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Engineering alumnus finds his dream job in Australia

Ian Jones

[Brunel had] a more holistic approach to forming engineers, not just teaching. Courses I did in video editing, photography and being involved in student theatre helped me as much as my degree with interviews, creativity and giving me other skills to fall back on.

Ian, Alumni

Well Integrity Specialist & Government Inspector, National Offshore Petroleum Safety & Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) - Australian Federal Regulator

Special Engineering Programme with French - 1997

From Australia

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

Scuba Instructor in France; Shell Graduate training - 2.5 years in the Netherlands, 4 years the USA (New Orleans) and 7 years in Malaysian Borneo. After leaving Shell, I started with Western Australia Consulting. Having been made redundant in 2015 due to the oil crash, I started a business as an Industrial Photographer and Drone Pilot. After 3 years I went back into engineering when a dream job with NOPSEMA came up and gave me a chance to work in Government for my new country. I became an Australian Citizen in 2016.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

Average Day - Lots of reading plans and doing hand checks to engineering calculations, writing up inspection findings and decisions. NON AVERAGE DAY - Offshore inspections, e.g. fly to Melbourne, climb into a survival suit, lifejacket and escape scuba set then squeeze into a helicopter with a dozen other large sweaty people for up to 2 hours and spend 3 or 4 days working day and night poking my nose around the rig and interviewing people. Then going home and writing it up.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I can't talk too much about it due confidentiality, but preventing a company from doing something that involved reducing safety for cost and using engineering arguments to justify sailing so close to the wind. Most company’s safety attitude far exceeds the minimum, but occasionally someone tries to be too aggressive. We actively police and coach the industry. Bringing them back into line and looking after the public's interest was satisfying.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

Be an all-round engineer, technical person and manager as opposed to the more silo’d approach I see today. It led me into Shell's training scheme which gave me a huge amount of costly further industry training equivalent to an MEng (Shell's round 1 & 2 training now forms the core of an MEng). Brunel's holistic view also included the arts - courses I did in video editing, photography and being involved in student theatre helped me as much as my degree with interviews, creativity and giving me other skills to fall back on when I was made redundant.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I chose Brunel for one course in particular; for its Special Engineering Programme with French due to its multidisciplinary approach and Brunel's close industry partnership and sandwich degrees; developing engineers with broader aptitude and capacity as well as in-demand skills. A more holistic approach to forming engineers, not just teaching.

What is your best memory of studying here?

My best Memories are of forming the Brunel University Sub Aqua Club in 1995 and diving in Cornwall and Wales with my friends. Competing in the Netherlands at Enshede University with the Brunel Fencing team and performing on stage in Terry Pratchett's "Mort" with the Drama group. My worst - and I still have the nightmare - is waking up feeling there's an exam tomorrow and I haven't prepared for it: I always see the old Sports Centre Hall in my head!

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Get an internship; better yet get sponsored if you can. Do lots of time in industry during uni but save for a really good short vacation too. Don't wait too long to do a second degree, but get some experience first. Never stop learning to ensure you have a range of skills (Blue collar and White Collar) to survive downturns. Don't end up stuck in one industry.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

  1. Try to get a good company that has a good graduate training scheme. Graduation is just the START of the hard work not the end. Suck up EVERYTHING you can.
  2. Keep a logbook.
  3. Find a good mentor and regularly meet.
  4. Help others up and mentor others when you have knowledge to share.
  5. Learn to be concise and only answer with one answer when asked for one answer (still working on that one!).