5 minutes with ECE alumnus James Burn

Hi my name is James Burn, I am originally from Bristol however having studied an undergrad in Civil and Environmental Engineering and then the ECE masters I have been working and living all around the world. I studied the year long ECE masters starting September 2013, I was particularly attracted to the core modules which the course offered and particularly enjoyed studying the sediment dynamics and coastal engineering classes.

Since finishing the ECE masters I travelled briefly surfing and kitesurfing in France and Spain while applying jobs with major marine engineering contractors. I secured a job offer with Van Oord and started work with them in mid-November. Due to previous experience and good luck I was allowed to skip their graduate training program and start work immediately as a project superintendent. I was assigned to a large 68km long dredging project in the North East Caspian, Kazakhstan. During winter when the sea was frozen solid and there were no operations I worked as a project engineer (2:1 work leave schedule). This work predominantly included: preparing operational management plans, environmental management plans, compliance with Kazakh & international laws and regulations and liaising with the client (TCO) to ensure the project was ready to start up when the ice melted. After the ice melted I have been working offshore as an environmental officer/superintendent focusing on environmental compliance and daily operations/logistical challenges (sewage, fresh water, food, fuel etc). Daily life involves working 7am until 7pm (often longer) visiting different vessels, holding toolbox talks, carrying out inspections, dealing with non-conformances/incidents etc for 6 weeks before returning home/travelling (1:1 work leave schedule). In the new year it is likely that I will be transferred within Van Oord to a different department and shall be installing offshore wind turbines in the North Sea.

My advice for current/prospective ECE students is that the course is great and well worth it (interesting, fun but also hard work)! The content is all extremely relevant while the degree is well respected not only in the UK but with international contractors as well.

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