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Rob Eastwood: Chief Engineer

_Z5A9438cMike Smith Photo

Chief Engineer Testimonial

I am the chief engineer for deck equipment and have been at SMD since I graduated from university in 1987 (34 years ago). My degree was a sandwich course, requiring me to work in industry for part of the course. I had my first industrial placement at SMD, when there were only 8 employees, and we worked from Alan Reece’s dining room and converted garage.

My current role is managing risk both commercial and technical on all deck equipment and telecoms sales proposals. Directing the engineering team with the design route for a contract and technical authority on SMD deck and telecoms equipment.
I am currently the longest serving employee at SMD.

The thing that attracted me to SMD and has made me stay for all these years is the people who work at SMD, the culture of “believing we can do this”,” we are all in this together” and “we want to do the best job we can all of the time”.

The engineering achievements over the years and the number of firsts SMD has achieved, and others have followed. Being involved from the start of a project, through to the design, manufacture, assembly, testing, vessel installation and sea trials gives a feeling of ownership and sense of achievement, you don’t feel like just a small cog in a large wheel.

There are many memorable moments from over the years, from the early days of SMD as we tested equipment on Cresswell beach, to prove the plough worked and the customer getting stuck in the trench made by the plough and him declaring that the plough had definitely made a deep trench!

Seeing one of the directors climbing on a table and kneeling using his arms and body to try to explain how the skids on the plough worked to a group of 20 Japanese clients.

SMD famous lunches when the entire company (all 16) sitting round the table eating lunch updating everyone on what they were doing and Alan deciding that everyone had been working hard so we should go to Scotland skiing for the weekend, this was a Wednesday and we where going to go on the Friday night, which gave only a couple of days to sort everything out, bearing in mind some of us had never been skiing before!. On arrival at the slopes after getting kitted out, Alan declared that he would teach us non skiers how to ski. This consisted of showing us a parallel turn then taking us to the top of a blue run and saying okay, off you go! We learned fast with only minor injuries as he announced that the next day we would go on the intermediate red runs.

Seeing the first A-frame, I designed, passing its load test on the vessel.

Seeing equipment, you have had a significant role in the design of, translated from idea’s, sketches, and drawings to being in front of you in the flesh and then witnessing it in action, offshore achieving what it was designed to do.

Working onboard a vessel with equipment on its sea trial, which always seems to be completed overnight and seeing the sun coming up over a flat calm sea, when you are exhausted but with a feeling of pride and satisfaction the equipment you had worked so hard on was now completed.

Being involved in some of the SMD firsts, Cable plough to bury telecoms cable subsea, pipeline plough to trench pipelines subsea, wide angle A-frame to be able to handle and tow the cable ploughs with the same wire. Largest and most powerful trenching ROV and it’s unique handling system. Deep water subsea mining system Nautilus.

Rob Eastwood

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