The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Government funding gives go-ahead for £10 million technology hub
New facilities incorporating one of the largest optimised underwater technologies and diving inspection training tanks in Europe are set to be built in Middlesbrough, UK. The new TWI Technology Centre (North East) will offer state-of-the-art training in welding, inspection, non-destructive testing and underwater techniques alongside full research and consultancy services.
The new centre’s reinforced concrete dive tank is set to be ten metres square and seven metres deep.
Research and technology and training organisation TWI already has a facility in Middlesbrough where divers are able to learn underwater inspection techniques and gain CSWIP qualifications, and it is anticipated that the organisation will move from this current location to the new centre in early 2016.
The GB£10 million development will be located at the new Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park (TAMP), a 13-hectare site adjacent to the River Tees. As well as offering diver training, the new facility – made possible thanks to funding allocated under the UK government’s Growth Deal scheme – will house an advanced welding and inspection training facility, TWI’s Low Carbon Energy Manufacturing Technology Centre and its Offshore Wind Validation Centre, the first facility of its kind in the UK.
Christoph Wiesner, chief executive at TWI, says: “We are looking forward to working with Middlesbrough Council and Tees Valley Unlimited to realise the TWI Technology Centre at TAMP. “The unique facility will ensure industry has access to the training and examinations necessary to develop skills and foster strong economic growth, and allow us to work more closely with new and existing businesses to develop advanced fabrication technologies for the energy sector.”
With a floor-space of around 3700 square metres, the new centre will be significantly bigger than the one it replaces, which was built for TWI in 1992. The dive tank at the current facility has been used to train hundreds of divers over the years, with a team of experienced instructors taking candidates through their paces.
One of the first members of TWI’s team of instructors, and the man who masterminded the design and construction of the diving instruction facility, was Jim Sheppard, who sadly passed away on 23 September 2014.
Jim began his career as a diver in the Royal Navy in Plymouth, progressing to become an inspection diver and dive supervisor whilst working for Solus Schall in Nigeria, Anglesey and offshore in the North Sea. He went to City University in 1990 as a diver for the underwater inspection trials being carried out by UCL, and became the dive supervisor for the trials from 1991 onwards. In particular he organised staffing and supervision for all the trials for the ICON and TIP projects, the results of which are still used for the assessment of inspection intervals in offshore structures. He attended BINDT London Branch meetings and for one meeting provided a demonstration of the underwater methods. During this time Jim became involved with setting up the initial training courses for the ACFM method.
Jim moved to TWI Middlesbrough in 1995, where he took part in the redevelopment of the CSWIP course content and ensured that the facilities matched the requirements. At this time he also became a CSWIP examiner for the underwater techniques. He took overall control of the training for ACFM, became one of the first Level 3s in the technique and delivered courses worldwide. At the same time he developed the CSWIP ACFM qualification.
Throughout his life Jim loved playing badminton; he also followed cricket and after his retirement enjoyed time on the golf course. Jim leaves his wife Norma, a daughter Nicola, and two grandchildren.