Andrew Grant (46) is an International Specialist Electrical Contractor, a business owner and a commissioning engineer. Despite these successes he was looking to remain relevant in our ever-changing world; he recently graduated with an Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering. His studied through the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) and has now won the EIT Outstanding Student of the Year award for 2017.
Andrew has been involved in the electrical transmission and distribution sector for more than 25 years. For the past 16 years he has been running his own company, AMG Power Systems, which he founded in 1999.
AMG Power Systems is based in Durban, South Africa; it specializes in the installation and commissioning of primary and secondary equipment in substations, power stations and in industry.
Andrew’s daily responsibilities involve working with equipment such as switchgear, transformers, instrument transformers, GIS, protection and control equipment, SCADA networks, batteries and charger systems.
He says the electrical industry, specifically in the heavy current field, is facing a shortage of qualified and competent people. He asserts that the industry needs people to design, commission, operate and maintain power networks in the near future. And those students need to be aptly trained to do so.
Balancing work and study
Andrew was looking for a solution to the conundrum of running a demanding business and needing to upskill at the same time. He said:
“As it turned out, the EIT experience was perfect for me as I am extremely busy during the week both during the days on site and the evenings, compiling test documentation, drawings, etc and the pace and flexibility of the program allowed me to study whilst not interfering with my business commitments.”
Incredibly, Andrew also completed 2 online certificate courses, each 3 months in duration, through EIT during his 18 month Advanced Diploma course. He finished the Power System Protection and IEC 61850 based Substation Automation courses successfully.
Andrew believes that the qualification, together with the professional development courses, contributed to his increasing self-confidence in his business. The international standing of the qualification (it is recognized under the Dublin Accord) was an added benefit as he intends to immigrate to the United Kingdom.
Andrew is looking ahead and to the future of the industry: in 2018 he intends to enroll on EIT’s Graduate Certificate of Renewable Energy (GCRE) and further himself as a commissioning engineer in the UK with proficiency in large scale solar and wind energy technologies. He says:
“The Renewable Energy Sector is an obvious area in which to extend myself as a commissioning engineer. The GCRE will allow me to have the additional knowledge necessary to apply my commissioning experience in these fields.”
When reflecting on his online studies he tells of something he initiated which helped unite his virtual class: a Facebook group. It proved popular as the students in his cohort were able to share news, consider problems and raise issues outside of the formal online classroom. This is a remarkable initiative because it can be lonely studying online, even with the live platform of learning employed by EIT.
Andrew expressed his belief that experienced industry practitioners need to assist those new to it. He also has a heart for helping others achieve an education. As the lead commissioning engineer, on more than 30 substation projects over the past 10 years, he has mentored 12 young students in the industry. He has also encouraged them to study further, providing them with the opportunity to complete diploma courses.
Andrew Grant is an impressive example of someone who has enormous industry experience, but who understands that he must not stop learning. He has realized that to cope with the galloping changes in technology and within his industry he must continue to skill up to keep ahead and thriving. His tenacity and clarity of vision have ensured his success thus far and will certainly continue to hold him in good stead.
We at the Engineering Institute of Technology wish Andrew every success in the future and congratulate him on winning the award for Outstanding Student of the Year.