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Member of the Month
Craig Roberts CEng FIHE
- Wednesday June 24, 2020
Craig is the senior product and application technology manager at Tensar International Ltd. His primary role is to act as both technical and product lead for Tensar’s uniaxial geogrids, which are used to form reinforced soil retaining walls and slopes for use in many sectors, including highways and rail. His job is to help colleagues and engineers to understand the long-established benefits of using such geogrids, which are proven through research and practice to deliver significant savings in terms of carbon footprint, time and money.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My answer is similar to most engineers. I always wanted to build, break, and fix things from a very young age. As I got older, I wanted to learn how to design and build things safely, so they didn’t break, and I didn’t have to fix them (as I often had to). As I progressed through school and higher education, I decided I wanted a career in engineering.
Can you describe a typical working day?
That’s difficult but five words probably sum a typical day up enjoyable, rewarding, varied, fast and challenging.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
The biggest challenge I often come across is getting commercial people at contractors to understand how using geosynthetics on highways delivers savings and that it is not just about reading a line item on a bill of quantities – they need to consider other factors. For example, the cost of a geogrid can be more than offset by the reduction in aggregate required, with the added benefits of reducing the programme, the number of delivery vehicles and whole project carbon savings. Unusual? I suppose working on projects in Wolfsberg, Warsaw and Wigan at the same time may seem unusual to some people.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I have always enjoyed both learning new things, which happens pretty much on a daily basis, and also training and teaching others about subjects I have some knowledge on.
Why did you join the IHE?
I wanted to be associated with a body that aligned with my career, and even though my current role includes more than highways, it felt like it was the right fit. I joined around 12 years ago at the FIHE level.
Is there a professional achievement that you would like to tell us about?
I have two. I was really proud to become a chartered engineer (it was a career goal) and to become the UK registered ground engineering professional.
In what ways has professional registration benefited your career?
It has allowed me to keep moving forward within Tensar. Registration of employees gives Tensar greater credibility. I am also encouraged to pass on my knowledge and give support to less experienced engineers, which I am more than happy to do.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Just do it! You should see it as part of your natural career path, not an extra. It guides you to becoming a better all-round engineer/technician and encourages you to look at your strengths and weaknesses, and where you need to focus on improvements. I would add that it is also important to set yourself further challenges once the process is complete, it can leave you with a strange feeling of ‘what now?’ after the hard work has been done. Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry 2020 is becoming a year that will never be forgotten. The UK construction industry is robust enough to bounce back, but there will be bumps and obstacles along the way that we will have to overcome together. It will be even more important in the future for our industry to work together to identify smart ways of working, and also to identify how to use our natural resources in ways that give best value for money and minimise our impact on the environment. In terms of projects, HS2 will not only bring benefits to the rail sector but should also be a boost to the highways industry, because of all the associated infrastructure needed, for the next 10 years. However, a bigger challenge will be to find enough people with the right expertise and experience to do the jobs required. We need to encourage younger people into our industry – they will become those people over time.
Do you participate in any other career related activities?
I am a committee member in the IHE North West branch, which a group of us helped to resurrect in 2018. This involves a number of annual activities, including CPD events, STEM events and similar. I also try and support colleagues through professional registration.