For the past three years, Darren has led the Welding Systems Integration team at TWI Ltd, a research and technology organisation with expertise in materials joining and engineering processes. It also houses the professional institution, The Welding Institute.
Working with new technologies
Darren leads a team that is responsible for assisting members with their digital welding and joining challenges, as well as setting TWI’s automation strategy.
“We apply innovations in digital manufacturing across a variety of welding technologies,” Darren explains. “For example, we could be working on artificial intelligence, automated machine learning, and digital twins (modelling and simulation). The main challenges come from translating a theoretical approach to a practical approach, which can be generically applied across different welding systems.”
As well as working with new technologies, Darren had the additional challenge of establishing his team, which was new to TWI when he first joined the company. His leadership steered the team in the right direction and, he admits, accelerated his professional development.
“The team has grown, alongside the number of projects we have won and are currently managing,” Darren says. “As the team has developed, it has given my interpersonal skills a chance to mature, alongside my technical skills.”
A stint in academia
Darren’s technical expertise is partly down to a stint in academia and research before joining TWI. It all started with an undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield, followed by a master’s at the same university in Electronics, Automatic Control and Systems Engineering.
Keen to continue learning, but also gain industry experience, Darren embarked on an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Systems at the University of Bath.
As part of his EngD, he undertook a research placement at Rolls Royce. “I created a mathematical model of one of their Linear Friction Welding machines that enabled fault detection and prediction,” he explains. “This model made it possible to reduce machine downtime and increase production efficiencies.”
Darren so impressed Rolls-Royce that they hired him after his EngDoc, tasking him with setting up a brand new, state-of-the-art production facility - the Advanced Blade Casting Facility.
Inspiring engineers worldwide
Alongside furthering his own career, Darren is interested in helping others make fulfilling career choices. As a student at the University of Sheffield, he mentored young people at local schools in Doncaster.
“This set off a spark in me,” he said. “I recognised that when you put in the effort to help others, it feels good. After that, while at Rolls-Royce, I joined in the STEM ambassador activities, speaking to students at local schools, colleges and universities.”
From there, Darren’s volunteering grew, as he set up and chaired a Young Professionals committee for the IET South Yorkshire Local Network and joined the IET Communities Resourcing Committee. He’s currently on the IET Volunteer Engagement Board, where he brings his experience of communities to develop our volunteer strategy.
Now that he’s a Fellow, Darren sees more opportunities to get involved in the IET. “I’m looking forward to engaging with other Fellows, networking and further broadening my perspectives as an engineer,” he says. “I’d also like to extend my reach as a volunteer by reaching and inspiring engineers worldwide.”
If you’re keen to get recognition for your professional achievements and play a greater role in our community, find out more about becoming an IET Fellow.