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Mr Possible.

Newly-elected vice chair Phil Bateman, a 40-year engineering design veteran, has a passion for solving what may seem initially to be impossible problems, and creating innovative products, through ideation

Many designers would recognise the situation of being asked to fit a quart into a pint pot, or break the laws of physics in order to be first to market with the next most innovative ground-breaking product ever seen, Phil says. And in some cases this has been achieved through teamwork and cross functional collaboration with some very clever design engineers. A couple of examples that come to mind would be:

* Being challenged to reduce the thickness of a mobile phone below 9mm, when the camera to be integrated was 11mm

* Seal any plug cable from an appliance used in an outside socket against a jet of water (engineered 'silicone implants' were the solution, following a cross-functional brainstorm)

* Can you get that amount of air to flow through a device without creating sound?

Having always been practically-minded, Phil left school at 16, choosing a five-year indentured design apprenticeship with material testing machine manufacturer WH Mays & Son In Windsor. (He remains an advocate of apprenticeships if the business has the facilities to support the individual, to give the best all-round experience).

Phil has then continued a career path of increased operational and financial responsibility, designing, managing and directing mechanical, electronic, software engineering, product design and manufacturing functions for a range of SME and multinational organisations across the telecommunications, manufacturing and defence sectors.

On completion of his apprenticeship in the early '80s just as CAD (computer-aided draughting) was emerging, he moved to Keeler Optical Products who had invested in the technology (Pafec Dogs) alongside the drawing board which he had used up until this point. Looking back, he was lucky to have joined at the point in which the company was redesigning its range of Vista ophthalmoscopes, Introducing him to plastic Injection moulding. A particular highlight was being in the team that designed one of the company's first handheld puff tonometers to check for glaucoma.

From there, he moved to MK Electric, where his career started to move into design team leadership. After completing a diploma in management, he moved to the UK offices of an expanding telecommunications firm in 1996 called Nokia, where he would ultimately stay until the firm was sold to Microsoft in 2012.

There was great excitement at Nokia; the technology was moving so quickly, Phil recalls. The designs of phones changed every six months. There was a huge challenge with speed to market and technology advancement; form factors were changing all the time. The design process and methodologies were challenged to speed up design, utilizing emerging manufacturing process such as rapid prototyping, soft tooling, FEA, witnessing tooling times tumble from 26 weeks to 10 weeks. That was in addition to some amazing design engineers and teamwork, without whom some of the impossible may not have been realised, he adds.

Since then, Phil has worked for ventilation equipment manufacturer Volution (corporate parent of Ventaxia), and latterly at consumer products group Conair (Babyliss), as director of technical and consumer affairs, which, Phil explains, brings together the voice of the consumer, quality and engineering to improve the design of products.

Having joined the IED in the early 1980s as a student, encouraging others to become professionally registered and others to enter engineering design, Phil was invited to become a member of Council over a decade ago. When asked what motivated him to vice-chair position, he replies: "It's about helping others see design engineering as a fantastic, exciting, rewarding career, and being able to inspire, support and help new engineering designers achieve their full potential, as I remember friends and colleagues inspiring and supporting me in this ever-changing, smaller and more connected world we live in."

Caption: Phil Boteman, right, is awarded his badge of office by Colin Ledsome
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Title Annotation:PEOPLE
Publication:Engineering Designer
Date:Nov 1, 2019
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