The Gerry Mason Engineering Excellence Scholarships were set up in 2015 when Morson founder Gerry Mason met with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford to pledge £270,000 towards establishing a scholarship programme to support local, talented engineering students.
His vision was to provide a programme for the most gifted students across all disciplines of engineering to flourish irrespective of their financial background. Sadly, Gerry passed away later that year but the scholarships were continued in his memory.
Gerry Mason scholar James Kelly, who graduated with a BEng in Petroleum Engineering in 2018, has since gone on to work at design consultancy Morson Projects. The University of Salford recently caught up with him and found out how his time at the university and receiving a donor funded scholarship helped him on his journey to a career as a full time Systems Engineer.
How did being awarded the Gerry Mason scholarship help you while you were a student at Salford?
Having the scholarship helped take the pressure off me from a financial point of view and allowed me to maximise focus on my studies. This was a big aid throughout my studies but particularly in my third year which was the most time-consuming and intense of the three. As well as this, having the support of Morson and the Mason family provided more than enough motivation for my studies!
What brought you to Salford and what did you enjoy most?
I wanted to study Petroleum Engineering and there were not many Universities that offered this course. Once I had a look around Salford and heard feedback from Students who had studied the course, I was confident Salford was the correct choice. I enjoyed a lot about my time at Salford but the one thing that stands out from an academic perspective is gaining hands-on practical skills during my project in the final year. This was completely new and was driven by my own ideas for the project and I certainly enjoyed the challenge!
Did you attend a placement at Morson whilst a student and how did this help you in thinking about your future career?
I had a one week work experience at Morson Projects towards the end of my second year. The week was certainly eye opening and gave me a good understanding of what the role of an engineer entails across various disciplines. This helped me directly in my studies as it shaped the choices I made in my final year, but the variety and intricacy of the work I had witnessed at Morson Projects left me with the confidence that engineering (of some form!) was the right career choice for me. Thankfully, this is now something I get to be a part of everyday.
How did the connections you made at Morson whilst a student help you into employment after University?
During my studies I was fortunate enough, through the scholarship, to meet various Morson employees. To my surprise, even the CEO of Morson, Ged Mason, took a personal interest in all of the scholars and that really shows what Morson is all about. As I was keen to start my career at Morson Projects, I utilised these connections to the full upon graduating and not long after I was starting as a Graduate Engineer at Morson Projects.
Can you give us a summary of your career to date and what is your current role?
I started on the Civil Engineering team at Morson Projects. Being my first job in engineering, everything was new to me but with the support of the experienced engineers around me I soon began to pick things up. I was involved in a project primarily using AutoCAD but once this project had finished, I moved to the Control Systems department (known as Ematics). The work at Ematics is software engineering based (something I had no experience in), but I enjoyed my time so much that I decided to stay with Ematics permanently. I am currently a Systems Engineer for Ematics and I have worked on SCADA (a type of software used for control systems) projects in both the power and rail sectors.
How have you settled in to work after graduation and how are Morson as an employer?
I worked for 3 months during each summer break at university and this is something I would recommend to any student. I think having that workplace experience, even in a nonengineering environment, helped me to settle into my new position. Of course, the work was challenging initially but everyone at Morson Projects was understanding and someone was always happy to talk through any questions I had. In fact, I have found that this is one of the reasons why Morson Projects has such a positive working environment and everyone is happy to share their knowledge with co-workers.
Morson have been an amazing employer for me so far. The workplace is fast-paced and at Projects we all are aware we have deadlines to make but we are rewarded for our hard work. I was fortunate enough to attend the Morson’s 50th anniversary party last summer alongside guests such as Ricky Hatton and Sir Alex Ferguson and that was a day I’ll never forget. I am proud to work for a company who supports charities and the community in the way Morson does. It sounds cliché, but it’s amazing how a company of this size manages to maintain a strong family ethos.
What are your future career ambitions?
I hope to go on to have a long and successful career at Morson Projects and develop into an experienced and well-rounded Engineer, gaining an understanding of all areas of the business from both a technical and commercial standpoint. Above all though, I hope to enjoy the rest of my career as much as I’ve enjoyed the first 18 months. If I manage that I’ll know that I’ve had a good career!
As well as helping individual students through their engineering degree courses, Morson also partnered with the University of Salford to help create the Morson Maker Space.
Find out about how the Morson Maker Space helped tackle the PPE shortage during the coronavirus pandemic