employee standing outside. Luke Roberts (LURO)
Chemical engineer Luke Roberts is originally from Bury north of Manchester, but now works at NIRAS's office in Ascot.
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Luke Roberts: From complex calculations to hands-on practicality

Chemical engineer Luke Roberts is an example of the versatility that dominates NIRAS’ team in United Kingdom. Luke combines hands-on practicality on construction sites with a self-confessed nerdy love for giant spreadsheets that carry out complex calculations.

Originally from Bury north of Manchester, chemical engineer Luke Roberts now works at NIRAS’ office in Ascot some 30 km west of London. During the last six years Luke has mainly worked on brewery projects, but has also done projects within the dairy sector.

Like many of the other members of NIRAS’ team in United kingdom, Luke Roberts is versatile and can undertake a series of different tasks.

“My work description is project engineer, but I do all manner of things. I would say I am the calculation guy in the office, so if there are numbers to be worked out quite often people come to me. But apart I can work on site, do commissioning and process design. I both enjoy working at the office and going to sites,” explains Luke Roberts.

Having previously worked with packaging in Tetra Pack and with fermentation in a bioethanol company, Luke’s broad experience has led him to work with both the dairy and the brewing sector in NIRAS. Recently he has finished the commissioning of the Brains Brewery new site, The Dragon Brewery in Cardiff.

“NIRAS is good place to work, and and we have many facets to the company. What I really like about this place is that you see your work all the way to the finish. You start a project one year and do the basic design, and one or two years later you will be doing the commissioning.” 

Luke Roberts, Chemical engineer, NIRAS in United Kingdom

Challenges

“I think that one of the biggest challenges that we face is how to anticipate just how complex and complicated a project will be before we actually start it. And then obviously to deliver the project to the client’s full satisfaction,” says Luke Roberts.

Luke Roberts mentions Brains’ new Dragon Brewery as a project that required both versatility and ingenuity. The brewery had closed down its old site and was moving into its new brewery which was still under installation. This meant they had to start the beer production at the new site even though it was not completely finished.

“We had to do a lot of inventive rooting and re-rooting of beer through different pipes in order to make it work and get the beer to the right place, while the installation of the site was still ongoing. It was difficult, but it was also a lot fun,” says Luke.

Fascination with complex production models

Luke confesses to have a bit nerdy side which includes a fascination with giant Excel spreadsheets. 

“I know it sounds a bit weird, but I do get quite excited about a giant spreadsheet that can calculate all manner of things,” he says, laughing.

Not surprisingly Luke Roberts’ highlights a massive, highly complex Excel production model as one of his main achievements. The production model was developed for a dairy plant and among other things made it possible to predict the production of cheese and other products based on the quantity of incoming milk.

Fulfilling to see a project through from start to finish

For Luke Robert, one of the main draws at NIRAS is that he can start a project and see it through to its conclusion, something that has not always been possible in his previous jobs.

“NIRAS is good place to work, and and we have many facets to the company. What I really like about this place is that you see your work all the way to the finish. You start a project one year and do the basic design, and one or two years later you will be doing the commissioning,” he says.

Luke also thinks it gives a sense of fulfillment to help clients out of difficulties:

“I think NIRAS can add value to a company because we can help them out of tricky situations and use our expertise to get them where they want to be. We also have so many facets to our company that we could effectively be a one-stop shop for all engineering fields.”