Welcome to the Eastern Region Summer 2020

John Sheppard

Dear Members and visitors to this page,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newly elected Eastern Region Chair having taken over from Peter Wotherspoon earlier this year.  Firstly; all our thanks go to Peter for his dedication and achievements over the last 4 years.

My name is John Sheppard and have enjoyed 35 years in the water Industry.  Having completed a 4-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship prior to gaining my mechanical engineering degree from Sussex University, in 1981 I did voluntary service overseas in Bangladesh for 2 years working on agricultural machinery.  This was on a group of 5 government farms in the west of Bangladesh on the border with India.  There I learned lot about the maintenance of diesel engines and hydraulic systems but was also humbled as I was surrounded by so many happy and positive people who lived in comparative poverty.  On my return to the UK I joined Sir M MacDonald Consulting Engineers and spent 5 years in Indonesia and back in Bangladesh on Overseas Development Administration deep tube-well groundwater irrigation projects.  

Once married I gave up the overseas life and joined Haiste Consulting Engineers in the UK undertaking works for the water industry.  In 1994 I joined Atkins Consulting Engineers developing my expertise for feasibility studies, design, implementation, project management and commercial management in the water industry and flood drainage both in the UK and overseas.  This was until my retirement in March 2019.  My most notable project was the overall project management, feasibility, and lead design for the replacement and upgrading of the St Germans Pumping station, near Kings Lynn, increasing the site pumping capacity from 70 cubic metres per second (Cumec) to 100 Cumec.    At a cost of £44M this was one of the largest pumping stations in Europe and I lead a team of architects, mechanical, electrical, ICA, Structural and civil engineers, noise specialists, environmental scientist’s, heritage specialists and planners. 

Now I am a trustee at the Cambridge Museum of Technology, which is the site of a high capacity 1894 sewage pumping Station, involved in getting the two very large Hathorn Davy steam engines up and running.  These are shown in the photo and powered large plunger pumps, developed originally for mining, that transferred the sewage to the Milton works for treatment.  This station, connected with the new sewerage system, ended the run of Cholera epidemics that so devastated life in Cambridge.  Working with refurbished boilers and feed pumps I am very much enjoying the hands-on activities; working alongside other very experienced steam engineers and some fantastically energetic volunteers.  I have also had time to do STEM activities at a local school constructing model electric cars with children hopefully inspiring them to become engineers themselves. 

In my role as Eastern Region Chair, I look forward to helping mechanical engineers of all ages making the best of the support our wonderful Institution offers to enhance our careers.  Next year I intend to host our ‘New Members Welcome’ event at the museum and will be contacting those of you that are newly IMechE qualified.

With the immediate impact on so many of us of the Covid Pandemic and the climate changes that are very much upon the world, these are difficult and challenging times.  Difficult because so many have lost their jobs and the severe blows that puts upon us and challenging, as we adapt to new working practices and, very importantly, use our engineering skills to combat climate change to improve the world we live in.

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John Sheppard

Eastern Region Chair


Current and Future Events

Please click the event heading for further information.
  • Event Type: Technical lecture
    19 May 2021 12:00 to 13:00
    In this free 60 minutes webinar, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Ricardo will give their technical insight into Project Fresson which is using hydrogen fuel cell technology to develop a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. They will also look ahead to the next steps required to prepare what will be the world’s first truly green passenger-carrying airline services.
    Industry: Aerospace Industries
  • Event Type: Technical lecture
    19 May 2021 19:30 to 21:00
    Virtual event via Zoom - .
    Please join us for the next SEA Webinar of the season by using the link above. The event will stream live at 19:30 on Wednesday the 19th of May 2021.
    Industry: Automobile
  • Event Type: Talk or debate
    20 May 2021 17:30 to 18:30
    Virtual, in your own home!
    Malcolm Miles, Professional Head of Plant at Network Rail will present an overview of development and design of on track plant to meet the future challenges of maintaining track in a safe and efficient process.
    Industry: Railway
  • Event Type: Technical lecture
    28 May 2021 12:00 to 13:00
    In this webinar Peter Hill, Director of woven fabrics at Heathcoat Fabrics Limited, explains how their high-quality British manufacturing of specialist fabrics was deployed as an integral part of the NASA rover Perseverance, unmanned spacecraft, a mission to mars. The soft landing on the surface of Mars was successfully achieved earlier this year - 18 of February 2021.
    Industry: Aerospace Industries
  • Event Type: Technical lecture
    08 June 2021 19:30 to 21:00
    Online Meeting via Zoom
    It has been said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own oceans. In this lecture we will learn from an oceanographic scientist how they explore and map the sea bed and the techniques used in marine environment.
    Industry: Cross-sector
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