Moray man celebrates engineering degree

A Moray man who juggled a 100 mile round commute, full-time job and a family while studying is celebrating after graduating from Robert Gordon University (RGU).

John Milne (40), from Keith, graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering at Aberdeen’s Music Hall yesterday (Friday, December 13) while proud wife Alison cheered him on from the audience with children Ethan (3) and Anna (11 months).

Leaving school at 16, John started his career as an apprentice mechanic before joining Scot JCB as a field service engineer. He made the move into the oil and gas industry in 2008, taking on a role as a technical support specialist with Subsea 7 in the Remote Operating Vehicles (ROV) division.

“When I joined Subsea7 I was totally new to the oil and gas industry and was amazed at the variation, opportunity and experiences available within the field,” John said. “I was determined that this was for me and started to consider options to further my engineering education.”

After attending an open evening at RGU, John made the decision to undertake a 2+2 degree link course and started the Mechanical Engineering HND course at North East Scotland College.

John said: “I found the first few modules straight forward and with my years’ experience working with heavy equipment managed to complete them with relative ease - but then came the maths module. I remember sitting in the class totally stumped as to what the lecturer was talking about.

“I thought I have two options: walk out and forget about the course or knuckle down and persevere through it. I started attending extra maths classes and eventually it clicked. I got through the exam, progressed through the two years and joined RGU in September 2011.

“I found RGU to be very well structured, the study resource site is well organised and a great asset to all staff and students, while the lecturers were very pleasant, approachable and never missed a class.”

He added: “I’m really grateful to Subsea 7 and my line manager Brian Johnston for supporting me throughout my further education. Working and studying at the same time, while challenging, meant I was able to relate what I was learning to work related equipment or projects.”

Throughout his HND and degree, John stayed in Keith and commuted to Westhill, where Subsea 7 is based, clocking up 100 miles each day. After a day at work, he then went to evening classes at least two nights a week, meaning he was leaving the house at 6.15am and not returning until 9.45pm.

John said: “My wife has been a great support throughout the journey as we have two young children and it’s not easy balancing family life with the intense study workload the course demanded. She was great at keeping the kids contented and taking them away for days when I needed to get coursework completed.”

The family celebrated the occasion with a meal and a night in Aberdeen.

“I thought about all the late nights I spent driving home after classes and the weekends I spent at the kitchen table and decided to make a day of it and treat all who helped me,” John said. “It’s been a hectic few years but I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of my achievement.”

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology