Welbeck to Close

I guess they were from that ‘godless college on Gower Street’?*

*UCL
That one. And the geeks from South Kensington Tech.

One of the less valuable post-nominals I have collected on life’s journey is the esteemed AKC, Associate of Kings College. That involved proving that I attended a college that wasn’t godless by taking one lecture a week on religion. Like most engineers who did AKC, I did it because it was a far richer target environment than engineering.

Sadly Kings, the oldest engineering university in the UK, no longer has an Engineering Division.
 
it worked for me...

Although I'd note I wasn't at Welbeck, and the numbers of Welbexians in the RN must be vanishingly small.

We're struggling for Weapon Engineer officers - mainly because the source degrees for the branch (typically electronics, computer science and physics) are hugely sought after across the UK. Indeed, I was headhunted in Uni to become a Quant (which I obviously turned down), but that's the market forces we're fighting against.

Where we're different to the Army is that we have a fair steady and sustained pull through of Ratings into the Officer cadre, who are then employed exactly the same as "DEs". Our Engineers are engaged in Engineering (if they want) throughout their career, and have easy potential to 2* and beyond. There is a defined route to CEng with mainstream Engineering institutions and (IIRC) required for promotion to SO1 for all types of Engineer.

Is our STEM recruitment perfect - no. Is it good enough - sort of. Do Naval Engineers do Engineering - yes.
That’s kind of my point. If the Navy employs a vanishingly small number of Welbexians, why keep it?

Almost all service engineers operate and maintain or manage the operation and maintenance of equipment. Few ever get involved in the design and manufacturing side of engineering.

Many engineering graduates go into engineering because they want to design and make stuff, whether it’s bridges, engines or computers. They have interest in operation and maintenance. I’m one of those.....

The operation and maintenance engineering industries have always been technician engineer heavy. To me the solution is to offer a clear progression from technician to professional engineer and recruit for that. Once again, I question the wisdom of closing RMCS.
 
Where the gap exists is in the fields of procurement, major programme management and delivery and - to a much lesser extent - original research and development (the sort of thing @Gravelbelly knows...
I've been doing design for thirty years - and I love it. I get to indulge my creative, inventive side while building new stuff - not testing someone else's design [1], or installing their designs on-site and complaining about how it's not fit for purpose. I've managed small teams, and I'm OK at it, but I'm better suited to just getting all head-down and hyper-focus while I build castles in the air. Give me a crunchy problem, leave plenty of coffee, and throw me the occasional doughnut, and I'm as happy as a pig in muck. The pay isn't as good, but the stress levels are lower. I get paid as much as a Field Officer, typically only work 40 hours a week (no shifts, no weekends), and I generally only have one, fifteen-minute, meeting per day. Woohoo...

AIUI, there aren't any decent design engineering jobs in the Armed Forces, less those jealously guarded by RE and RAF Engineering Branch Warrant Officers (we had an RAF Field Team in our department when I was designing radars for Typhoons - but they didn't really design anything, just guided the requirements). Friends who went Regular after their engineering degree certainly didn't do anything that made me envious - and they often didn't spend enough time on the tools to gain "engineering street cred" a solid understanding of the basis of the profession

But that inventive side is useful. In my case, multiple years doing parallel programming jobs meant that being Ops Officer at CAST was downright fun. Write a program to be executed across multiple sub-units, that avoids race conditions and deadlock, is as simple as possible, meets all requirements, is fault-tolerant, and can be hacked together in an all-nighter? Lovely.

Interestingly, a lot of software types can program - but have real problems with parallelism (multi-threading / multi-processing). It's similar to how some officers can write good sets of Orders, while others write incoherent (and internally inconsistent) piles of sh!te. Some staff officers can organise the soot-juggling that is BG MAIN, others get flustered and generate stuff late and rubbish.

A long time ago (nearly twenty years, bugger it), I had an interesting chat with @Darth_Doctrinus on the many ways that Operational Staff Work could benefit from taking a close look at the parallels with software engineering - but good engineering, not the clowns who think that "don't bother with that design stuff, just hack it" and "don't write it down. we're agile" make them cutting-edge... Hmmmm, might dust it off and throw it at the Wavell Room...

[1] Test Engineer walks into a bar. Orders a beer. Orders five beers. Orders zero beers. Orders -1 beer. Orders 256 and then 65536 beers. Orders a Rhinocerous. Orders a 1); DROP TABLE Customers;--
 
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That’s kind of my point. If the Navy employs a vanishingly small number of Welbexians, why keep it?

Almost all service engineers operate and maintain or manage the operation and maintenance of equipment. Few ever get involved in the design and manufacturing side of engineering.

