Creating PSR Project and Design Engineers

In an exclusive supplement produced with Glass International in the run-up to Glasstec, Les Gaskell, Technical Director, explained PSR’s successful policy of recruiting young, talented engineers.

PSR Engineers

When PSR first set up its Technical Services Division to supply complete forehearth and distributor systems in the early 1990’s it recruited suitably experienced engineers from the glass industry to develop, sell and supply these new products as well as fulfil customer requirements for on-site engineering services to supervise the installation and commissioning of these systems.

However, as our customer base increased in this specialist area, the need for more engineers to fulfil our project management requirements, as well as on-site service expectations, meant PSR had to recruit and train the engineers we needed ourselves as they were not readily available in the glass industry, and experienced engineers recruited from other industries were not adaptable to our needs.

One of our most successful methods of recruiting suitable engineers over the years has proven to be the employment of students studying for an engineering degree for which an industrial placement year is part of their four year degree course.

The idea for employing placement students came from an engineer we recruited in the mid 1990’s as a Project Engineer who had completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University and had also done a placement year with United Glass (now O-I Glass) as part of the course.

We commenced employing placement students in 1999 and up to the present time we have employed 44 students over these 23 years with two additional students commencing their placement year with us in August, 2022. Each year we tend to have between two and four students.

Placement students are employed as Technical Assistants to augment our team of engineers responsible for the design, manufacture, supply, installation, commissioning, servicing and development of our forehearth and distributor systems.

They carry out work as required in our drawing office, assisting our design engineers in designing 2D and 3D layouts for projects. In the workshop they assist in the assembly; checking, testing, labelling and packing of superstructure bracing and cooling control steelwork, combustion equipment, temperature control equipment and systems and stirrer systems. We also provide them with the opportunity to work on site with our engineers in the supervision of the installation, set-up, testing, warm-up and commissioning of the systems so they see the final product producing glass. As typically 95% of our business is export all over the world this invariably involves them travelling abroad.

Over the year, students gain a broad perspective of the work we do from design to commissioning and experience the working conditions inside a glass factory. In turn, we gain an insight into the student’s character, interests, abilities and potential.

As a minimum, placement students fulfil the requirements for their degree and leave us with good industrial experience and an insight into working in the glass industry. For students that show particular interest in our work as a possible future career, we maintain contact and sometimes sponsor them for their final year; particularly if they carry out their final year project based on a subject to further develop our systems.

We have recruited 14 PSR engineers over the years in this way. Their one year placement experience allows them to hit the ground running when they start full time employment at PSR. Of the four ex placement students still working at PSR:

  • Tom Foster (2008-9) is now our Project Sales Manager with 12 years’ service and responsible for Project Management and Sales.
  • Bryon Doan (2011-12) with nine years’ service is now our Project Development Manager responsible for Project Design and Development and for general recruitment and supervision of our placement students.
  • James English (2015-16) with five years’ service is currently a Project Engineer.
  • Fahim Zwan (2019-20) is a new Project Engineer with one years’ service.

With many of our Technical Services personnel having been placement students themselves, they are always involved in training placement students. This has helped us develop our in-house training and ensure engineers gain the specialist knowledge and experience they require. It has also helped us to successfully recruit and train new Project and Design Engineers that had not benefitted from a placement year at PSR.

Left to right in the top photograph: James English, Bryon Doan and Fahim Zwan discussing a project design at PSR.

Click here to read more about the PSR team.