We recently caught up with Nick Elderfield, Managing Director of DHI UK and MSc ECE 2000-2001 alumnus at University of Southampton. Here’s what he had to say:
When did you graduate and can you tell us a bit about your experience at Southampton and afterwards?
I completed a degree in Oceanography at Southampton and decided to enrol on the MSc ECE course, graduating in 2001. I had had a great experience in my undergraduate studies, but decided I want to develop my skills further so that I could guarantee a job in the industry. The ECE was ideal, as it offered a blend of science and engineering skills tailored for the industry, and provided great industry links. I liked that the course covered both the hard engineering aspects, while exploring other soft options and environmental issues. We carried out a group project in one of the modules, working as a team to solve a problem. I found that very enjoyable, and it is, in fact, what I do now on a day-to-day basis. For my dissertation, I got a placement with an engineering consultancy and that lead to a job with them upon completion, which was great. The skills from the course also allowed me to become a chartered engineer with the Institute of Civil Engineers. I have since worked in engineering in Australia, the Middle East and am currently the managing director of DHI in the UK.
What does a day in your working life entail?
My day can be incredibly varied. Running a company means I have a lot of other functions including Admin and HR, but I still get involved in the daily nitty-gritty science which I do really enjoy.
Your company has employed several of our graduates, what is it about ECE graduates that you find attractive?
We are very engaged with the MSC ECE program, both through regular exchanges with the researchers and students through joint project supervision and internships, as well as employing gradates. The ECE students have the relevant technical skills required for the daily demands of our job, a good understanding of the science and a broader technical knowledge, gained through practical experience of working with industry through the course. This allows them to develop integrated projects with engineers and environmental scientists to come up with considered solutions to meet the demands of our clients. The potential rewards for current students is that they are more aware of what the industry needs, and so are immensely more employable.
Where do you think the industry is headed, how should that inform students?
There is increasingly a great deal of data out there, measured or modelled, and the industry is increasingly in need of people who can make rational scientific sense of the data, in a concise form that the client can understands. Data is becoming key.