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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Lahiru De Silva MSc in Engineering CEng CMarEng MIMarEST

Published: 14/12/2023

Education and qualifications:
MSc in Engineering, University of Plymouth, UK
Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering, South Tyneside College, UK

Job title:
Surveyor, ISM/ISPS Auditor and MLC Inspector

Lloyd’s Register.





What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I believe that my father was the cornerstone of my career aspiration to become a marine engineer. He was a seafarer by profession who used to work in the ships engine room, and I saw him returning home after working on ships for many months. In the early days, I used to miss him a lot since he was away from home most of the time, but his stories about the ships and how they work always fascinated me. On the other hand, my mother filled in the gap when my father was away and mentored me towards the right path. I passed the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advance Level examination and joined Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College in Sri Lanka when I was 19 years old, where the foundation was laid towards marine engineering. I passed the third engineers exam in Sri Lanka and in perusing higher education opportunities, I went to the UK for further studies in marine engineering. I became a UK maritime and coastguard agency certified second engineer with excellent grades in all academic and engineering subjects.

As my goal was to become a marine chief engineer at an early stage in my career, I again completed the chief engineers’ examination as soon as the mandatory sea service requirements were fulfilled. I qualified as a chief engineer by the age of 30 and was the youngest in my marine engineering batch. At the age of 35, I joined one of the world’s leading classification societies as a Marine and Offshore Surveyor, thus achieving my goal. It is the broad application and continuous prosperity of the marine engineering field that excited and motivated me to fully dedicate myself to this profession.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I’m currently working as a Marine and Offshore Surveyor, Ship Inspection and Assessment Specialist and International Safety Management (ISM)/International Ship and Port Security (ISPS)/Marine Labour Convention (MLC) Auditor for Lloyd’s Register, a UK-based global professional services company that specialises in engineering and technology for the maritime industry.

My role as a surveyor is quite complex in terms of its scope. My primary job scope involves undertaking marine existing ship and consultancy surveys, marine new construction surveys, and marine material, equipment, component, and work approval surveys in line with internal procedures, accreditation schemes, legislation, and industry standards. I’m also authorised to conduct ship statutory surveys on behalf of the flag state administrations and issue mandatory trading certificates to the vessels on their behalf. It is also my responsibility to pursue Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and maintain a high degree of discipline, knowledge, and awareness.

Can you describe a typical working day?
Most of my working days consist of attending to ships or shipyards located at various locations in the country, with occasional work overseas. The beginning of a typical working day depends on the time that the client requires my attendance, so the working schedule is quite different to that of an office worker. Working time depends on the scope of the work, and some surveys and audits take quite a long time, as much as 18 hours. Once the job is completed, I return home and check my emails and plan for upcoming attendance requests. At the same time, I also manage to complete the final reports for jobs which were done earlier, or - before their respective deadlines. We have an office day once a week, where all office colleagues get together in the office to share knowledge, discuss technical matters, and have a casual chat about the previous week.  

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Ship inspections and surveys are inherently challenging and physically demanding. Some of the surveys require me to work inside the cargo and ballast tanks which are intrinsically hazardous. Working at heights and working over water is also challenging. I always ensure a proper risk assessment is carried out to mitigate the risks before commencing any job.

Time management is another challenge I face at work. Some ships are at a port or an anchorage for a limited amount of time and I must ensure the survey, or the audit is completed before the departure of the ship.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I enjoy working with multinational colleagues and acting as an authority to work on behalf of various governments. The diversity of technical issues is another aspect I like about my job.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I was elected as a committee member at the Society of Chief Engineers’ Marine, Sri Lanka, for the year 2019-2020, year 2022-2023 and as assistant secretary for the year 2023-2024. On top of my Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration in 2023, I also registered as a Chartered Marine Engineer (CMarEng) with the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST), in the same year.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
During the early days of my career, I came to know that professional registration is one of the most recognised ways of showing my achievement to the global engineering community. I worked with some great engineers who helped build up confidence in me to pursue professional registration. Professional registration or working towards it was also one of the entry requirements of my employer, Lloyd’s Register.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
I believe that professional registration has broadened the way I look at technical and personal issues and built-up confidence in me to seek new roles within the industry. It shows my technical and managerial skills to my employer and the rest of the global engineering community. I also have self-satisfaction from achieving one of my life goals and at the same time, I feel proud knowing that I now have more job opportunities in the industry.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Professional registration is a guarantee to my employer that I’m committed to my role and demonstrates my ability to accept even greater job responsibilities. Having employees who are professionally registered demonstrates the competence of the employer and increases the possibility of business opportunities from clients.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
My advice is to set professional registration as one of your life goals. It doesn’t matter what registration title (EngTech, IEng, CEng) you apply for as they are of equal importance at that stage of your career. What matters is how you build up your skills and competencies to achieve the next professional title.

I would also hope that the drive and the determination I have shown during my career will inspire others to set their own goals and achieve them during their professional careers.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I see myself as a senior surveyor and probably an area manager within the company. I also would like to seek new job opportunities wherever possible and keep enhancing my technical competencies and skills under CPD.

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’m a member of the IMarEST Nexus online community. I provide answers to various marine engineering-related questions from marine engineering professionals and students located all over the globe using my professional expertise whenever possible.