WOW, thanks a lot for all the votes guys. Really appreciate the support. I'll spend the money wisely
I went to an old grammar school in the Black Country, near Birmingham where I obtained 7 GCE ‘o’ levels. I then went to a local technical college and obtained a BTEC Diploma in Electronics Engineering. Following that I went to Coventry University, again to study Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
I have a BEng (Hons) Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and I am a Chartered Engineer (CEng)
After graduating I worked for the BBC for 4 years as an engineer. Then I jumped at the opportunity to work for the British Antarctic Survey and have been there ever since. I am in my 15th year now.
British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
Chartered Engineer / Programme Manager
Me and my work
I am leading a team of engineers and scientists who are trying to get to and take samples of one of the worlds most isolated ecosystems – a liquid lake buried beneath over 3km of Antarctic ice.
It has long been thought that there are lakes under the ice in Antarctica and that they contain unique forms of life. If true, the lake bed sediments (mud) will also probably contains clues to past climates and the history of Antarctica
One lake in West Antarctica, Lake Ellsworth, is a great lake for exploration. The lake lies beneath 3km of ice, is 10km long, 3km wide and up to 160m deep – about the size of Lake Windermere in the UK.
My team is engineering a special drilling system and set of probes which will let us get a sample of the water and mud from Lake Ellsworth by first drilling through the ice with hot water.
Everything has to be super clean (sterile) so that we don’t introduce any germs into the lake.
Although the drilling and sampling will take about 5 days, it has taken 3 years of engineering development to build the drill and probes and get them into Antarctica. My team will be camping at temperatures of -25 degrees Celsius for around 3 months in order to get these samples.
My Typical Day
No such thing!
In the UK (8 or 9 months of the year):
My role is to bring all the different parts of this project together and so involves a lot of preparation and planning. I hold quite a lot of meetings, work on engineering designs, plan logistics (how to move these huge chunks around the world), visit suppliers, etc. Every day is different and, as my team is spread out all over the country, I travel quite a lot.
In Antarctica (3 or 4 months of the year):
This is where I get to role my sleeves up and do some hands-on work. One day will be driving a Sno-Cat towing my equipment, the next I’ll be putting the drill system together with spanners in freezing temperatures. In Antarctica we have to be able to cope with many different skills and so I will also set up satellite and radio communication systems, help service the generators, cook the evening meal and shovel snow to melt for water.
What I'd do with the money
I’d quite like to support a voluntary youth group – I’m open to suggestions as to how.
I was involved in a voluntary youth group as a boy and it opened up a world of opportunities for me and really helped me to develop, both practically and socially. I am forever grateful to the leaders of that group for all the time and energy they gave. Through various projects I learned some real hands on practical skills such as welding, wiring a junction box and building a river-raft as well as softer skills such as planning and social interaction.
Knowing first-hand how difficult it is for leaders to raise funds for such a group when you are already maxed-out just running the group, I would love to pass the prize money in the direction of some sort of project that helped young people to develop practical engineering skills. These provide such a good foundation for future development.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Dependable, Resourceful, Interested
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Whitewater kayaking is pretty awesome, as is snowboarding.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Difficult to say. I was torn between engineering and art. Still am to be honest.
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Only once or twice – the teachers were far too scary back then.
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
What I am currently doing (The Lake Ellsworth Exploration) is by far the most interesting and challenging thing I’ve done.
Tell us a joke.
How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler! :-)