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Nick Cowling

Nick Cowling

Following three enjoyable years at Cardiff University in which I obtained a Physics Degree, the role of Standards Officer in the Technical Department at the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM) came up.

IGEM is a chartered professional body, licensed by the Engineering Council, serving a wide range of professionals in the UK and the international Gas Industry through Membership, events and a comprehensive set of Technical Standards. The Standards play a vital role in ensuring Gas Infrastructure from the beach to the appliance is installed, operated and maintained correctly.

Transferable skills

The versatility of a Physics degree and the University's reputation greatly assisted me in the application process for this role. The main job responsibility is the production and maintenance of the IGEM Standards which have been around since the 1960's. The role is unique in that I have to deal with experts in specific topics to come with standardised approaches which everyone in the Gas Industry can understand and follow.

As with every process there is sometimes two (or more) approaches and differences of opinion can occur, however with the problem solving skills acquired when completing a physics degree, I have had the opportunity to use these in practical situations.

As well as maintaining and supporting the Gas industry in its current form, IGEM is looking at new areas of work such as Shale Gas, Hydrogen, Biofuels, Carbon Capture and Storage and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This provides the chance to be involved with Technical Researchers and assisting them in reaching tangible conclusions.

I also represent IGEM on various Industry Groups and have had the opportunity to visit sites to better understand the innovative work being carried out by individuals in the Gas Industry.

Further studies

In my three years at IGEM, I have been fully supported in further developing my skills and I will start a part time MSc in Fire and Explosion Engineering at Leeds University.

In applying for the course, two things were essential for me to be accepted on the course - a physics degree from Cardiff University and the academic staff at the School of Physics and Astronomy. This course will provide me with advanced training that in turn will enable me to obtain specific experience with recognisable and transferable academic qualifications.