Many engineering graduates go into engineering because they want to design and make stuff, whether it’s bridges, engines or computers. They have interest in operation and maintenance. I’m one of those.....

The operation and maintenance engineering industries have always been technician engineer heavy. To me the solution is to offer a clear progression from technician to professional engineer and recruit for that. Once again, I question the wisdom of closing RMCS.
Oh, I doubt we'll even notice it going!
 
Almost all service engineers operate and maintain or manage the operation and maintenance of equipment. Few ever get involved in the design and manufacturing side of engineering.
@alfred_the_great, @Magic_Mushroom. and @HE117 can probably answer this better than I can - but I was wondering whether the service engineers most likely to actually do design and manufacture (not in any order, and not an exclusive list, other engineers may apply) were:
  • Sundodgers on the RN duty bomber - if it breaks, you can't exactly draw a new part from Stores; and the V-boats are twenty to thirty years old and counting... Making do and mending is, I suspect, a necessity.
  • Third-line? workshops in the RAF - the Jaguar GR.1B / GR.3 / GR.3A updates being a good example, Nimrod MR.2P being an arguable one (but I do wonder whether it's likely or possible in these enlightened times post Haddon-Cave; does the RAF hold Design Authority for any of its aircraft other than BBMF?).
  • Clerk of Works in the RE - actually getting to draw up, supervise build, and sign off physical infrastructure; with a heavy emphasis on Civil Engineering.
  • (On a smaller scale) ATOs designing and manufacturing solutions to munitions problems, namely "how do I stop the b**tard who built this from killing me / others?"...
It does look a bit to my naive eye as if the Army views serious engineering as a mostly-SNCO task (bit like flying, really), and that what you really need are generalist officers to keep an eye on those tiresome tradesman types...

The opportunities for us nerdy software engineering types to do reasonable-scale software design are of course shadowed with the words "Shhh - Cyber. We could tell you, but...", but I'm guessing it's mostly micro-scale stuff (where "large scale" is a couple of hundred people for a decade or two of engineering effort, and "small-scale" is four or five people for a couple of years).
 
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Air Engineer Officer definitely - mainly for battle damage repair and/or equipment rectification. A good example would be 1710 Naval Air Squadron, but all Squadron Engineers are cleared to professionally change an aircraft (sometimes outside of the RTS) to maintain Operational Capability.

Other Engineers - possibly.

Do our Engineers sit in shoreside offices with CAD or whatnot open, creating new capability: not routinely, not least because we contracted nearly all of that out in the 80s. There is a lot of engineering management, project management and the sustainment of engineering capability. I do detect a bit of "sniffiness" on this thread about the latter two, but very few of my peers from my Engineering degree are still 'front line' engineers creating new tech, most of them are in the management of engineering.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
The opportunities for us nerdy software engineering types to do reasonable-scale software design are of course shadowed with the words "Shhh - Cyber. We could tell you, but...", but I'm guessing it's mostly micro-scale stuff (where "large scale" is a couple of hundred people for a decade or two of engineering effort, and "small-scale" is four or five people for a couple of years).
I don't think it'll come as any sort of a surprise if I float my suspicion that cyber R&D and original code cutting is not in any way a core role for any uniformed type. Look to OGD and industry for that, would be my suspicion.
 
Air Engineer Officer definitely - mainly for battle damage repair and/or equipment rectification. A good example would be 1710 Naval Air Squadron, but all Squadron Engineers are cleared to professionally change an aircraft (sometimes outside of the RTS) to maintain Operational Capability.

Other Engineers - possibly.

Do our Engineers sit in shoreside offices with CAD or whatnot open, creating new capability: not routinely, not least because we contracted nearly all of that out in the 80s. There is a lot of engineering management, project management and the sustainment of engineering capability. I do detect a bit of "sniffiness" on this thread about the latter two, but very few of my peers from my Engineering degree are still 'front line' engineers creating new tech, most of them are in the management of engineering.
Definitely not “sniffiness” on my part; I’ve spent most of my career in engineering as a project manager and very little of it “doing engineering”

I’m simply reflecting on the challenge of attracting and retaining STEM graduates in a highly competitive market place. I remain convinced after approaching 25 years of mentoring graduate mechanical engineers to chartership that most people study engineering to create things.

I think that is more the case now that graduates come through the STEM agenda from schools because of the STEM emphasis on using science to create.

It sort of connects to my earlier point; if the package is right and marketed well, then you will attract quality graduates. Part of that package is job content.
 
I think that is more the case now that graduates come through the STEM agenda from schools because of the STEM emphasis on using science to create.
I'm not complaining.

