Rising Stars: 'I'd like to help set strategies for nuclear power in the UK'

Rich McEachran

Benjamin Mills-Wallace (Credit: Will Amlot)
Benjamin Mills-Wallace (Credit: Will Amlot)

This week, we are featuring some of the best and brightest engineers aged under 35. Together, they are shaping the future of the profession, and the world.

Read part one here.

Ross O’Brien

Reliability engineer at a BP refinery

Age: 26. Location: Gelsenkirchen, Germany

It was while at university that Ross realised the enjoyment that can be had in working with others to solve engineering problems. It’s a lesson he’s taken with him into the workplace and it’s also his mantra. At the end of his career, he hopes to have used the mantra to have had a positive impact on the energy industry and encouraged more young people into the profession. “The energy challenge is the challenge of our generation,” says Ross, and young engineers have the right skills and aptitude to help tackle it.

Benjamin Mills-Wallace

Senior structural integrity engineer at Rolls-Royce

Age: 30. Location: Derby

Why were you inspired to get into engineering? 

At high school, I enjoyed studying both maths and physics, but I thought that studying either at university would be too theoretical. Engineering seemed like the perfect balance between the two subjects, as well as being a lot more practical. So I applied to study aerospace engineering at university and was lucky enough to get accepted at the University of Cambridge. During my time there, I realised it was definitely what I wanted to pursue a career in once I graduated.

What’s one of the more interesting projects you’ve had the opportunity to work on? 

I’ve been at Rolls-Royce for seven years and, in this time, the most exciting project I’ve been involved in has been as part of the engineering team to design a new generation of pressurised water reactor, PWR3. The PWR3 nuclear plant is the first new design in over 20 years and will deliver a huge improvement in terms of safety, integrity and availability, while at the same time reducing the through-life costs.

What STEM-promoting or volunteering activities have you been involved in through the IMechE?

I’ve volunteered a lot of my time supporting the IMechE through various committee and board positions. Currently, I’m vice-chair of the Young Members Board, responsible for bringing the views of young members from their specific areas to the forefront of discussion. For a number of years now, I‘ve also volunteered at the national Big Bang Fair held at the NEC in Birmingham – this event gives young people the chance to hear from inspiring engineers and scientists from across the UK and find out about the opportunities available in STEM.

What do you hope to achieve in your career? 

Working in the nuclear sector has been both interesting and challenging, and I could easily see myself continuing my career in this sector, especially with the exciting prospect of new-generation nuclear plants now being planned and built in the UK. Ultimately, I would like to move more into a leadership role, helping set strategies for nuclear power in the UK.

Nilla Karlsen-Davies

Chief technical analyst at Haleys Business Advisers

Age: 28. Location: Preston

Nilla has always been passionate about the environment, something which is reflected in her degree choice – an MEng in sustainable engineering – and Phd research into the factors that can affect the performance of regenerative pumps. In her current role she supports businesses across various industries with R&D claims and provides advice to help them with technology decisions. She aspires to continue working with businesses to access, implement and utilise energy efficiency and renewable technology.

Rebecca Grant

Doctoral researcher at Loughborough University

Age: 26. Location: Loughborough

Growing up, Rebecca was constantly amazed at how things around her were manufactured and how design could be used to improve the future. Today, she’s undertaking a PhD, for which she received an IMechE research scholarship in 2015, exploring operator subjectivity within cell and gene therapy manufacturing. “Human factors can play a huge part in quality, engineering management and productivity,” says Rebecca. She aims to become a leader in human factors metrology and believes that regenerative medicine-based manufacturing will become “a powerhouse of the future, improving quality of life for many”.

Christian Young

Manager, EPSRC Future Metrology Hub at University of Huddersfield

Age: 32. Location: Huddersfield

Christian’s path to engineering is a slightly unusual one. Like other young and aspiring engineers, he enjoyed building and fixing things when growing up, but he decided to enrol on a music degree. At the same time, he was working as a maintenance technician in a warehouse and, when he realised he didn’t actually want to become a music teacher, switched to studying engineering. Today, he manages various research programmes at the Future Metrology Hub. His career ambition is “to bring an engineering mindset into a senior management role, preferably in a research or technology development environment”.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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