Show Form

News search

News Menu:

Sign up to our Engage eNewsletter

Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Ben Alan Kuchta CEng FIGEM AMInstLM MIAM

Published: 18/01/2022

Education and qualifications:
NVQ Level 2 Gas Installation and Maintenance – Stephenson College
NVQ Level 3 Electrical Installation, Design, Maintenance and Fault Finding – North Warwickshire and Hinckley College

Job title:
Innovation Engineer

National Grid Electricity Transmission

What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
It all started with my father who is a gas fitter with over 40 years of experience. Over his career he’s become so proficient at so many different things that as a child I couldn’t help but look on in amazement that this one man could seemingly build or repair anything. I would often run to the opposite end of the house with his tools and some scrap material and try to copy him.

As I grew up, I found myself really enjoying the practical elements of Physics, Engineering, Music and Maths. At this point, both my parents pointed me towards an engineering career. I found myself enrolling onto an NVQ Level 3 in Electrical Installation, Design, Maintenance and Fault Finding course followed by a being awarded with an NVQ level 2 in Gas Installation and Maintenance in 2010.

Soon after getting my qualifications, I set up my first business and a little over five years later, with the help of a brilliant mentor at the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM), I started my journey toward becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) via the Technical Report route.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I am currently an Innovation Engineer within National Grid Electricity Transmission. I’m responsible for leading and developing innovation across network and business resilience including the decarbonisation of our own operations which involves some very interesting work with hydrogen powered fuel cells, synthetic fuels and materials to name a few.

Can you describe a typical working day?
My typical working day changes depending on the project or initiative I’m leading. At the moment I start quite early in the morning and read a daily media summary. This is a collection of curated press clippings relevant to the company and our operations. I also spend some time reading through information sent in by the professional institutions that I’m a member of.

I then link up with colleagues from across the company to discuss progress and set out some daily objectives. From here I’ll sort through emails, ensuring everything is dealt with before attending meetings throughout the day. These meetings are varied but quite often there are a number of project management calls, updates on maintenance initiatives and leading collaborative strategy development sessions.                                 

At the end of the day there’s a range of data and information that needs uploading to project files and I’ll often check in with a few colleagues to wrap up any outstanding actions before heading home.  

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
I think that one of the biggest challenges in innovation is the pace at which technology and its application is changing. The ability to keep skills up to date and be conversant across a broad range of topics is imperative. During my career I’ve had the fortune of being part of a few professional engineering institutions and have developed my own trusted network to address this challenge.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I enjoy working with my colleagues as they have impressive, unique skills and a set of personal and professional experiences. It is very enlightening, and these working relationships have certainly helped me along the way. The interaction with others is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed throughout my career.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
A great professional achievement of mine was in 2019 when I was awarded the Young Person’s Achievement at the Gas Industry Awards. I am extremely honoured to have won that award as it came at the end of years of immensely hard work. It meant so much to me as a business leader, young person and engineer having the entire company and my industry peers stand by me, sending in nominations and cheering me on.

Additionally, my election as a Fellow of IGEM at the start of 2020 is my most recent high-profile accomplishment, one that came about for my significant contribution to the industry. It’s something I’ve got framed on the wall in my office at home to remind me of what it’s taken to get to this point.  

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
A significant part of my engineering career has been underpinned by self-directed learning. I wanted a way to signpost to people that my knowledge and experience was at a high level - equivalent to a Masters degree - via the Technical Report route and peer review.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
I've gained trust, recognition and validation and this has allowed me to create or chase new opportunities. In addition to this, registration gives me access to a trusted network of experts and the latest up to date information relevant to my field of work, which is critical when it comes to creating novel products, processes and services.  

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
My employer benefits from my registration as they have a well-informed, skilful, and talented engineer that is internationally recognised for their standard of professional competence and ethics.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
I would advise anyone to seek out a mentor to support their professional registration, keep a good Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record and a journal of your work.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
In five years’ time I aim to be a senior leader within a FTSE 100 business, delivering the future of energy alongside a brilliant team.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I do have quite the interest in classic cars and I have a very busy workshop at home where I tinker away on projects. I currently make tools to keep my skills sharp, every now and then I repair or rebuild machines and I like to set myself an engineering challenge every few months where I look to fabricate something from scratch.

I also volunteer at IGEM as a Trustee, Chair of the Engineering Technician Working Group, Member of Council, the Midlands Section, Membership Committee and Finance committee. I’m a mentor and help other aspiring engineers as well as acting as a scrutineer for applications. I’m also a Member of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) and an Associate Member of the Institute of Leadership and Management (InstLM).