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Member of the Month
Jackie Davies CEng FIHE MSc BSc
- Wednesday June 23, 2021
Principal UTMC Engineer at Bristol City Council
What inspired you to become an engineer?
Nothing! I pretty much fell into the work area by accident; luckily I found I really enjoyed it.
What made you join the IHE?
I joined in 2017 as a member, with the intention of applying for chartership.
What contributed to your decision to become registered professionally?
I wanted my expertise to be recognised and to develop further. The application process assisted me to achieve this as I measured my performance against the Engineering Council’s metrics. I used this process to identify and address weaknesses in my engineering ability and obtain accreditation at the end.
Has registration benefited your career and did this have any benefit for your employer?
I believe that it’s been beneficial for both myself and the council. I am able to demonstrate that my engineering ability has been assessed and approved by my peers. My employer is able to show they have chartered engineers within the team, which is beneficial to the council’s reputation. My employer assisted me during the application process.
Describe your role or position within your workplace
I run the traffic control service for Bristol City Council, including both the UTC/ SCOOT system and the intelligent transport systems. I manage the network and its systems to maximise efficiency, dealing with equipment faults and completing or overseeing projects that improve the network.
Can you describe a typical working day?
There isn’t a typical day. I have to balance a range of conflicting projects and activities, while managing live incidents, and equipment or software faults as needed. I frequently intend to work on one thing, but end up doing something else. As a result, I have a very agile approach to delivering priorities and am guaranteed lots of variety as I work to keep Bristol moving by solving whatever
problem is trying to ruin our day. It’s a juggling act, but always interesting and challenging.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The variety in the work, the challenge, and applying my problem-solving skills to deliver something that makes a difference to people. As the principal technical expert for the council, I regularly have to work out problems that I’ve never encountered before. Investigating these issues and developing solutions to them is enjoyable.
Do you have a professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment you could tell us about?
Over the last few years I’ve been approached by other engineers and asked where they can obtain SCOOT training and support. Aside from supplier training and consultancy support, there’s not
much practical skills training available to help new starters within highway authorities to become skilled in UTC/ SCOOT. As a result, I’ve spent the lockdown period producing an online, selflearn training course with the support of JCT Consultancy that will hopefully address this training gap. I’m hoping this will benefit other highway authority staff with their personal development and traffic signals work.
What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
The pandemic is likely to place further pressure on local government finances at a time when we face an unprecedented environmental situation. If funding drops, the maintenance of our assets will become more challenging, which will have a negative impact on our ability to manage them and their corresponding environmental impact. This and the skills shortage are the biggest challenges I can see.
Do you participate in any other career-related activities?
I am passionate about sharing knowledge, especially around helping local authorities to develop in-house UTC/ SCOOT expertise and to better understand how to design signals to work well with SCOOT. In addition to the UTC/SCOOT course I developed with JCT, I also worked with both JCT and the IHE to deliver a ‘SCOOT for Traffic Signals Design’ section into their respective advanced traffic signal design courses. I occasionally provide consultancy support to highway authorities via Integrated Traffic Services LTD.
What do you like about the industry and what would you like to see change?
I like that it’s a small industry where it’s easy to make contact with other professional to get advice or share knowledge. I value events like the JCT Symposium and Traffex, as they support networking and knowledge sharing. The small nature of the industry does carry the risk of skills being lost as people retire or leave.