remember speaking to the membership team and them clarifying that I was one of 35 Members in South Africa, at the time.
Tell us a bit about the process of becoming a Member of The Welding Institute
I had the most fantastic experience and was assisted through the process by a dedicated membership officer. She was so helpful, knowledgeable and prompt with her correspondence throughout the process.
After reviewing my CV and experience, they advised that I would be best suited to the Welding Institute’s Technician membership (TechWeldI) grade and Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration with the Engineering Council.
When and why did you choose to become professionally registered?
At the time of applying for professional membership of The Welding Institute, my colleague also told me that there was the option to apply for Engineering Council registration. They also promoted registration with the UK Engineering Council positively so it was the logical choice to apply.
How has Professional Registration as EngTech supported you in your career?
It was and continues to be a validation of my experience, studies and the value I can add to my organisation from a welding engineering perspective, particularly as many of our engineering team do not have the levels of experience with welding processes etc.
The most valuable aspects of professional registration were the ethical and professional behaviour elements due to the important role they play in working with integrity.
What was the most difficult aspect of becoming registered as EngTech and how did you overcome it?
Again, my membership officer was so helpful, knowledgeable and prompt with her correspondence throughout the process. With my colleague and membership officer’s support, there was nothing that I perceived as too difficult or challenging. I sought insight, inspiration and guidance from my lifelong welding mentor, with my application process and documents submitted.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of becoming EngTech?
The ethical and professional behaviour aspect is the most valuable aspects as part of performing my daily work with integrity.
What are your core involvements with The Welding Institute, what do they entail and why do you undertake them?
Due to my level of current responsibilities and workloads, I am unfortunately not as active as I would like to be. I have however, promoted the Institute to a number of South Africans in the welding community, which I have regular contact with.
I have been part of some referrals in the past and am hoping to be in future, should some of my extended welding community colleagues apply for membership.
What membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?
The membership benefits that I use most regularly include the events, newsletters, forums, and library, additionally access to speak and network with the knowledgeable people within the organisation. The articles in the newsletters are the information that I use the most.
Are there any membership benefits that you would like to use more?
The Weldasearch and Technical Library are things that I need to use more to continue to build knowledge.
What are your engineering aspirations?
I am blessed in my current role and would like to explore options in Welding Engineering, in some form or another.
As we progress, the fantastic work being done globally into research and improving welding methods, understanding welding failures, and cases where good welding practices would have helped, are vital for future production methods.
The fourth Industrial Revolution is a fascinating prospect and welding technology will continue to play a part in how we progress as a society. There are always going to be new ways to do things better, minimise errors, improve where we find challenges and the exciting prospect of probably being exposed to these improvements is something I look forward to. I also think that new material combinations and natural resources being used within manufacture will require research and development to improve our changing futures.
Would you recommend Membership with The Welding Institute and why?
I have been and will continue to be a promoter of The Welding Institute. The knowledge and diversity within the Institute’s community is unmatched globally, in my opinion.
What advice would you give or what would you say to your younger self-beginning your career in engineering?
Your attitude is the most important thing in your career. Stay positive even when things are going wrong and the challenge seems unsurmountable. Always value your integrity highly and continue to show respect to everyone and everything (it all has value) - this will continue to keep you grounded. Talent without effort, never beats someone putting in the hard work required, hard work beats talent every time. Give the task in front of you the full attention it deserves. Pause before responding; think about what you are going to say, especially during heated or uncomfortable situations. Sometimes your career finds you.
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