Troop Commander: British Army, Royal Engineers
Jason graduated in with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is now a Royal Engineer troop commander for the British Army. Based in South Sudan, Jason tells us about his current projects.
I chose Loughborough for the facilities and the position it held in a number of university ranking tables. Once I had visited I had no doubt that it was where I wanted to go. The campus lifestyle, the people and the facilities were all remarkable and from that visit I set my sights on attending. Being sponsored by the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) I was limited to only a handful of universities however looking back I would have chosen Loughborough regardless.
Loughborough gave me the opportunity to experience everything I wanted to, and far more than just a degree. My career is still in its' infancy however at Loughborough I was able to combine, with relative ease, studies, military activities, sports and of course socialising. As well at that during my final year at Loughborough I looked into additive manufacturing. This enabled me to have a good understanding of 3D printing so that when the Army were looking to implement it on my current tour I could take the lead and run the trial.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Mechanical Engineering is certainly not easy and at times the late nights and what seems like impossible work can seem daunting. However the staff, facilities and students are what make the degree so make the most of them. There's always someone to help and towards the end of your degree, everything you get taught comes together and starts to make sense.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
Whilst at Loughborough I was part of DTUS throughout. I also took up boxing in my second year and Tae Kwon Do in my final year. Around my graduation I then started working at Loughborough Students' Union. At the time I thought doing these activities would be too time consuming and I wouldn't be able to manage them, however one of my biggest regrets is not doing everything earlier. Yes, you're busy with your degree however everything is manageable and those activities just add to the Loughborough experience so I would definitely recommend them.
I am a Royal Engineer troop commander and I have been deployed in South Sudan as part of the United Nations' peacekeeping mission (UNMISS). I am in command of a troop of 28 tradesmen with a variety of skill sets and my job is to manage any projects they are undertaking. I am also responsible for all the equipment my troop owns but more importantly I am responsible for their welfare.
Whilst deployed I have been lucky enough to be running an additive manufacturing trial. Due to the poor infrastructure within the country, resources are very hard to come by and deliveries can take months to arrive if ever. Due to this the Army has identified a need for an innovative solution to combat the strained resource chain, so has since tasked me with trialling the use of additive manufacturing in an austere operating environment. It's certainly not something I thought I would be involved in on an operational tour; however the opportunity this brings is something I am relishing.
South Sudan is the world's newest country that in recent times has unfortunately seen a lot of violence. Where we are based in Bentiu, there is a protection of civilians (POC) camp that is currently occupied by over 120,000 people. The UN provide security and also look at re-establishing the community so that the people feel safe enough to return to their own homes.
The main project I am in charge of is the construction of a Level 2 Hospital for all 1800 UN personnel in Bentiu. The construction and presence of this hospital means that UN personnel and other Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) can feel safe in the knowledge that if anyone is based in the area they will be able to receive a high level of medical care. This means they are more likely to commit people to the area, which in turn increases the likelihood that peace and stability will return.
As well as that my troop have been involved in upgrading elements within the POC camp and have looked into work that can be conducted in the surrounding areas to increase the possibility that people will return to their homes.
The thing I love most about the job is the variety. Whereas I've deployed to South Sudan with the UN, the people I went through training with have had a completely different experience. Some have completed specialist training with explosive ordnance disposal and others have gone on to become armoured troop commanders working with vehicles like the Titan and Trojan.
Aside from the variety of the job, the opportunity to come out on a UN mission and be in charge of such a large project that will have a huge impact on the people of South Sudan is a great privilege and one that I will not forget anytime soon.
I am still only midway through my tour so will continue construction work on the Level 2 Hospital until it is complete to hand over to the UN. As well as that I will continue to trial additive manufacturing in the country, testing the limitations and hopefully providing solutions to any parts in the hospital that are vital to its' completion that we are unable to get delivered.
The proudest moment of my career has to be commissioning from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. I spent so long trying to get there that the day I commissioned was a huge relief and it finally felt like the start to my military career. That being said a close second if not equal, is the ability to lead my troop on an operation tour. Although this is completely different to previous operational tours the British Army has faced in places like Afghanistan, it is an honour to lead a troop of soldiers abroad. Being responsible for their careers and more is not something I take lightly.