The boundary between "all STEM" and "nah, none of that nerdy stuff" certainly appears blurred with firstborn. He's decided he wants to do languages and business at university, and is heading for the Arts Faculty somewhere; but is currently doing a crash-course Advanced Higher in Computing Science (having done well in his Higher Maths), and doesn't view it as an exclusive-or choice.

Youngest is of course trying to do every STEM subject he can, none of that arty rubbish, and dreams of being an electronic+mechanical engineer. We eventually gave up trying to persuade him that even a basic foreign language qualification was helpful, and are fighting a rearguard action about the necessity of being able to communicate effectively in written English... :(
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
I'm not complaining.

The boundary between "all STEM" and "nah, none of that nerdy stuff" certainly appears blurred with firstborn. He's decided he wants to do languages and business at university, and is heading for the Arts Faculty somewhere; but is currently doing a crash-course Advanced Higher in Computing Science (having done well in his Higher Maths), and doesn't view it as an exclusive-or choice.

Youngest is of course trying to do every STEM subject he can, none of that arty rubbish, and dreams of being an electronic+mechanical engineer. We eventually gave up trying to persuade him that even a basic foreign language qualification was helpful, and are fighting a rearguard action about the necessity of being able to communicate effectively in written English... :(
Eldest is bang on the money. Push him towards some psychology and perhaps the Army Reserve as an interrogator as well, the soft stuff is far, far more important than any of that technical rubbish, there's always a geek around if you need one, the critical skill is interpreting suit to T-shirt and vice versa. Be the man in the conversation looking at everyone else's shoes.

For youngest, dangle Eur Ing at him and mention the mandatory language part. Remind him that if he's just going to be doing engineering, he'll top out at mid-range salaries and increasingly specialist but poorly compensated and insecure niches.
 

NemoIII

War Hero
Is our STEM recruitment perfect - no. Is it good enough - sort of. Do Naval Engineers do Engineering - yes.
Yet the army requires REME officers to have degrees in engineering(?), when there day to day job generally requires them to do nothing at all to do with engineering.

What a waste for someone to go to uni and study STEM to literally look after the welfare of the tradesman doing the work.
 
Yet the army requires REME officers to have degrees in engineering(?), when there day to day job generally requires them to do nothing at all to do with engineering.

What a waste for someone to go to uni and study STEM to literally look after the welfare of the tradesman doing the work.
Their day job doesn't include engineering when there are sat in a field unit as the majority is swept up by the Tiffy's. Sat in DE&S or some other HQ, engineering is far more likely to drive decisions. Our Corps looked at "changing the day job" but the conclusion was the the Officer Corps don't have the appetite for the graft.
 
Yet the army requires REME officers to have degrees in engineering(?)... What a waste for someone to go to uni and study STEM
Because they might be kinky b**tards who actually enjoy it...

Yeah, why bother. Sapper and Signals Officers don't need to do two years of "maths for engineers" at University, or learn any of that numbers and engineering stuff - after all, a decent Classics or PPE course, and they'll be perfect for specifying the next generation of Engineer vehicles from Abbey Wood, or managing HM's cyberwarriors...

(See the occasional post from @Sarastro on the delights on Signals Officers with little background in what they manage)

 
Eldest is bang on the money. Push him towards some psychology and perhaps the Army Reserve as an interrogator as well, the soft stuff is far, far more important than any of that technical rubbish, there's always a geek around if you need one, the critical skill is interpreting suit to T-shirt and vice versa. Be the man in the conversation looking at everyone else's shoes.
Ooooh, they do the long course as a reservist? Joining his paternal grandfather's Corps would amuse, I visited their local ARC recently and it was quite impressive (maternal grandfather was a dropshot).

For youngest, dangle Eur Ing at him and mention the mandatory language part. Remind him that if he's just going to be doing engineering, he'll top out at mid-range salaries and increasingly specialist but poorly compensated and insecure niches.
Stop describing my career profile :)
 
Because they might be kinky b**tards who actually enjoy it...

Yeah, why bother. Sapper and Signals Officers don't need to do two years of "maths for engineers" at University, or learn any of that numbers and engineering stuff - after all, a decent Classics or PPE course, and they'll be perfect for specifying the next generation of Engineer vehicles from Abbey Wood, or managing HM's cyberwarriors...

(See the occasional post from @Sarastro on the delights on Signals Officers with little background in what they manage)

During my time as a Sapper officer, engineering graduates were in the minority. Many were barely numerate; when subjected to the “rigours” of Civil Engineer Wing, their eyes glazed over. Engineering competence has not been a prerequisite for success for decades. Indeed, the Corps has tended to treat its professional engineers as second class citizens.
 
