Chris Clark

Professional Development Case Study

Name: Chris Clark

Age: 27

Job Title: Naval Architect

Company: BMT Defence Services

Professional Body (Member of): RINA, IMechE

Professional Qualifications: NC, HNC, HND, BSc

There is a major sense of achievement when you can see a ship you’ve helped design in the water and not just on paper.

Brief Summary of education, career and professional progression…

I’ve been working for BMT Defence Services since I left school in 2006. I joined as a technical apprentice and am now a Naval Architect in the Structures team. When I finished my A-levels I didn’t particularly want to go to university as I didn’t know which course I wanted to study. I was just looking to get a decent job; I wasn’t looking for a specific industry to join. I found an ad for the technical apprentice scheme at BMT which offered a good job and paid training, following my enjoyment of Design and Technology subjects at schools and my time in the Army cadets it seemed like the scheme was just what I was looking for. On the apprenticeship scheme I completed secondments in the different engineering departments at BMT and also at other BMT group companies. I was also paid to attend college; working first towards by National Certificate (NC), then Higher National Certificate (HNC) and finally to study for my Higher National Diploma (HND). As the scheme was accredited by IMechE, after I was awarded my HND I became an accredited engineer with an EngTECH accreditation. After completing my secondments I chose to remain in the naval architecture department as I enjoyed working on the “big picture’” side of ship design and I also enjoyed the opportunity to carry out a lot of 3-D modelling work. After achieving my HND I decided I wanted to attend university to achieve my Bachelor in Science (BSc) as it would shorten my route to CEng. As I already had a HND I was only required to complete the third year of the three year course to achieve a BSc in Mechanical Design and Manufacture. BMT gave me the year off work to complete this, with a guaranteed job on my return, as well as awarding me some sponsorship to attend university. Since returning to work after university I have been working towards achieving my chartered engineer (CEng) status, which I hope to achieve in the next year.

Key projects undertaken throughout career

The major projects I’ve worked on have been the Tide Class Tankers for the UK Navy and the LSV ship for the Norwegian Navy. These were the first two ships solely designed by BMT and there is a major sense of achievement when you can see a ship you’ve helped design in the water and not just on paper.

What advantages do you feel your career path gave you?

Becoming an engineer through the apprenticeship route has meant that I’ve been getting paid since I left school and only have a very small amount of student loans compared to graduates. As I’d been working for years when I achieved my degree I had much more experience than other graduates, which meant I could be given more responsibility.

Advice for future engineers or those interested in the industry

A lot of people believe that joining the industry through the apprenticeship route means it will take much longer to achieve senior positions compared to doing an engineering degree. However I should become a chartered engineer about 10 years after leaving school which is comparable with how long it would have taken if I’d done a Masters degree, except I don’t have the debt that goes along with a master’s degree.