Engineering Insights with Brian Rousell

Engineering is a dynamic, varied field in which engineers are required to adapt to a wide range of environments and execute creative solutions; with Shoreham Port’s Engineering department being no exception. Below we interview Brian Rousell, Director of Engineering who highlights the unique challenges his skilled team tackle within the maritime environment and provides an insight into the world of Engineering.

Brian, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule today. Can you start by telling us about yourself, background, and your current role?

I am currently enjoying my second spell of working at Shoreham Port, having started in 2009 originally and working elsewhere for a few years from 2015.  I have lived in Hove for over 20 years and have worked as a civil engineer for over 25 years.  Having worked in several sectors of the construction industry I can certainly say that maritime is my favourite due to the variety of challenges faced every day.  I am now leading the Engineering Team at the Port, an exciting and rewarding role.

A port certainly sounds like a unique environment that must create equally unique challenges. What challenges do you have to face in this specialised environment?

Working in a world of weather, tides and a busy industrial landscape with centuries of history is what makes the job really fascinating.  One day we are installing state of the art technical controls on our assets and the next we’re trying to work out how to get the most out of structures that were constructed over 150 years ago!

That’s definitely varied! Can you tell us about a particularly challenging engineering project you've worked on at the Port, and how you overcame the difficulties it presented?

In 2011 we changed the west gates on the main commercial Prince Philip Lock. When we took the old gates out for an interim inspection they almost fell apart, meaning we had to work really hard to prepare and install the spare gates in double quick time.  The tides and weather almost conspired against us but with an all-round team effort we had things going again a week later.

Working against the weather sounds like a real challenge. Can you tell us about any exciting updates within the Port’s Engineering department?

Since my return to the Port, the team’s management has been reorganised and boosted by the promotion of our ‘discipline’ leaders, who manage specific areas and projects.  I have been really pleased by the can-do attitude and professional approach all the team continue to show as we develop our capabilities.

Protecting the environment is a hot topic right now within the maritime industry and beyond. What steps are your department taking to ensure the protection of our local environment?

We work closely with our colleagues in the Property and Marine teams to protect and enhance the environment.  When specifying and supervising new-builds or refurbishments we always look to reduce waste, recycle materials and incorporate renewable energy generation.  In the Marine environment we’re very conscious of using the best, most sustainable materials, including our tropical hardwoods and oils and lubricants.  We work closely with the Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Natural England and English Heritage at all times to preserve and enhance our environment.

In what ways do you collaborate with other departments within the Port?

Our work is always crossing over with our colleagues in Operations, Property and Marine as we maintain most of the assets that keep the other departments running.  Whether it’s paving or shed repairs, building maintenance & upgrades, or repairs and improvements to the locks and surroundings, communication across the teams is always the key to success.

Looking to the future, what do you hope to see change or develop within the world of engineering?

It has been great to see our apprentices grow and develop in skills and confidence since joining us and we fully recognise the importance of training and personal development.  The challenges for us are going to be transferring the more traditional skills into the ever-increasing technology within the engineering realm.  We are already seeing a reduction in the need for manual labouring and hope this continues for the health and wellbeing of everyone.

That’s very interesting and it sounds like exciting times lie ahead. Finally, what advice would you give to any budding engineers?

Get as broad of a range of experience as you can in the early years, be prepared to travel and keep asking questions!