Jack Egerton

Our interviewee for this instalment of People in NDE is Jack Egerton, an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) researcher in non-destructive evaluation at Imperial College London…

Briefly describe your current role.
I am a Research Engineer at Imperial College London, in the final stages of completing a four-year Engineering Doctorate (EngD) scheme through the UK Research Centre in NDE (RCNDE) in sponsored collaboration with EDF Energy Nuclear Generation.

What does your job involve day to day?
My job is to improve the ultrasonic NDE of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe joints found in EDF Energy’s nuclear power stations. I have worked with physical experiments, test set-ups and simulations.

Daily, I am most productive when I am running multiple tasks simultaneously. For example, my more advanced and older computer simulations have become increasingly automated over time, so I can usually apply a systematic ‘run-debug-run’ procedure to them. The implementation of less advanced concepts or ideas requires more attention at the early stages, through more critical and analytical input. Such work will often happen midway through the day, once I believe I have made some good progress. The pencil and paper rarely come out before 3 pm and are used for afternoon ‘blue sky’ thought.

I find the meticulous approach needed for conducting accurate and reliable experimentation can be quite rewarding and I can now achieve the same reward from being equally methodical when coding.

What education/training route did you follow? What other roles/jobs have you had in the past?
During school and college, I worked for four years at Waitrose as a ‘jack of all trades’, filling in for absentees in the aisles, counters and checkouts. Then I came to London and completed an undergraduate Master of Science (MSci) degree in physics at Imperial College London. During my undergraduate course, I undertook two summer research placements at Imperial – one was about relativistic electrons and the other was about the influence of the sun on our climate. I then toiled with my Masters project, which was about fusion plasmas in tokamaks, such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). During my EngD, I was fortunate to be able to undertake a six-month placement with the offshore wind team at EDF R&D UK Centre. Here, I analysed vessel motion during crew transfer to the turbine ladders, as well as many other things.

Why did you choose NDE?
I have always been very interested in sound, waves and acoustics. Also, I believe nuclear energy is currently a crucial source of low-carbon energy, so the EngD in ultrasonic NDE for EDF Energy was a natural choice.

What would you consider to be your biggest NDE achievements and challenges to date?
Creating representative defects in HDPE pipe joints with Plasflow Ltd was very challenging because of the short time the melted pipe ends are exposed for. It took a lot of background reading of similar approaches and forethought to be able to produce the defects.

As my ‘main simulation’ advances it necessarily becomes increasingly complex, and therefore challenging, to progress. Of all that I have achieved in my EngD, I am definitely most proud of this.

Do you have any interesting NDE stories to tell?
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Torness Nuclear Power Station during a routine outage while NDE inspections were being conducted. I shadowed the auditing of a range of NDE inspections and was able to climb through most of the station and gain a better understanding of its structure and layout.

As EngD researchers, we attend several conferences and Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) courses, which provide us with great experiences too.

What changes, if any, do you foresee for NDE in the future?
I see that NDE is becoming increasingly quantitative and rigorous, in line with increasingly tough inspection requirements. With these new inspection challenges, new training challenges for technicians, operators and auditors will surely arise too. One thing that will remain constant in NDE is that NDE technologies shall continue to be an aid to sentencing, rather than the technologies themselves providing a decision.

How would you describe NDE/NDT to someone who knows little or nothing about it? How do people react when you describe your NDE job to them?
I have said countless times that ‘it’s like pregnancy scanning, but for cracks in pipes’ and friends and family have remained interested while I give a fuller explanation. A less direct opening could also work, though.

What is your favourite NDE technique and why?
Ultrasonic array inspection because it is very versatile and has much future potential.

What is your involvement with BINDT, if any?
I have presented our work at BINDT’s annual NDT conference in both 2016 and 2017. Also, RCNDE is an Associate Member of BINDT. For more information on RCNDE and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantitative NDE, visit: www.rcnde.ac.uk

Please get in touch if you have any recommendations for future interviewees or would like to be interviewed yourself. Contact the editor at ndtnews@bindt.org or email Maria Felice direct at mvfelice@gmail.com

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