Steve Baldwin

Our interviewee for this instalment of People in NDE is Steve Baldwin, who is Technical Director at PTS (TQM) Ltd and sits on the BINDT Membership, Qualification and Education (MQ&E) Committee…

Briefly describe your current role
My current role is Technical Director, part owner/shareholder and company Level 3 at PTS (TQM) Ltd. We provide non-destructive testing and quality assurance to a variety of sectors, including nuclear, oil & gas, petrochemical, water, power generation, mining, building & structural and fasteners. I am the key point of contact in our company for technical issues and support, for all our engineering staff and customers.

What does a typical work day involve?
Due to the varied nature of my position, my day-to-day duties are diverse and ever-changing. For example, I am involved in contract review for forthcoming tenders for work, including meeting with customers for detailed technical review of project requirements to enable accurate quotations and support for any technical queries they may have. Other responsibilities include the production of bespoke, contract-specific NDT procedures, utilising modern techniques and equipment, providing Level 3 support for our clients, customers and engineers, surveillance auditing and vendor assessment on behalf of customers and offering welding engineering support and knowledge. My day-to-day work also includes much hands-on Level 2 work, both in-house and on-site.

What education/training route did you follow? What other roles/jobs have you had in the past?
After I finished school I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in sports studies at the University of Southampton and it was during this study period that I decided that I did not want to pursue a career in this industry. In 2004, I took an opportunity to change my career path and began working in NDT. From here, I completed my Level 2 PCN qualifications in various methods and then subsequently progressed to completing my PCN Level 3 qualifications in ultrasonic and radiographic testing. During this period, I completed the NDT degree course at the University of Northampton to further my knowledge and understanding of NDT and its allied processes. I have become a member of both BINDT and The Welding Institute and achieved Incorporated Engineer status with the Engineering Council. I am currently working towards Chartered Engineer status. I am also studying to complete the International Welding Engineer (IWE) Diploma by the end of 2017.

Why did you choose NDE?
My father, Dave Baldwin, has worked in the NDT industry for over 35 years and has successfully owned and managed the company I work for now. I had often carried out some part-time work through my teenage years, helping out at weekends and assisting in various NDT tasks, however I had never really considered the idea of pursuing a career in NDT. It was only when I was looking for a career change that I considered NDT. It was the variety of the day-to-day work, the technical involvement and the endless potential for further learning that really drew me to this industry.

What would you consider to be your biggest achievements and challenges to date?
My biggest NDT career challenges have been adapting myself from working solely at a technician/engineer level to that of a company director. It can sometimes be difficult to balance my duties as a technician/engineer and all the duties that are associated with me being part of senior management at a busy company. My biggest achievements have been completing the NDT degree and also my Level 3 PCN qualifications.

Do you have any interesting NDE stories to tell? Any highlights of your career?
There have been many interesting highlights throughout my career, from carrying out inspections on subsea mining and exploration vessels and inspecting high-integrity stainless steel welds for the nuclear industry, to working at a consultation level on large structural projects such as the Crossrail project and Wembley Stadium. The view from the top of the arch at Wembley Stadium, looking down at the pitch below and across London, was something that not many people get to see – and I was getting paid for it! I have also worked in many countries throughout Europe on a variety of projects.

What changes, if any, do you foresee for NDE in the future?
I can see that the industry will become more heavily regulated by standards and qualifications. Already there has been an increase in the importance of gaining experience prior to achieving qualifications. I feel that it will be more important for companies carrying out NDT to have been accredited to specific standards and to be associated with institutions and governing bodies. This has already happened in certain areas of the steel industry (ie CE marking) and I think it can only be a good thing for the NDT industry.

NDE is rarely considered a ‘hot topic’ and does not receive much media attention – what do you think about this?
I do not see this as a problem at all. NDT is a necessary requirement for a lot of projects throughout the world; the fact that it is not in the media can be a good thing. Generally, when things are reported in the media they are associated with bad news or incidents.

How would you describe NDE/NDT to someone who knows little or nothing about it?
I usually describe NDT as similar to medical processes used in hospitals (ultrasound, X-ray, etc), but applied to inanimate objects and metals. NDT is there to make sure that products, structures, welds, etc, conform to a design specification or acceptance standards.

What is your favourite NDE technique and why? If you could inspect any structure/component, what would it be?
My favourite NDT technique is ultrasonic inspection. I find the physics and the effects of different materials very interesting. I enjoy developing techniques for various geometries and materials and looking for ways to overcome potential difficulties that may be encountered. I think if I could inspect any structure it would be either tall buildings or bridges. I like working on tall structures as you get to work in places that some people would never get the opportunity to or want to!

What is your involvement with BINDT?
I am a Member of BINDT and currently sit on the Membership, Qualification and Education (MQ&E) Committee. I enjoy the responsibility associated with this role; it is very interesting to be part of such an influential committee. I like the idea that I am helping to grow the NDT industry by supporting our Institute.

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

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