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Spotlight: Tom West, Senior Intervention Engineer at OneSubsea, a Schlumberger company

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I do a passable Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons) impression.

Tell us about your career journey so far

Studied Mechanical Engineering at Robert Gordon University and during my studies obtained a scholarship with an oil and gas verification/inspection company, Bureau Veritas, where my placement role largely involved reviewing other people’s/company’s designs for products to ensure compliance to industry specifications. I benefitted greatly from this experience and it fuelled a desire to work in an in environment where I could do designs of my own so looked for a graduate role with service/design companies.

The subjects/projects I most enjoyed in University were the design projects where we were afforded some freedom to explore multiple designs and experiment with varied approaches. We learned as much, if not more, from the failures than we did from the successes.

Upon graduation in 2013 I took a role as a design engineer with OneSubsea, a designer of Subsea Production Systems for oil and gas. I have worked on multiple projects through my time with the company as well as obtaining some business exposure through tendering for new business.

Currently I’m a Senior Intervention Engineer with OneSubsea leading a package design for subsea production equipment to be used up to 3,000m deep in the South Atlantic Ocean. We will be manufacturing in 2021.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Graphic Design/Technology. I loved to be creative and really enjoyed technical drawing/crafting. At the time I was looking to study architecture at University and these were the most relevant design subject available to me. This department also had particularly enthusiastic teachers which provided me with encouragement to work hard and apply myself.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

Physics, Graphic Design, Maths, Technology, Business, English.

Other school subjects that I didn’t take which may also have benefitted me in my career to date; Chemistry and Accounting.

Degrees in Engineering are a necessity if you wish to progress with professional chartership.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Seeing the physical results of your hard work. I get great pleasure from seeing a piece of equipment I helped design come to fruition. It’s satisfying knowing we have designed to comply with industry regulations and that the equipment will function safely for years to come, assisting the customer in achieving their goals.

What is a normal day in your role like?

A normal day involves a couple of meetings with the project teams and/or client to discuss progress and any challenges. Depending on the phase of the project I am working on I will likely spend some time reviewing 3D CAD (computer aided design) models/drawings, ensuring that specified materials are appropriate and that dimensions/tolerances are correct. I also write/check a lot of design calculations / operating / assembly / test procedures which will verify that the products are safe and operate as intended.

Most of my work is done at a computer but if we are in testing or assembly stages of the project I can often be overseeing work/troubleshooting in the workshop. These days are typically more exciting as it’s something different from the norm but they can also be stressful when things aren’t going exactly as planned!

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

The majority of equipment I work with/design has an element of pressure containment. We are containing/transporting hydrocarbons through a subsea environment so ensuring we are not going to leak oil and gas into the ocean is critical for environmental reasons.

Any activities to do with the power of pressure are relevant to my work;

· Previously did the “Rocket Mice” experiment with a group of P2-P3 children to demonstrate the power of compressing air.

Activities which involve design on the part of the students are also highly relevant;

· Design of a water transport vessel to carry some “tools” using plastic/paper cups, tape, lollipop sticks, paper. Each item has a cost and consideration should be given to overall build cost. The vessel should be designed to satisfy the requirements without overdesigning/spending too much.

· Bloodhound balloon powered car (design element of this is applicable to my work)


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