Meet Our Member - Army Engineer Stuart Douglas
"As a member of the Royal Engineers, I recently completed my professional engineering training at The Royal School of Military Engineering’s (RSME) Professional Engineering Wing (PEW), based in Chatham, Kent.
Part of this training entailed completing an MSc in Military Construction Engineering (Electrical and Mechanical) and achieving the title of Professionally Qualified Engineer (PQE); the military equivalent of Chartered Engineer (CEng). I’ve also applied for this ‘industry equivalent’, and am currently awaiting the result of my application from the IET.
Having joined the Army after completing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, my non-traditional route into engineering was supported by the PEW, which provided the necessary extra training I needed. And I’m not a ‘one off’ – the PEW has also trained engineers who’ve come from backgrounds as varied as sports and exercise science through to leadership and management.
If I’d planned my career I probably would have done things differently. I picked a subject at university that I found interesting at school rather than through any long-term plan and in hindsight I should have done something different.
Having played too much rugby at university, I toyed with the idea of making a career out of it after graduation, but then I got real, and began to think seriously about the Army. I knew that I wanted to travel abroad and be involved in constructing things, and that’s why I joined the Royal Engineers.
Because I didn’t have an engineering degree I’d always ruled out going through the professional stream though. However, I heard of others from different backgrounds achieving places on the course so I started to wonder if it could also be a possibility for me. It’s been very demanding time-wise and academically, but I knew if given the chance, I would work hard to complete the training.
For my industry placement I worked as a consultant for Gatwick Airport’s Project Delivery Department. This looks after the airport’s development plans for the next five to 10 years, covering everything from airfield programmes through to projects involving terminals and car parks.
During my stint with this division, I was involved in a programme to upgrade the airport’s x-ray machines and luggage haul system. The budget was around £140 million and I spent the year working on the electrical/mechanical plan, which included the lighting, power distribution, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. I was involved in everything from design and contracting through to inspection. Once you’re embedded in there you can see that it’s one of Gatwick’s key infrastructures; it’s all about getting people through the airport and onto the plane securely and safely.
Once I’d gained my spot on the MSc course, I had to choose which professional organisation to join in regards to my professional development and registration. Before starting the course I did some investigation into each of the professional engineering institutions and the IET’s broadness appealed to me; the fact that it encompasses a number of disciplines, it's not just mechanical building services. The MSc we do as part of our training covered both electrical and mechanical, and that seemed to fit well with the IET’s history.
I’ve taken advantage of many membership benefits, including attending Local Network events and reading IET publications such as Partner News and E&T, reading these on my train journey to and from Gatwick!
I also really enjoy IET.tv – I got a much clearer idea of what to expect at my chartership interview by watching a short video online.
There are a lot of great talks around chartership and CPD but these are usually at centralised events in IET London: Savoy Place. I live out in Crawley, and with two young kids they’re really difficult to get to, so IET.tv is great for accessibility. These videos are also great to watch on the train commute too.
It doesn’t happen often, but I do like to attend some of the local events – there’s a wide variety of events on everything from satellite control systems through to train network systems. These are topics I find really interesting, but they might not always support my CPD towards CEng. Therefore, having access to so many more of the talks from around the world is really great for all engineers working on professional development.
I really support the idea of more Local Networks even just popping a camera up at the back of their hall and pressing record for each event!"
If you're an IET member and it has benefited you in your career then we would love to hear from you.
Simply contact Carl Resch with a brief explanation of how the IET has helped you in your career.