david lindsley FIET; Hon Fellow, Kingston University
… communicating engineering
By 1976 I was Technical Director, leading 200 engineers working in the US and UK. These teams designed equipment and systems that were used in multi-million pound projects worldwide (a typical control desk is shown at the left). Throughout my time with Bailey I worked to bring the company into the modern era - I conceived a range of control products that one of our German competitors said was “the first time I felt seriously challenged by Bailey”. In 1980, I initiated a capital-expenditure justification for a large-scale computer-aided design system that vastly increased our capability to produce work rapidly. The expenditure was approved and the system installed with the full agreement of Trade Unions who had initially opposed it. This system was pivotal in winning us a contract in the middle East where fast delivery was vital. Our Japanese competitors said it would not be possible for anybody to meet the deadline, but with CAD we did it!
Admittedly, if you’re going to take up engineering you have to tackle ‘difficult’ subjects such as mathematics, physics and science. But in doing so you stretch your brain, and when you become an engineer you will find yourself doing a job that is really stimulating and worthwhile. What’s more, it can be a lot of fun!
I started my working life as an engineer, then turned to writing. (I had written some technical books before, but now I decided to become a novelist!) I had enjoyed being an engineer - it had shown me the world and led to meeting some pretty amazing people. I wanted to show what went on in this business that we all depend on but few appreciate. In particular I wanted youngsters to see how exciting and rewarding an engineering career can be. So I set about writing novels with an engineer hero - a role model if you like. I included a measure of glamour and excitement. I wanted to show that an engineering career is a very interesting one: tough - or rather, challenging. I still stand by that.
In my time I have been privileged to meet many VIPs. On the left I am demonstrating a control desk to the Duke of Kent. (Incidentally, I met him again recently and he gave me a long hard look - he must meet thousands of people every year and in the interim my beard has turned white, so it’s hardly surprising that he had trouble recognising me!) On another occasion I met Margaret Thatcher: that was when I was a judge for a Design Council competition for which she awarded the prizes.
MY WORKING LIFE ...
In 1962 I joined Bailey Meters and Controls (at that time a part of the Babcock and Wilcox Group) as an applications engineer.