What do an Ancient Greek mathematician, a Renaissance artist and an industrial chemist have in common? It isn’t the start of a geeky joke, but all three have been voted on Twitter as among the top 20 engineering heroes of all time.
The recurrence of polls such as these demonstrate our drive to identify role models in public spheres. This was a theme picked up by Petrofac Group Chief Executive Ayman Asfari at a speech he gave recently at the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) to honour the young role models in the making – the Academy’s Rising Stars, which included two Petrofac engineers.
Ayman, who was elected as one of 59 new Fellows of the RAEng in 2014, says: “Good engineers have consummate technical ability; but great engineers are also aware of the political, social and economic environment in which they work. To do all of this requires cultivating a broad set of skills that will not only create great engineers, but also great engineering role models.”
He believes that it takes a much wider skill set to become a great engineer than it did 30 years ago. “Today, engineers need to understand how their part of the project fits within, and adds value to, the whole, and they adapt accordingly to ensure optimum impact,” he says. “This task is particularly acute in the oil and gas industry where extracting hydrocarbons is becoming increasingly complex. As a result, engineers must be able to balance technically and commercially innovative solutions, be responsive to their clients, while at all times maintaining a focus on safety, the environment and local community well-being.”
Newly-appointed president of the RAEng, Professor Dame Ann Dowling emphasises the societal role of the engineers who were appointed as Fellows: “Our newly elected Fellows bring an enormous breadth of expertise to the Academy, widening our collective scope and knowledge. I know that they will all make significant contributions to the Academy’s activities in their time as Fellows and we look forward to working with them to create benefit for society through engineering.”
It is this breadth of expertise, and the need for creativity that is emphasised by many organisations involved in encouraging a new generation of engineers to make careers in a range of disciplines, whether civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical and computer engineers. This is particularly important at a time when reports continue to outline a growing shortage of engineers in the UK, which could influence the speed and scale of economic recovery.
“A vibrant and growing engineering profession is vital for the long term competitiveness of British industry,” says Ayman. “It is imperative that we have the vision to invest in the next generation of talent by attracting the best and brightest to engineering, and offering them an exciting and rewarding career path.”
“This is something we are very focused on at Petrofac, where engineering talent is our core asset – we employ over 7,000 engineers around the globe and we have invested in our own Petrofac Academy to ensure that the professional development of this talent pool is actively managed from the start of their careers.”
“Our continued support of the Royal Academy and its Rising Star Awards demonstrates the value and emphasis we place on developing and recognising the achievements of the next generation.”