Christopher Jones is the first BEng Professional Engineering graduate in the UK to achieve Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status through the flexible work-based ‘Engineering Gateways’ programme. The BEng Professional Engineering (Power Systems) programme is the first of its kind in the UK and has been offered by Aston University in Birmingham since 2010.
Engineers study on a work-based, blended, distance learning basis with attendance at Aston only for examinations. This is an Engineering Gateways programme which provides a pathway to professional registration for working engineers who do not possess the full exemplifying academic qualifications, who are interested in becoming professionally registered and are unable to commit to full-time study. With the support of their employer, employees are able to demonstrate the required UK-SPEC competences for professional registration at the same time as meeting the learning outcomes for an academic qualification.
The framework for this route was developed as part of a government-funded initiative 'Gateways to the Professions'. The Engineering Council led the work which has been delivered by universities, Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) and employer representatives.
Christopher’s career began in the Royal Air Force, where he embarked on an electrical maintenance apprenticeship. He achieved an NVQ3 and then went on to complete an HNC and finally an HND in Mechanical Engineering. After eight years, Christopher continued his successful career by joining National Grid, his current employer.
He started studying at Aston University on the Foundation Degree in Electrical Power Engineering and graduated in 2010 with a Distinction. He then joined the BEng Professional Engineering (Power Systems) programme and graduated in July 2012 with a First Class Honours. He is the first engineer in the UK to graduate at Bachelors level from an Engineering Gateways degree and then go on to achieve IEng status. Throughout this time, Christopher has been supported by his employer, National Grid. As well as studying at Aston, Christopher also undertook training within National Grid and was awarded a NEBOSH certificate and also became a Senior Authorised Person (SAP).
Christopher said, “The combination of National Grid’s practical training, combined with Aston University’s theoretical study has allowed me to become a well-rounded engineer, with a detailed understanding of the electrical environment around me. The knowledge obtained has enabled me to become registered as an Incorporated Engineer, and provided foundations which will eventually allow me to advance my experience and knowledge for Chartered Engineer status.”
Ken Trapp MIET, Team Leader, Landulph Team, National Grid said, “The BEng programme has provided National Grid with an enthusiastic and very technically knowledgeable engineer. The challenges faced within the field engineering teams require a range of advanced skills and knowledge to ensure we can maintain our exceptional standards of security of supply. In order to achieve this, our engineers need to possess the ability to deal with equipment and technology that is up to 50 years’ old as well as embracing the latest in technological design and engineering. I consider the training and knowledge instilled in Christopher through the BEng programme, along with his enthusiasm for engineering, a very real asset to our Substation Team within National Grid.”
Dr Nagi Fahmi, Programme Director, BEng Professional Engineering said, “The achievement by Christopher Jones of becoming the first IEng registrant through the first UK BEng Professional Engineering programme is a reward to all of us at Aston University. Christopher worked hard and focused his learning by linking studied theories to practice. Christopher’s success has demonstrated the value of this unique type of programme, producing a high calibre professional engineer. Aston, guided by the Engineering Council’s ‘Gateways’ initiative, has adopted an innovative way of engineering education that aims to address the shortage of graduates in the UK engineering sector by offering work-based programmes tailored to suit industry’s needs. The result is a win, win, and win situation; win by the individual, win by the sponsoring company and win by UK PLC.”
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET Chartered FCIPD, Institution of Engineering and Technology, who has led IET support for the Engineering Council’s Engineering Gateways Programme over the last five years said: “It gives me particular pleasure to see a high voltage engineer from National Grid become the first graduate of a Bachelors Gateways programme to be awarded IEng registration.”
Jon Prichard CEng FICE FInstRE, CEO of the Engineering Council said: “We welcome Christopher’s achievement as the first Incorporated Engineer to be registered via the Engineering Gateways programme and congratulate all involved, namely Christopher, Aston University, the IET and National Grid. We are sure that he will be the first of many to take up the opportunity to ‘earn while learning’ as the programmes develop.”
The Bachelors and Masters Professional Engineering programmes are proving attractive to many engineers who might otherwise not have the opportunity to achieve professional status. More than 120 individuals in a range of companies are now enrolled on the programmes at eleven higher education institutions, with numbers set to grow. 14 professional engineering institutions have now signed up to support these programmes and nine candidates have already been registered as Chartered Engineers. Further details are available at: /education--skills/engineering-gateways