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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Harout Taghilian BSc (Physics) CEng MIoA

Published: 24/01/2024

Education and qualifications:
Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control, Institute of Acoustics, United Kingdom
BSc (Physics), Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon

Job title:
Associate - Head of Acoustics at Ramboll Middle East






What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
Ever since I was young, I was interested in motorsport and especially in car racing. I had a dream that I would study mechanical engineering and open my own car tuning garage. Unfortunately, back in 2011 I had a car accident while racing and then I reconsidered my decision. Shortly afterwards I was approached by a local consultancy firm that specialised in architectural acoustics, and that’s how I ended up working in acoustics. While working at that small organisation, I realised that there is little knowledge or understanding in the local architectural acoustic market, so I started searching online where I can study acoustics, get a diploma and eventually become an Acoustical Engineer.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I am responsible for the acoustics team in the Middle East office, working on projects both in the region and in the Asia Pacific. I mostly work on high-rise buildings both residential and hospitality, and I just recently started designing sound stages along with postproduction spaces. In the past, I have designed several museums, auditoriums, hospitals, and schools. My day-to-day responsibilities include building long-term client relationships, coming up with new innovative design ideas, delivering sustainable projects, and training my colleagues and encouraging  them to further develop their skills.

Can you describe a typical working day?
Monday is usually the busiest day of the week and Friday the quietest. My day starts with reading emails, I then allocate different tasks to my colleagues, attend project workshop meetings, and do a quality assurance/quality control (QAQC) assessment for anything that needs to go out. During my lunch break, play 10 minutes of foosball in the pantry which gives me and my team some energy before we continue our work for the rest of the day.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Working in the Middle East requires you to be proactive. The project durations are extremely short and usually clients are looking to receive their packages yesterday. It is challenging to keep a work-life-balance but this is what I always try to manage, not just for myself but also for my team. In addition, acoustics is not a very well-known subject in the region, so sometimes I need to spend a lot of time and effort explaining to clients the basics behind a specific design.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
Working in the Middle East is what keeps my job interesting, there are always iconic and challenging projects coming up. Additionally, since I work in a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm, my colleagues from other disciplines help me to understand their design approach and why they design things in a specific way.  The diversity of people I work with also keeps me curious about different cultures and I enjoy connecting with a lot of people from different backgrounds.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
The greatest achievement in my career was becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng). Back in 2015, I wanted to enrol into a one-week short course provided by the Institute of Acoustics (IoA), UK. The woman from the education department at that time told me about a diploma course which I didn’t know about. This was something I never considered before but it was something that I couldn’t afford financially as I had no support and I was living in Beirut, Lebanon.  Well, as they say, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’, a year later, I got my Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control. Attending the laboratory sessions at the University of Liverpool was also something magical for me, especially coming from a humble beginning. Shortly after getting my  diploma, I was informed by the IoA that I can apply to become an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). Of course, there was some work that had to be done. Within a couple of months, I got the IEng title which made my family and I proud of my achievements.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
To be honest, growing up in Beirut, Lebanon and not having any engineers within my family, I never heard of IEng or CEng. It was only when IoA told me about it that I started digging into it. Since a lot of work and dedication was required to prove my competencies, I took on the challenge and wanted to achieve one of my life goals of becoming, not just an engineer, but a professional engineer. Now I feel very proud of my achievements.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
When I achieved chartership, I got a lot of positive feedback from my organisation, especially from higher management. I once again showed my passion about the work I do and my commitment. There are CEng’s in the management team who took the same  path a long time back, and now they understand more about my capabilities and, hopefully in the near future, I will be assigned more responsibilities where I can give back more successful results to my organisation and help my colleagues excel in their careers.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Innovation is happening faster and faster every day, and we all need to keep up to date with current technologies. For my organisation, having chartership was extremely important as it shows to our clients our competencies and commitment in innovation and creativity. In addition, since it is widely recognised around the world, it helps during tending stage of projects.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
I highly encourage anyone considering professional registration to do it sooner rather than later as life gets busier and busier. Initially the process might look difficult or time consuming, but at the end of the day it’s worth all the hard work as it boosts your confidence and makes your proud of your achievements.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
In the coming years I want to have a large team full of bright minded engineers. I want to be a role model and encourage my team to further develop their skills and even have them mentor new joiners. I also want to write some papers on acoustics and expand my knowledge, not just in acoustical engineering, but have a wider understanding of different engineering disciplines, as projects will always require full coordination and inputs from different disciplines. I also want to get more involved with sustainable design as global warming is known to be the greatest threat to humanity and explore new ways of designing projects with less impact on the environment.

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?
Since I’m interested in cars and motorbikes, I watch educational videos on mechanical and electrical engineering daily. Obviously, this has nothing to do with my profession, but it is something I love to know more about  .

I sometimes receive an invitation to comment on the summary of a PhD thesis for students studying acoustics. I do this passionately and provide my honest review and opinion by filling out the template document requested by the faculty.