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During my time as a Sapper officer, engineering graduates were in the minority. Many were barely numerate; when subjected to the “rigours” of Civil Engineer Wong, their eyes glazed over. Engineering competence has not been a prerequisite for success for decades. Indeed, the Corps has tended to treat its professional engineers as second class citizens.
Sadly, the 'cult of the generalist' is alive and kicking at all levels and across the majority of branches within the Army. As a signals / CIS specialist within the RMP, I was at best regarded as an oddity and at worst with hostility. In fact, when I came off the Sgt - SSgt board in 2006 in order to fill a role in an RHQ as the BOWMAN System Manager, one of the sub-unit CSMs told me to my face that I should never have promoted, as I'd been out of mainstream policing since 1998.

However, on the next exercise he came to me cap in hand as neither he nor his driver could make the BOWMAN fit in their Lanny work; oddly enough I had no one spare to assist him for about two hours. Odd, that!!

Thing is, it wasn't just those of us within CIS who were looked down upon; those in the QM and MT worlds experienced the same - not quite "one of us".

Just to add that I now work for BAE Systems as a training solutions engineer on a major RN program. My work package involves the Marine Engineering Department and having delved into the Role Performance Statements of both the Marine Engineering Officer and the Deputy Marine Engineering Officer, I was amazed at how much practical work they are expected to undertake. I gather it's the same in the Weapons Engineering Department too; but they're not on my slop chit.

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During my time as a Sapper officer, engineering graduates were in the minority. Many were barely numerate; when subjected to the “rigours” of Civil Engineer Wing, their eyes glazed over. Engineering competence has not been a prerequisite for success for decades. Indeed, the Corps has tended to treat its professional engineers as second class citizens.
I was a non-graduate sapper Officer and I think most of us thought at the time that the Civil Engineer phase was dreadfully dull. In particularly the quantity surveying course.

Given that we expected to be going out in a seven day blaze of glory in WW3, somewhere in BAOR, I’m sure that was human nature.

It wasn’t helped that the whole 8-month course was, we all thought, terribly run. There was no sense of training objectives (it was before ‘systems approach to training’ was bought in. The whole ‘you’re just “YO” culture’ didn’t help. Treated like children, we tended to behave like children.

The only bit that I think they got ‘just right’ was the demolition phase.

Shame because in later life I found much of the civil engineering training really useful. I wish I still had a copy of ‘Basic Bridging’...

All in all I think it was a bit of a wasted opportunity.
 

Rab_C

War Hero
Sadly, the 'cult of the generalist' is alive and kicking at all levels and across the majority of branches within the Army. As a signals / CIS specialist within the RMP, I was at best regarded as an oddity and at worst with hostility. In fact, when I came off the Sgt - SSgt board in 2006 in order to fill a role in an RHQ as the BOWMAN System Manager, one of the sub-unit CSMs told me to my face that I should never have promoted, as I'd been out of mainstream policing since 1998.

However, on the next exercise he came to me cap in hand as neither he nor his driver could make the BOWMAN fit in their Lanny work; oddly enough I had no one spare to assist him for about two hours. Odd, that!!

Thing is, it wasn't just those of us within CIS who were looked down upon; those in the QM and MT worlds experienced the same - not quite "one of us".

Just to add that I now work for BAE Systems as a training solutions engineer on a major RN program. My work package involves the Marine Engineering Department and having delved into the Role Performance Statements of both the Marine Engineering Officer and the Deputy Marine Engineering Officer, I was amazed at how much practical work they are expected to undertake. I gather it's the same in the Weapons Engineering Department too; but they're not on my slop chit.

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
In the days of the Artificer, RN WE Officers we’re not hands on (practical) at all. The WEO ran the department with the DWEO as his whipping boy, day to day Engineering was controlled/monitored by the Charge Chiefs. Now that the RN have diluted the skill set of the WE Senior Rates the Officers may well have to be more hands on but that’s progress for you.
 
In the days of the Artificer, RN WE Officers we’re not hands on (practical) at all. The WEO ran the department with the DWEO as his whipping boy, day to day Engineering was controlled/monitored by the Charge Chiefs. Now that the RN have diluted the skill set of the WE Senior Rates the Officers may well have to be more hands on but that’s progress for you.
I can't comment about that - a bit before my time - I can only speak about my experience of slotting in new training into the Project FARADAY system of competencies. What did strike me though was that comparing an MEO / WEO with say, a REME OC, is a bit like comparing apples with oranges in terms of engineering.

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I can't comment about that - a bit before my time - I can only speak about my experience of slotting in new training into the Project FARADAY system of competencies. What did strike me though was that comparing an MEO / WEO with say, a REME OC, is a bit like comparing apples with oranges in terms of engineering.

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RAF probably sitting in the middle?
 
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