Theo Vincent

Our interviewee for this instalment of People in NDE is Theo Vincent, an NDT apprentice at Rolls-Royce plc and an Affiliate member of BINDT…

Briefly describe your current role in NDE.
I am a second year NDT apprentice at Rolls-Royce plc, working within the civil aerospace sector of the company. My day-to-day job involves gaining experience in a wide variety of NDT techniques. This can range from using fluorescent penetrant to test a turbine blade for surface-breaking cracks, to using ultrasonic immersion tanks to examine the structure of different composite panels.

What education/training route did you follow?
I completed A-levels in maths, chemistry and German and opted to do the specialist science apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce instead of taking the conventional university route. This has enabled me to gain hands-on experience alongside completing a degree part-time.

My apprenticeship also runs according to the new Trailblazer scheme. This new style of apprenticeship requires that I obtain three Level 2 qualifications within three years, which will allow me to apply for Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration. This will be a stepping stone towards my final goal of becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

However, Rolls-Royce also offers the Level 6 NDT Degree Trailblazer scheme, recently launched by BINDT, which lasts four years and involves obtaining one Level 3 qualification alongside an NDT degree. At the end of this scheme it is possible to apply for Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status and work towards CEng.

Why did you choose NDE?
Upon starting my apprenticeship, I had two options available to me: laboratories (materials science) or NDT. I decided to opt for the NDT route as it included gaining professional, internationally-recognised NDT qualifications and also offered a mix of practical and office-based work.

What would you consider to be your biggest NDE career challenges and achievements to date?
The challenges I have faced within NDT include getting to grips with new techniques, as the learning curve can be steep, especially for the more complex techniques. My biggest achievements to date include my success in passing five Level 2 courses this summer, as well as completing the first year of my foundation degree. I have also recently completed my first technical report for Rolls-Royce, which was on the examination of debonding in composites. I found this challenging but also rewarding.

What changes, if any, do you foresee for NDE in the future?
An increasing number of aerospace components involve composite materials, so I believe techniques such as conventional ultrasonic testing, X-ray and bond testing will become more widely used, whilst the use of magnetic particle inspection will be reduced, as this is only useful with ferromagnetic components.

NDE is rarely considered a ‘hot topic’ and does not receive much media attention – what do you think about this?
I think this is definitely a problem, as NDT plays a critical role within aerospace. Without NDT, it would be impossible to determine whether or not parts are safe for service.

How would you describe NDE/NDT to someone who knows little or nothing about it?
NDT is essentially testing a component to see if there are any flaws within it, without altering the structure or composition of that component.

What is your favourite NDE technique and why?
My favourite NDT technique is ultrasonic testing, as I have an interest in materials and enjoy seeing how sound can be used to investigate the structure of a component.

What is your involvement with BINDT?
I have recently been accepted as an Affiliate member of BINDT and I am also completing my foundation degree in NDT, which is recognised by BINDT.

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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