Graduate Profile

Roger Millington, Physics BSc 1980, PhD 1985

Senior Consultant, Sagentia Ltd

Formerly Director of Technology and Product Development at PCME Ltd

The photograph shows me inside a US power station chimney cavity and looking rather like a version of a famous Lancastrian steeplejack. Mine is a career which has turned full circle from a technical point of view, having started in 1980 in Arthur Maitland’s laser group in the Physics Department, with the design of a novel LIDAR system capable of measuring SO2 emissions from Scottish chimneys (such emissions are under legislative control) and now, creating devices for measuring particulate emissions from industrial stacks around the world.

That PhD project was fortuitous rather than deliberate, as one accepts the subject matter which is available and reasonably interesting. However, a particular benefit of the PhD is to develop a sense of self-reliance which serves you well in following a technical career. In my case, the subject matter established a dual path of sensors and laser technology which permitted me to take paid work in either camp. Delivery of a complete thesis from concept to physical reality also necessitated being a project engineer of sorts and this was a good start when later joining industry, where timescales and success are all-important.

Following St Andrews, still with the thirst for university research, I pioneered a holographic biosensor at Cambridge University. However, the feeling for using science for creating value-added products drove me to the laser industry where I learned much about project management and survival in a commercially-driven world. Redundancy is all too common and the industrial slump of the early 90s sent me back to a re-established and entrepreneurial department at Cambridge to re-start the holographic biosensor which ultimately span-out into a development company.

As I believed I had amassed enough wisdom by that time (don’t correct me if I was wrong), my preference, about fourteen years ago, was to become self-employed as a consultant and contractor and, apart from a year on the Cambridge Science Park in another spin-off as an optical specialist, I designed lasers, sensors and worked in various aspects of innovation management for several years.

Over this time, application of physics and engineering had become intertwined in a variety of industrial and academic experience which could be profitably applied so when, six years ago, that opportunity to go back to chimneys came up in my locality, I joined as the manager of the development department at PCME, taking up a Board position after a year. This has been most intensive and varied in terms of the management of people, technology, quality, production and company processes. In this role, I am glad to feel a responsibility now to mentor upcoming engineers in the way that I was mentored so well at St Andrews all those years ago.

Posted BDS 2.14
Updated 12.14