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2 November 2011
Philip Deakin, the 2011 Undergraduate Visionary
David Eaves, the 2011 Whitworth Visionary
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers' (IMechE) Vision Awards showcase talented people who are inspiring change and driving innovation forward. The Institution believes that engineers are central to resolving many of the challenges that our society currently faces. Whether it is using technological innovation to help the global economy on the path towards recovery or devising solutions to some of the big environmental issues we face, engineers will be at the heart of the response.
Two Department of Engineering graduates won Vision Awards this year: Philip Deakin, who graduated from the Department in 2010 won the Undergraduate Visionary award, and David Eaves who graduated from the Department in 2004 won the Whitworth Visionary award.
Undergraduate Visionary: Philip Deakin
Philip Deakin obtained an MEng degree in manufacturing engineering, graduating at the top of his year with a first class and distinction. During his time here, Philip completed two internships with Rolls-Royce working firstly for its air safety investigation team before working as an engine design engineer for the Ministry of Defence. Moreover, in spring 2009 he was part of the winning team of the Npower Energy Challenge, presenting strategic recommendations to the board of directors at Wembley Stadium.
Before his final year, Philip used his Institution scholarship towards funding a summer in Paris on a work placement with Total Exploration & Production. This not only allowed him to learn French, but it was his first real exposure to the oil and gas industry. Keen to continue exploring the engineering industry outside the UK, in his final year Philip organised a two week research project to Singapore and Malaysia. Visiting over 30 companies, the group delivered a detailed report on manufacturing in South East Asia.
After graduating in 2010, Philip joined Shell Upstream International in Aberdeen as a Production Technologist working in production optimisation. To gain practical, hands-on experience, he recently moved offshore in May 2011 as a Wellsite Drilling Engineer in the Dutch Sector of the North Sea. He finds the energy sector an exciting place to work and hopes to continue his work in this important industry.
After the presentation ceremony, Philip spoke eloquently about the need to promote engineering to the wider world, and his passionate commitment to helping inspire the next generation of engineers.
He said: “People don’t really know what engineers do. The misconception that we only fix washing machines or work in 1960s workshops is still prevalent and we have to seek out, and make the most of opportunities to change the perception of engineering in this country.”
“One of the challenges is that engineers tend not to be good communicators. Engineers are very good with numbers, tending to be the clever ones in the background. They are not so good at talking eloquently: one of the reasons why politicians tend to be lawyers rather than engineers!”
“Engineering also tends to be very broad. Engineers are behind everything from manufacturing the lawn mower you cut the grass with, to producing Innocent smoothies and designing your iPhone. By comparison, medicine is much narrower in its scope and arguably a simpler concept to comprehend: doctors make people better.”
“I believe that engineers must take the opportunities open to them to promote the breadth and diversity of what engineering encompasses.”
In the five years since going to university, Philip has worked for Rolls-Royce in their civil and defence divisions, and then took the opportunity to talk with the Bloodhound team members who were developing the engine for the supersonic car, as part of a presentation to inspire undergraduates at Cambridge. He has also made a point of gaining international experience, working in France for Total for a summer, and organizing a research trip to Malaysia, because: “it is really important to get a sense of the global reach of engineering.”
He has also chosen to work on projects about which he is passionate, and which can inspire young students to get excited about engineering. He said: “I’ve test driven an Aston Martin; had the chance to have a flight in a Eurofighter Typhoon; lived on a vineyard to learn French; visited the Guinness factory in Malaysia, and had dinner with the Red Arrows pilots. These were all amazing experiences for me, and I know they show the really exciting side of engineering that young people want to hear about. Describing what it’s like to drive an Aston Martin round a track at 170mph is a great hook for getting teenagers to learn more about engineering.”
Philip currently works for Shell on an offshore oil rig. Working two weeks on, and then having four weeks off, he has around 200 days of holiday a year – time that is set aside for voluntary work for charities and local communities. He explained: “Throughout my life, I have received incredible help and support from charities or organizations, such as IMechE, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Ogden Trust and the Arkwright Scholarship Trust. I have never forgotten what they have done for me, and I’ve made a commitment to go back to them to help them help other youngsters so that they can benefit from the same opportunities that I have. For example, I give talks to school children, and next week for the Ogden and Arkwright Trusts, I’m going into a school to talk to children about how physics relates to every day life.”
“If I could give one piece of advice to school children or engineering students, I would say this: keep your eyes and ears open and take every opportunity that comes along. Opportunities don’t happen by accident, though, so make things work for you – even something that seems small like taking part in a student competition could help to land you a dream job in engineering in the future.”
“Engineers need to be involved in the big problems facing society today; to do this we need to attract and retain high-potential individuals into the industry. The future of engineering will therefore depend on the good communication of the exciting opportunities open to those who choose a career in engineering.”
Whitworth Visionary: David Eaves
David graduated in 2004 with an MEng degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Cambridge. He then completed a graduate programme at Springfields Fuels Ltd – a wholly owned subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Company and formally part of the British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) group – and undertook a number of operations management roles. Then in 2009 he was selected for training as a Six Sigma Blackbelt/lean practitioner through the Westinghouse Customer 1st programme. Following a two year secondment he is now undertaking a process improvement and problem solving role within the technical support function at Springfields.
A Chartered Engineer, David is a fellow of the 2009 World Nuclear University Summer Institute. He takes an active role in the Whitworth Society and is currently the President. Since 2007 David has been a member of the Whitworth Awards Panel which selects for and oversees the Whitworth Awards scheme. He is also a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador and enjoys taking engineering into schools through various hands on activities.
His interest in engineering began at an early age as his father was a mechanic and aircraft fitter. Taking an old musical keyboard to pieces and realising that he could recycle the parts to make other things then inspired an ongoing fascination with electronics. Whilst at secondary school he joined the local ‘Young Engineers Club’ run by BAE Systems on Saturdays. This practical experience inspired him to undertake an apprenticeship with British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) at their Springfields works. David considers this early experience working with skilled people on plant and equipment as a key foundation of his professional engineering career.
David firmly believes that when Sir Joseph Whitworth proposed the awards he was both generous and extremely insightful, as his legacy has helped support the development of individuals and subsequently all branches of engineering since 1868. He explained: “When I was awarded the Whitworth Scholarship it was a great honour to follow in the footsteps of many great engineers. The provenance of the previous scholars and their achievements acts as an inspiration and virtual obligation to excel in your chosen field. Interacting with other scholars within the society helps to reinforce this and also you benefit from the knowledge and guidance a group of like minded people can bring.”
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