When engineering equipment fails, the consequences can be severe or even catastrophic. Jan Croucamp has dedicated his career to ensuring the ongoing integrity and reliability of plants and equipment in the engineering services industry. He is a highly credentialed professional in the inspection engineering field in South Africa.

While maintaining his employment, Jan recently completed EIT’s 52810WA – Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering to formalize his 17 years of practical experience. He advocates for the importance of supplementing applied learning with theoretical knowledge in carving out a long term career in industry. He says he chose the course because it was most in line with the industry he is working in.

“This course gave me in-depth theoretical knowledge to my already in-depth practical knowledge — so it rounded me off nicely. The fact that it was online means you can work and still study no matter where you are. I literally studied in three different countries and did not struggle with any of my classes. The help and support you receive from the Learning Support Officers is life-saving.”

Jan has a wealth of practical experience in the industry. Still, he has been seeking opportunities to equip himself with the necessary knowledge to meet the challenges and demands of inspection engineering as the fourth industrial revolution continues to transform the profession.

“In this industry, sometimes certification outweighs qualification. Of course, you need to have some type of qualification to gain certification, but mainly, it is all to do with years of experience. I’m certified by the American Petroleum Institute, the International Institute of Welding, and the South African Institute of Welding,” Jan explains.

Jan remains passionate about the industry, even after 17 years of hard work. During that time, he has worked in the asset integrity field, performing inspections on pressure vessels, piping, storage tanks, and lifting equipment on refineries and chemical process plants. In almost two decades, he has learned the tools of the trade through a balanced approach of education and practical experience.

“There is always a problem to solve or damaged equipment to fix, and only engineering gives the solutions to these problems,” he says.

His daily responsibilities include evaluating NDT findings and identifying NDT methods. He also issues recommendations on items that need to be repaired and follows repair jobs from start to finish. He finds damaged mechanisms on equipment and evaluates the effect the damage has on the entire system. Moreover, depending on where he is in the world, he has to apply different kinds of inspection standards.

“A typical day will consist of verifying NDT reports, inspect equipment for damages, and following up repairs on pressurized equipment. I also work closely with engineering staff regarding the manufacturing and design parameters of pressurized equipment.

“Depending on the country you work in, you have to follow that country’s regulations on pressurized equipment. Most of the time, this gives you, the certified inspector, the right to keep equipment in service or remove it from service — if you feel it might put the public or employees’ lives in danger. It is an exciting job with a lot of responsibility that can cause you to be arrested if you miss something, and someone is injured due to your negligence.”

“The most fascinating developments in the industry are the remote inspection techniques that are now prevalent.”

He explains that new welding techniques have also arrived. Therefore, ongoing professional development is necessary to stay abreast of the changes that technology brings to the industry. His advanced diploma has served him well in that respect.

Jan explains he now finds himself at a crossroads and is pondering on what he should do next educationally. He is considering pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In the near future, he says he sees himself filling a technical manager or inspection manager role. Whatever he does end up doing, he wants to pass the torch on to the next generation, and influence them to take a step towards their engineering goals.

“I would encourage young people to pursue a job in STEM fields. STEM industries are the future and will be key industries that can sustain career growth.”

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