Professional Development Case Study
Name: Peter Richardson
Job Title: Class Lead Engineer
Company: Babcock International
Professional Body (Member of): Institute of Mechanical Engineers
Focus on your continued professional development throughout your career taking opportunities within your company or events held by engineering institutions
Summary of education, career and professional progression
After graduating from University my first position was as a graduate engineer within the Regional Aircraft division of BAE Systems. The primary role of the engineering team is to meet the OEM obligation to provide in-service support of the fleet and improve the capabilities to meet the requirements of the operators. Integral to the role was to deliver compliance against the airworthiness requirements. During my time with the company I also contributed to large company wide engineering projects and volunteered for a secondment in the Flight Operations department dealing directly with the customers responding to technical queries. Through the variety of workload and being provided with the opportunity to lead small projects I achieved Chartered Engineering status with the IMechE towards the end of my time with the company.
Looking for a change in career I took the opportunity to diversify into the oil and gas industry with Fugro Subsea Services. The division operate a fleet of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and vessels to support clients in a wide range of global projects. My own position was to lead the simulation discipline within the engineering department to develop innovative design solutions to support ROV and vessel operations including subsea construction, inspection, repair and maintenance. The engineering department relied on close collaboration utilising a multi-disciplinary skillset of 3D design, drafting, structural engineering, simulation and project management.
Building on both my experience providing engineering support to legacy assets and my time in the marine environment I received the opportunity to join Babcock Marine and Technology as a Class Lead Engineer for the Sandown class of minehunter vessels. My main responsibility is to provide engineering oversight to all engineering activities taking place on the fleet to ensure the vessels remain available, capable, affordable and safe to operate. Working with complex warships provides a great diversity of engineering challenges to overcome, while providing opportunities to implement innovative engineering solutions to benefit the through-life support of the assets.
Key projects undertaken throughout career
My major responsibilities and achievements in my career to date are as follows:
- Validation of flight test data against performance certification requirements during a military aircraft design and development programme and produce technical reports to demonstrate compliance against the regulations.
- Developed and tested fuel saving software for the in-service fleet of aircraft.
- Responsible for improving an existing in-house aircraft design simulator to adapt to engineering projects and introduce automation into the process.
- Applied knowledge of aero-elastics and structural dynamic activities to a major design modification project to convert a civil aircraft to a fire-fighting role.
- Leading all simulation activities to aid subsea engineering projects to provide bespoke ROV intervention tooling.
- Provide mission rehearsal and task familiarisation using simulation consoles to provide proof of concept that it is possible to deploy vessels and ROVs in selected currents and Sea States.
- Champion the capabilities of the subsea engineering department during design reviews with senior clients, oil and gas conferences and at local events.
- Ensure the engineering governance is provided to all modifications undertaken on the Sandown vessels over a range of constructive, mechanical and electrical disciplines.
- Contribute to risk management which identifies, classifies and endorses hazards when they arise, providing safe platforms to operate.
What advantages do you feel your career path gave you?
A graduate role with a large multinational engineering company provided me with a range of opportunities from an early point in my career. There was scope to travel between sites to work closely with senior engineers with diverse specialisms who were the subject matter experts in their area of expertise. This was crucial to meet the competencies set out by the IMechE to become a chartered engineer. The transferrable nature of the engineering skills I have gained in my career has allowed me to span a range of industries in aerospace, subsea and naval marine.
Throughout my career I have been eager to accept increased responsibility when the opportunity arises. Only after proving myself in these circumstances I have been able to take on some senior roles throughout my career. This has culminated in achieving my current role as a class lead engineer with Babcock Marine and Technology.
Advice for future engineers or those interested in the industry
Focus on your continued professional development throughout your career taking opportunities within your company or events held by engineering institutions. Speak to engineers actively working in the industry to discover the most satisfying part of their role and the biggest challenges that they had to overcome to reach their position. Get familiar with the industry by reading recent news articles to establish the amount of growth for career progression in the company and the sector