I remember looking at a poster of the IMechE "membership ladder" on the university noticeboard and hoping that one day I would be able to reach the top rung - the status of Fellow.
Was Fellowship your first accolade from the Institution?
No, in my final year at university I was awarded the Institution’s Project Prize for my undergraduate final year project. The recommendation for the prize was made by the lecturers on my course, most of whom were FIMechE - so it was a lot like a seal of approval that "this project was good". This in turn helped me when I was applying for funding for my PhD.
What is your area of expertise?
My field of expertise is in the behaviour and endurance of tension members - primarily wire and fibre ropes, but also chains which are often used in series with ropes. The work I undertake is very varied, which keeps it interesting - ropes and chains are used in literally hundreds of different applications such as bridges, cranes, mines, offshore moorings, aerial cableways and so on. Generally my work falls into broad categories of expert witnessing - usually advising on why something has failed; or advising a client how best to design something so it doesn't fail.
Part and parcel of this is designing and directing experimental work to investigate specific behaviours or endurance characteristics for customers. This might be a series of fatigue tests to define a particular rope construction or may require designing apparatus to test a specific loading mechanism for a rope application.
What are the benefits of Fellowship to you?
Fellowship status is mutually beneficial. It means that the Institution recognises my contributions to the profession, and that I recognise the importance of the Institution to our profession. As a consultant, potential customers can see that a professional institution recognises my standing in my chosen field of expertise. By "standing", I mean not only my academic qualifications, but through adherence to the Institution's by-laws, a person who may be relied upon to serve the client's interests with integrity and honesty.
What advice would you offer other consultant engineers considering Fellowship?
Go to the website and have a look at the criteria or attend a branch IMechE event - either specifically for Fellowship applications or just so that you can make contact with Fellows. I was helped considerably with my application by a Fellow I met at branch event.
Find out more about becoming a Fellow