The Welding Institute


Case Study: Sophie Dawson EngTech TechWeldI

22 Jun 2023 8:45 AM | Anonymous

Sophie Dawson EngTech TechWeldI is currently a Nuclear Welding Inspector (Project Inspector) at Sellafield Ltd, having achieved her GCSEs; she chose to pursue a NWIT apprenticeship involving gaining her current HNC and CSWIP qualifications.

She talks us through her career in engineering, how she has benefitted from her current Membership and her thoughts on being an apprentice.

About You

My name is Sophie Dawson EngTech TechWeldI and I’m currently a Nuclear Welding Inspector (Project Inspector) at Sellafield Ltd. I achieved my GCSEs and then went on to complete an apprenticeship with my current employer (NWIT apprenticeship - Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician). This course involved gaining an HNC in Manufacturing Engineering, PCN Level 2 in DPI & MPI, 3.0 CSWIP and then the 3.1 CSWIP equivalent as a Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician working at Sellafield Ltd.

Which courses have you undertaken?

I have undertaken a NWIT apprenticeship (Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician), as well as CSWIP 3.0 and PCNs Level 2 in DPI, MPI and UT NDT testing techniques.

Please describe your current job role and responsibilities and your typical working day:

At Sellafield Ltd I am currently in the Major Projects team, this involves a client inspector’s role witnessing contractors’ work on various projects across the Sellafield site. My typical day-to-day role involves meeting with contractor inspectors for various companies and witnessing a percentage of NDT activities and signing up relevant inspection records, after reviewing the relevant procedures, qualifications, and materials. As well as the physical inspections, I also carry out documentation reviews for example quality plans and lifetime records for fabrications and projects.

Furthermore, part of my role involves using my Ultrasonic Testing PCN Level 2 qualification. I will sometimes carry out witnessing activities, or I will carry out the inspection activities myself for various projects across site; and I will produce relevant documentation for example reports for the projects.

These jobs can include lamination scanning, testing of welds and thickness checking surveys for pipelines. I have become harness trained within my job, working from height, confined spaces and using risk assessments appropriately for safe working.

When did you join The Welding Institute?

25th November 2020 after completing my NWIT apprenticeship.

Early Professional Membership

Why did you initially join The Welding Institute?

As I have completed the NWIT (Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician) apprenticeship with Sellafield Ltd, joining The Welding Institute was part of the completion of the apprenticeship, following an interview with a TWI panel. Renewing my membership with The Welding Institute was the obvious choice for me as the benefits included are relevant for my choice of career and I am confident that the Welding Institute will continue to support me throughout.

Current Membership

Becoming a Member of The Welding Institute and of a professional institution has many benefits. One of these benefits being that I can focus on my personal professional development within my career as it promotes continual improvement. The professional membership also strengthens my CV and gives me the option to network with welding professionals, to improve overall my knowledge and skills as I gain experience in my current field of work.

What membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?

Being a member of The Welding Institute enables me to have access to the job knowledge and information about testing techniques, which can be useful for my current position. To add to this, I will make use of these resources to help me when gaining further qualifications throughout my career’s development.

Apprentice Specific Questions

Why did you choose a career in engineering?

I was interested in engineering from school, enjoying subjects like maths, physics, and chemistry. I completed various work experience placements within the engineering sector, one company introduced me to welding and the quality inspection aspects of the job, which I enjoyed. From then, my eyes were opened to the opportunities, and then I went on to apply for an apprenticeship with a local training provider working for Sellafield Ltd within this field.

Why did you choose to undertake an apprenticeship?

I chose to apply for an apprenticeship because the benefits stood out to me. I liked the idea of training up in the relevant field, gaining experience on the job in various work placements, and being paid at the same time to do so. To further this, the apprenticeship I applied for offered me the chance to complete an HNC in Manufacturing Engineering, so the higher-level education stood out to me, as it was something I was interested in doing after I left school.

What’s one of your biggest apprenticeship highlights or achievements that you’re most proud of?

I was firstly proud to complete my apprenticeship successfully and gain my qualifications, which were, for example, my 3.1 Welding Inspector (NWIT) qualification, my HNC, PCN Level 2s and my CSWIP 3.0 qualifications - as well as earning my professional registration as EngTech and my TechWeldI Membership.

Throughout my apprenticeship, when working on different placements I was able to have the opportunity to find out what I would like to focus on, this being ultrasonic testing. After being offered the chance to learn about UT testing by a couple of my work placements, I began gaining experience in this field and therefore led to achieve my PCN Level 2 in ultrasonic testing methods – a qualification I’m also proud to achieve.

Future (Membership and Career)

What are your engineering aspirations?

I am aspiring to expand on my ultrasonic testing knowledge, as I am currently gaining experience using the NDT technique Phased Array. I am working with colleagues who have their Level 2 qualifications in the testing method and learning from them on how to use the equipment involved. I hope that this will lead onto more opportunities for me within my career if I gain this qualification and experience. As for my future membership goals with The Welding Institute, I would like to explore potential volunteering opportunities to overall contribute to my CPD and experience within this field.

Would you recommend membership with The Welding Institute?

Yes, I would recommend The Welding Institute for the reasons given above.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship in engineering?

I would say go for it! The apprenticeship I was on opened my eyes to many opportunities that are available to me, and the amount of experience you gain through working in a constant working environment alongside knowledgeable colleagues is definitely worth it.


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