Professor Chris Hodge FREng, chief electrical engineer of BMT Defence Services, delivered a lecture entitled ‘A Century of Marine Engineering Training’ at the inaugural biennial Gordon Hodge Memorial Lecture held at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) on 16 December 2008.

Professor Chris Hodge is the son of the late Gordon Hodge who was a member of the institute for over 50 years, and who held the unique honour of being both an honorary fellow and an honorary vice president of IMarEST.

“The education, training and professional development of marine engineers, scientists and technologists has always been absolutely fundamental to the mission of IMarEST,” explains IMarEST’s chairman of the board of trustees, Vaughan Pomeroy, who is the technical director of marine business at Lloyd’s Register. “The need for well-qualified and experienced people today is crucial to safe, efficient and successful marine activities.

“Gordon Hodge made a huge contribution to the IMarEST over a prolonged period, which resulted in his appointment as an honorary fellow. He was a highly respected educator of marine engineers and many members of the IMarEST enjoyed the benefit of Gordon’s skills and enthusiasm. In recognition of Gordon’s personal contribution to both the IMarEST and to education of marine professionals, the board of trustees welcomed the opportunity to arrange a lecture in his memory which will focus on contemporary aspects of education, training and professional development.”

The lecture will be held every second year (alternating with the Kelvin Lecture) and is aimed at discussing and focussing attention on how to attract young people to a career in engineering in general and marine engineering in particular. “It is essential that we make engineering attractive to young people – everything in society has a debt to engineering and marine engineering underpins world trade, world security, and enables economic and sustainable development of the sea. These are all messages I will be stressing in my lecture,” says Professor Hodge.

“I will be looking back over the history of marine engineering, using my father’s life as an illustration, and looking to the future with a review of what is needed to attract young people to science and engineering and how we should balance their academic and practical training to their greatest advantage,” he added.

About Gordon Hodge

Born in 1920, Gordon Hodge CEng, CMarEng, HonFIMarEST, came from very humble beginnings, leaving school at 14 to become an apprentice fitter and turner in the shipyard at Dartford. When war broke out he finished his apprenticeship eight months early and volunteered to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. He served throughout the war in Atlantic and Pacific waters, and stayed on for six further years, leaving in 1951 having attained the rank of 2nd Engineer.

Marriage saw him opt for a land-based career and he became a teacher at Poplar Technical College, which was where he had previously studied for his certificates of competency. Having proved himself a natural teacher he and his wife emigrated to Singapore where he taught marine engineering at the Singapore Technical College for six years. He then returned to Poplar Technical College where he rose to become head of the department for marine engineering.

In 1980 he was asked to work for the IMO (then the IMCO) as a training consultant for marine engineering colleges. With many ships flagged to developing nations it was essential to ensure that colleges around the world could be helped to develop and be maintained satisfactorily. Gordon Hodge worked full time for the IMO until 1992. Even then, he continued to work for the IMO and for the Norwegian Government until 2000.

His involvement with the IMarEST (originally IMarE) spanned over 50 years from 1950, when he first joined, until his death in 2006. He was engaged at the top level of administration and chaired many of the key committees of council. He was a member of what is now the board of trustees and he was also actively engaged with the CEI, EC and EC UK.

“He was a man who put far more into the profession than he took out,” explains Professor Hodge. “He was happiest when helping the struggling engineer and was always eager to help those lower down the scale than he was. He benefited enormously from the advantages of his apprenticeship training which, in his day, enabled a youngster to finish as a qualified fitter and turner or, by dint of additional hard work, to develop further and even attain professional chartered engineer status. I remain an advocate of this type of training scheme.”

About Chris Hodge

Professor Chris Hodge FREng, CEng, FIMarEST, served for 26 years in the Royal Navy, gaining a BSc in mechanical engineering, a Post Graduate Diploma in nuclear science and technology and an MSc in marine electrical engineering. He was the marine engineer officer of both nuclear and conventional submarines. He is now the chief electrical engineer of BMT Defence Services. He is an honorary professor of engineering at the University of Warwick, a chartered engineer, a fellow of the IMarEST and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Thanks to frequent visits to Poplar Technical College with his father, Chris Hodge could foresee only one career ahead of him – marine engineering. “The staff there were marvellous, and being encouraged to start diesel engines and see other equally exciting things caught my imagination at a very early age. That is what we must do for young people nowadays.”