Engineering the future

James Groom is currently employed as a project engineer at Highland Scientific Ltd. His work involves engineering design alongside helping to establish the new R&D facility on the Ronaldsway Industrial Estate in Ballasalla. The business specialises in the thin film deposition of diamond-like carbon (DLC) upon pipelines for the oil and gas industry, and in the near future will also commence production of graphene.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the world around me. “How?” and “Why?” were the questions that permeated my thoughts. This stayed with me throughout my schooling as the sciences were always the most enjoyable subjects for me, particularly chemistry and physics.

What was your first job?

James Lab

It was always hard to narrow down which path I should take. However, at some point I had the realisation that the global economy is an oil economy. With this in mind, I asked myself, 'What is the most interesting yet useful direction to take in order to secure a solid career foundation?' The obvious answer had to be a scientist of some description. On a side note, I had been slightly influenced by various Sci-Fi franchises, which will remain nameless!

After flurries of being a paperboy and cashier, my first full time job was a summer placement at GE Aviation Systems in Onchan through the STEP scheme. I was tasked with constructing a Piping and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) for the onsite coating and effluent treatment plants. This was valuable experience of working in a professional setting on a daily basis.


Who taught you, or how did you learn, to handle money?

Having a financial advisor as a father obviously had some influence in how I manage my money! However, both my parents from an early age stressed the importance of controlling the spending and saving any money earned.

C518 016If you weren’t doing your current job, what else might you be doing?

This is a difficult question to answer for many as one could endlessly speculate. Realistically, I would aim to utilize my background as a chemical engineer. Failing that, I would not be afraid to adapt myself to any challenging/interesting opportunity that presents itself in a range of industries.

What motivates you?

It is said that money is man’s motivation. In my case, however, it is developing novel, intriguing technologies that will benefit and advance our civilization.

Where in your job or career do you find most satisfaction?

The most satisfying part of my day has to be working with new projects and technology in tandem with having the quality of life that the island provides.

What do you do to relax?

When I have a few hours to spend, I have been known to take part in strategy games, play table tennis and enjoy a good movie.

What did you study and why?

I studied chemical engineering at university. This is a potpourri of chemistry, physics, mathematics and economics with a chief focus on the design and operation of industrial processes, which convert raw materials into value added products.  As engineering is the purposeful use of science, I wanted to study something that was both interesting and challenging that would also allow me stand out from the ever increasing quality of candidates and compete in the jobs market.

(If you studied in the UK) what made you return to the Isle of Man?

My academic foundation as a chemical engineer allowed me to obtain a broad, valuable and transferable skill set. As a recent graduate, I was determined to retain my expertise on the island before looking abroad. As the Isle of Man Government funded my studies, it made sense to me to begin my career on the island in order to give something back to the local economy. This notion, coupled with the opportunity of working as part of a hi-tech start-up company, was too good to pass up.

Who do you / have you looked up to for inspiration?

The inspirational people in my life would have to be my parents, who are self-made people. Over a decade ago, my father decided to start his own business after working for many years for large multinationals, his desire to succeed has been imprinted on me. They have consistently given me support growing up and given me the tools to succeed in life and for that I am extremely grateful.

What is your favourite quote or motto?

There are many quotes that resonate with me, but if I had to choose one, it would  be: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Albert Einstein.

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In collaboration with Departments of the Isle of Man Government