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In the Spotlight – we hear from Eddie McDermott, who is the Material Testing Lab Manager, based in our Material Testing Services Centre in Chapelhall, Airdrie.


What is your favorite part of your job?

The best parts of my job are being lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to places I wouldn’t normally visit, to carry out materials testing and sampling.  I also enjoy seeing new employees who join the materials laboratory flourish when they develop from trainee technicians into confident material technicians.


What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I would probably be most proud of my progression from trainee material technician to my current position as a lab manager. It is also great to see new entrants to the materials testing discipline, come into the material testing lab, and watching them develop to become established technicians and progressing to senior level technicians and beyond.


What’s one thing people don’t know about that they would be surprised to find out about the lab?

I think people would be surprised at the detail we are required to work to in the materials lab to ensure continued compliance with our UKAS accreditation. There are various requirements that must be complied with to ensure our accreditations are maintained. These include daily checks on certain equipment for accuracy and confirming there is no drift occurring in its output, interlab comparison testing, proficiency testing/checks on technicians, ensuring equipment is properly maintained and calibrated in accordance with its relevant standard, and ensuring we have up to date copies of all standards we carry out work to. The lab is thoroughly audited by various bodies such as UKAS, SEPA, Counter Terrorism Police, Health and Safety Executive and even the Office for Nuclear Regulations!


How long have you been with the company?

I started with the company in 2015 after spending 10 years carrying out construction material testing and structural investigation works with Stanger Testing Services. During my time with Stanger I gained valuable experience in the specification for highway works, identifying various suitable and unsuitable materials that are used in the construction of various civil and building projects. I also gained knowledge in sampling and testing methods employed to identify building defects of existing structures such as residential housing, commercial buildings and bridges.


How has your role evolved over time since you’ve been here?

I first joined Wills Bros in 2015 as a materials technician, working on the A9 Kincraig to Dalraddy dualling. During this project my role quickly evolved from a materials technician to the materials laboratory manager within the company. As part of this role, on behalf of the company I successfully applied for and attained the companies first UKAS accreditation. Since the completion of the A9 dualling project, I have managed laboratories that have completed testing on various Wills Bros projects such as A77 Maybole Bypass, A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe Dualling, Inverness West Link, New Cumnock and Huntley Flood Protection schemes. I have worked to update test methods employed by the laboratory to ensure continued compliance with the constantly evolving materials testing standards and industry requirements. As part of this I am currently working towards introducing a limited quantity of chemical analysis testing of some soils and aggregates to further increase the laboratories capabilities.


How did you get started in the industry?

I accidentally fell into the construction industry, carrying out materials testing. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do as a career and applied for a job with Stanger, with no idea what construction materials was or what to expect. I began my first role as a trainee materials technician and worked for a few months completing blacktop analysis testing of samples being taken from a local resurfacing project in Paisley. Since then, I aim to keep learning each day in work.