University of Plymouth composites graduates

The two unique courses in composites engineering offered at the University of Plymouth School of Engineering are:

Graduates from the above courses, or their contemporaries who found employment in the industry, include:

Robin Chatterjee (1998 BEng honours graduate) was initially employed by Lotus Cars (Hethel, Norfolk), then Spectre Cars, TWR Technical Centre (Leafield - Oxon), MG Rover and Britax (Cwmbran).  He then moved from the United Kingdom to Mitsubishi Cars (Nagoya - Japan) and is now with Johnson Controls (Australia) working on automotive interiors for the new GM Holden.

Ian Gatehouse (1992 BEng honours graduate sponsored by Westland Helicopters).  Background in composite rotorcraft structures development and the British Experimental Rotor Programme (BERP). After further aerostructures experience with British Aerospace Military Aircraft and developing structural composite reinforcement options for Royal Navy surface ships & offshore structures with Devonport Management Ltd in the UK a sabbatical period to New Zealand has developed into permanent residency.  Following aerostructures analysis, design and project management experience at Air New Zealand and Boeing Australia Ian’s current position is Platform Engineering and Materials Research Leader at the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) Defence Technology Agency. He is currently leading the structural composites R&D programme for the NZDF and undertaking a part-time Masters Degree at the University of Auckland studying the characteristics of 3-D woven composite structures [06 December 2005].

Graham Halstead (1992 BEng honours graduate). After a period as Engineering Director at Caparo Vehicle Technologies (also known as Freestream Cars), Graham is now back with McLaren working on the 2011 F1 Car.

Dimitris Katsanis (1998 BEng honours graduate)

Dimitris designed bikes for the athletes of 11 national teams while studying for a BEng in composite materials engineering at the University of Plymouth.  Now he is working as a project engineer for the Advanced Composites Group in Heanor, Derbyshire, and has been involved in a variety of projects, including producing components for ejector seats on a fighter aircraft. For the past eight months, he has been designing part of the wing of a business jet, a project he will be working on for the next two years. He describes his work as "mentally stimulating, but challenging". He says: "It is difficult to come up with the right design the first time or even the second time, so you have to keep trying until you get it right."

As well as holding down a full-time job, Katsanis is studying for an MBA and runs his own business designing bikes. He is also currently working with the British team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Previously he designed bikes for the British cycling teams at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and at the Athens Olympics in 2004. The first bike he completed was featured on BBC's Tomorrow's World in 2002. While testing Katsanis's bike on the programme, the British cyclist Chris Hoy beat his personal best by a significant margin. Later that year he became Commonwealth and world champion in the 1km event. Since then, more medals have been won on bikes designed by Katsanis, including two gold, one silver and one bronze in the Athens Olympics.

Before becoming an engineer, Katsanis was part of the Greek national cycling team, later taking over as assistant coach. "I decided on engineering because I have always been good with my hands and in finding solutions. I also felt I could make a good living."  Katsanis was approaching 40 when he left university, but that has not held him back. His advice to mature students and graduates is: "Define clearly what you want and go after it" [Interview by Adeline Iziren, The Guardian, Saturday 12 November 2005].

In December 2006, Dimitris left his job with Advanced Composites Group to become self-employed primarily as Specialist External Consultant to UK Sport and British Cycling.

Sarah Patreane (1994 BEng honours graduate - née Bucknell) is currently at Airbus UK based in Bristol as a Materials and Processes Engineer - Composites. "Whilst at Plymouth, I completed an HND and a degree, as follows: HND Mechanical and Production Engineering then BEng (Hons) Composite Materials Engineering. Studying composites probably helped me to get my first job at BP (Manufacturing Engineer at BP Chemicals, Aerospace Composites) as I already knew something about the subject when I applied. From there, I moved to Airbus and I am still here 13 years later! I initially worked as a manufacturing engineer in the composites research programme and, following a stint in metallic research, I moved to Materials and Processes, where I have worked primarily in the composites group. Although previous work experience takes precedence over qualifications at some point, I certainly believe that studying composites helped me in the early part of my working life as there were not many graduates who had specifically studied composite materials at the time".

Mark Rowe (1991 BEng honours graduate) "Gaining a degree in Composites Engineering at Plymouth has enabled me to work in some of the highest profile companies in the UK, and the World. Because of the demand for composite engineers and the skills gained from the course, I have been able to find work on everything from aerospace engines, major structural sections of airframes, to multi-million pound racing yachts and luxury cruisers.  Although I work as a stress engineer, the overall depth of knowledge of composite materials that the course has given me, has been invaluable, especially the appreciation of manufacturing methods. Learning hands-on, how the material is formed is especially critical when trying to determine how a £5 million structure will behave.  The in-depth tutoring from Plymouth has allowed me to accomplish my dream, and now I have my own business, Arrowmek Consultants Ltd, engineering composite structures for the world’s biggest aeroplane manufacturers" [28 January 2004].  I have given up the contractor life and am now Deputy Chief Engineer, Airbus CPD Activities, Single Aisle Analysis, for QuEST Global Engineering Limited (was GKN Aerospace Engineering Services until last December) in Weston super Mare [02 April 2012].

Timothy Stanhope (2002 - BEng ordinary degree, 2004 - BEng honours degree) "Since finishing a BEng in Composite Materials Engineering in July 2002 at the University of Plymouth I was offered a job working for Westland Helicopters Ltd. in Yeovil, Somerset. My current position is Materials Engineer working within Rotor Systems Materials Engineering. Job roles within my current position include dealing with production and technical issues, which arise primarily with the manufacture of composite helicopter main rotor blades, also materials testing and development. Background knowledge of composites manufacturing, testing and analysis techniques gained whilst at the university has proved invaluable and often results in new ideas about how to solve problems that arise.  For a significant part of my time at this company I have also been working within the Rotor Systems Stress Department. Engineering knowledge gained whilst at the University helped me to understand the specialist techniques and methodology in use. Statistical techniques covered as part of the course have proved to be useful tools for analysis of both coupon and full size component test results and often provide the basis for conclusions drawn from the results" [22 January 2004].