Education & Training
The education of those engaged in NDT can take many forms and can start from various levels. When the diverse methods of NDT, in its widest sense, and its manifold applications are considered, it will be seen that entrants to the profession can come from numerous directions. Science subjects and mathematics are the basics, as they are in all engineering, and proficiency in written expression is essential - manuals and procedures need to be unambiguous and results of testing must be reported in a clear and unequivocal way.
Given these essentials, entrants could join straight from school and through professional training take up a career as a practitioner. Alternatively, entrants could go on to obtain a BTEC or SCOTVEC certificate in engineering by part-time or full-time study, or obtain a degree in a pure or applied science or in engineering. Others may find that later in life, their career turns in a new direction from an associated discipline towards NDT.
It is often said that NDT is a secondary discipline - testing the fitness of a finished artifact or some component which will be incorporated into a product. Secondary it may be, but it is also essential as a safety-critical inspection tool. It is not enough to detect a flaw; there are other considerations. How significant is the flaw? Is the item still fit for use? Will it deteriorate? Is the flaw likely to occur elsewhere in similar items? Is the flaw serious enough to warrant the withdrawal from use of all these items? Can it be prevented from recurring? If so how? NDT specialists need more than competence in NDT methods; they need to know the materials they are testing, how they are made, their characteristics, the effects on them of use and ageing, and the manufacturing techniques when the materials are used.
Similarly, in Condition Monitoring and Diagnostic Technology (CMDT), the ramifications and benefits are enormous. Not only is it safety-critical but its use enables rectification of an incipient fault before a catastrophic failure occurs. Not only can the physical catastrophe be avoided, but also the financial catastrophe of a major breakdown at the worst possible moment - Saturday night in the printing press of a Sunday paper, or an aircraft engine on take-off!
Those engaged in NDT and CMDT should be ready to cooperate with designers and production staff so that they know the capabilities and limitations of NDT and CMDT, and can ensure that the product can be tested and monitored satisfactorily and easily.
Non-destructive testing cannot be studied in isolation. It follows therefore that it should form a part of all related engineering subjects which can be assembled in the BTEC National and Higher syllabi. To this end, the Institute’s Membership, Qualification and Education Committee has devised units to fit into the National and Higher National Certificates. Of course, NDT and CMDT courses are not available at all colleges; they are provided to meet demand, and demand can fluctuate for economic and political reasons. More advanced courses are available at some universities, though they also are sensitive to demand.
The Institute takes a keen and active interest in NDT and CMDT education and the Technical Secretary is particularly concerned with this aspect of the Institute’s activities. The Institute’s involvement in Practitioner training through the accreditation of training organisations is an important aspect of the Institute’s work.
As a learned society through the ECUK which is also dedicated to ensuring that engineers enhance their knowledge to keep pace with developing technology, the Institute encourages all engineers to participate in Continuing Professional Development (CPD).