A summary of what is available now and in to the future

According to Wikipedia, one of the earliest notable events recorded about industrial NDT was in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, in 1854, in which a boiler at the Fales and Gray car works exploded, killing 21 people and seriously injuring 50. Within a decade, the State of Connecticut passed a law requiring annual inspection (in this case visual) of boilers. Things have moved on a lot since then, particularly in the past five decades, where we have seen NDT technology, applications and research reach a much higher level.

However, before 2007 there was still very little to get excited about in terms of the academic or vocational training opportunities that existed in the NDT sector. There were three options: PCN started in around 1988, the UK Research Centre in NDE’s (RCNDE) Engineering Doctorate scheme had its first intake in 2005 and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) ran an NDT apprenticeship, which concentrated solely on construction and had an output of NVQs that not many NDT employers in industry really wanted. This was not a lot for aspiring NDT operators who may have wanted to develop their career by gaining a wider knowledge of engineering principles, whilst being able to work with integrity and responsibility and understand the importance of what they were doing. A summary of what is available now and in to the future follows.

Personnel Certification in NDT (PCN)
PCN got off to a slow start but has now become the primary certification scheme in the UK. It is used worldwide and is regarded by many countries as the gold standard in terms of NDT training and certification. Its popularity is based on the consistency of its delivery and the very high standards that it demands. It is essential to British industry that these standards are maintained.

RCNDE Engineering Doctorate scheme
RCNDE has been running this scheme for 11 years and it provides an excellent opportunity for academics to develop their NDT career to the highest level. The Engineering Doctorate degree is a four-year research degree of equivalent academic standing to a PhD. The research engineers are based in a company where they carry out applied research on one or more topics of interest to the company.

The new supported (funded) apprenticeship model is called Trailblazer, which, as far as funding is concerned, will replace all existing apprenticeship schemes this academic year. BINDT has helped to develop Trailblazer apprenticeships since September 2014, which has resulted in two apprenticeships being fully approved, with another one on the way.

Other opportunities
With support from BINDT, the University of Northampton has developed a suite of NDT degrees, including a foundation degree, a BSc degree and a BSc honours degree. The foundation degree was available in September 2007 and the BSc degrees were available in January 2010. The foundation and BSc degrees are currently being developed into an apprenticeship, which will allow employers to apply for funding. A new initiative being developed by the University of Northampton, which is fully supported by BINDT, is an MSc called ‘MSc Advanced Industrial Practice (STEM) – by negotiation’. These proposed programmes of study are aimed specifically at those in positions of responsibility working in STEM-based disciplines who want to develop their expertise within their current profession.

These exciting opportunities will enable NDT personnel to develop their careers to the highest level.

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