Thu, 25 August, 2022
TWI senior project leader, James Kern has joined the Materials Integrity Technology Transfer (MITT) team.
We took some time to catch up with James so he could tell us about his background and his new work helping to advance innovations in products, processes and services for the Tees Valley area.
Hi James, can you start by letting us know a bit about yourself – how you got into engineering and ended up joining TWI?
I was inspired by my dad to follow in his footsteps and become an engineer. I went to Sheffield University, where I studied engineering materials and then stayed on to complete a PhD.
My first job was as a metallurgist with a consultant engineering company in London (Sandbergs). We would regularly visit site and develop bespoke tests for different applications based on national and international standards.
I left there to work for Rolls Royce where I controlled the hot process for the manufacture of wide chord fan blades for jet engines.
After leaving Rolls Royce, I stayed in aerospace and was chief material scientist for APPH who make landing gear for aircraft.
I joined TWI as a hot joining material specialist before moving section to become an NDT specialist.
I’m now in the research innovation operations group at TWI, where I’m using my industrial experience to support SMEs and promote innovation.
What does your role entail?
I am currently working on the MITT project, where we are promoting and supporting companies within the Tees Valley area to increase their productivity and ultimately increase employment within the area.
My first contact with the MITT project was when I was asked to support the project using my expertise in NDT.
I enjoyed the opportunity of being able to share my knowledge and help people and leapt at the opportunity to join the project.
Now I identify SMEs that may gain benefit from input by TWI, then work with them to perform a short review of their requirements and identify which specialist within TWI would be best suited to support them.
I identify blockers that prevent them moving forward and use my experience to suggest ways they could be addressed.
The issues are very varied and no two visits are the same making it both challenging and enjoyable.
After the specialist has finished supporting the company, I re-visit them 6 months later to assess how their business has benefitted from the interaction.
Personally, seeing that I have been able to have a positive effect on businesses and enabled companies to increase employment, thereby directly having a positive effect on someone’s life, is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
What do you think MITT offers to organisations in the Tees Valley region?
Most companies within the Tees Valley area do not know the wealth of experience and knowledge within TWI.
Normally, a company would need to be a member of TWI to access this knowledge, however, the MITT project allows SMEs to have direct access to TWI with the costs funded by the ERDF at no expense to themselves.
All a company needs to do is invest time to interact with the project and any output is owned by themselves.
Why do you think it is good for the Teesside area in particular, and why should businesses get involved?
There is a disparity between regions, with the Tees Valley requiring support to reach its full potential.
The MITT project can help with levelling up the Tees Valley and improve the local economy.
Thanks for your time but, before we go, is there anything more you would like to add?
Please feel free to get in touch with me and I’m happy to discuss how we can help you.
The Materials Integrity Technology Transfer (MITT) project is part of the Tees Valley Centre for Materials Integrity Programme, which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020) and Tees Valley Combined Authority.