This is the first in a series of posts in which I am going to reflect on my route to becoming an engineer. These events happened around forty years ago so inevitably my recollections probably have more in common with folklore than reliable history. Nevertheless, I hope they might be of interest.
I was good at mathematics at school but also geography and when required to specialise at the age of sixteen would have preferred to study mathematics, geography and perhaps economics. However, my parents and my school, had other ideas and decided that partnering chemistry and physics with mathematics would give me more opportunities in terms of university courses and careers. Physics was manageable but Chemistry was a complete mystery to me. I left school shortly before my eighteenth birthday and joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman. I went to Dartmouth Naval College where, as part of my training to become a seaman officer, I was taught to march, navigate, fight fires, sail yachts, drive motor launches and fly helicopters as well as spending time with the Royal Marines. After my basic naval training, which included time at sea on HMS Hermes, I went to University sponsored by the Royal Navy with a free choice of subject to study. So, I chose Mechanical Engineering because I thought as an officer on the bridge of a ship, perhaps eventually in command of a ship, it would be useful to understand what the engineers were talking about when they asked for a change in operations due to technical difficulties. At that stage in my life, I had no intention of becoming an engineer, but with hindsight it was my first step in that direction.