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Andrew Stevenson is one of the latest additions to BPE’s team in the North West. Here, in the latest in our ‘five minutes with’ feature, we get to know the biochemical engineering senior consultant a little better.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
A: A Chef.
Q: How did you get into process engineering?
A: I was always making things at home and liked biology, chemistry and physics at school. It led me towards biochemical engineering and biotechnology in the mid 80s when it was just starting to emerge as an avant garde industry.
Q: What do you think we can do to encourage more young people to get into engineering?
A: There has to be a new value proposition for young people as I think there is a fundamental cultural issue that needs to change in the UK. In my experience, in Europe or the US engineering commands much more respect, and this is reflected in career expectations of engineers there. Ultimately, engineering is competing for the best candidates, so they need to feel confident that it offers the best career choice to them overall.
Q: How big of an issue is productivity today?
A: We are operating in a global market, so productivity needs to keep ahead of the competition. IT tools aid this, but ultimately customers expects quick responses to issues 24-7.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: Mark Cavendish because he has competed at the highest level for many years and obviously enjoys what he is doing.
Q: How is process engineering changing with the evolution of technology?
A: Much of the old manual systems are being automated which speeds things up and aids things like design scenario evaluation. However, this also means that the workforce can be remote from the customer, presenting both an opportunity and threat from cheaper labour in the emerging markets. The evolution of CAD and 3-D modelling is very useful for visually communicating designs to end-users and ensuring their needs and incorporated into designs.
Looking forward, artificial intelligence is starting to come into play and this could revolutionise everything from process design to manufacturing systems by automating many repetitive tasks.
Q: Where do you go to find out about latest innovations in engineering?
A: I find trade shows and exhibitions the best to see the trends and interact with the technology suppliers. In addition, industry press such as Biopharm International and publications by organisations like the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University are good sources of information.