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Melvin England

Melvin England

Age: 43, Director, Loadtest Ltd

Route to the job
I came to the construction industry from the defence industry13 years ago with a degree in physics and a masters in acoustics. I worked at Cementation until earlier this year, when I set up Loadtest Ltd. My time with Cementation, working alongside David Greenwood and the late Ken Fleming, was most inspirational and also led to my doctorate on pile behaviour, under Professor John Burland at Imperial College. At Cementation I developed a comprehensive foundation, geotechnical and structural testing department and my research and development efforts have resulted in over 60 patents. These range from improved safety features for piling rigs and their automation to more efficient pile types and installation techniques. Now operating independently as Loadtest, I have chosen to concentrate on completely automatic pile load testing which coupled with the smart Osterberg cell - pioneered by Loadtest in the US - provides a complementary range of pile load testing services to the foundation industry.

Typical day
Loadtest Ltd is a new company and each day is completely unpredictable. I may be looking at a variety of opportunities; either top-down or bi-directional load testing somewhere in Europe, or proposals to lease or sell the equipment. I might also find myself organising reaction systems or providing remote supervision for static load tests that are running automatically. I also carry out expert witness work for contractors and consultants and give talks on the use of the Cemset/Cemsolve/Timeset suite of programs, which I developed and now sell to the industry.

Highs & Lows
I feel privileged to have the opportunity of working with many leaders in the geotechnical industry. I get a great buzz when my contributions are recognised - it was a great thrill when Dr Greenwood described my PhD thesis as "mandatory reading for every engineer involved in piling". The lows occur when, despite great effort and enthusiasm on either a development or a testing program, the results are wasted and not used to optimise the technique/design.

I'd like to see more of my ideas/innovations being deployed throughout the industry and to leave a legacy. To develop Loadtest Ltd into an elite testing organisation and to see computer controlled static load testing and O-Cell technology used more frequently, preferably as a value engineering resource.

If man could make it to the moon, given enough effort and resources, we can do practically anything we wish to apply our engineering abilities to. We should not be backward in applying our imagination to what could be done to provide improvements to safety and efficiency in the foundation industry.