Former college student’s career is going full steam ahead

Former college student’s career is going full steam ahead

7th August 2014


A FORMER college student’s career is going full steam ahead as a promotion puts him at the forefront of a new factory that will build the next generations of trains.

Ex-Darlington College student Mark Kilcran is now a planner at Shepherd, which is working on a £31.5m contract to construct Hitachi Rail Europe’s new vehicle manufacturing facility at Merchant Park, Newton Aycliffe.

The 24-year-old, of Darlington, attended Longfield School before studying a national certificate in construction and an HNC in building studies at Darlington College, ahead of securing a first class honours degree in construction management at Northumbria University.

He is now part of a team tasked with planning the construction of the 43,000 sqm Hitachi Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility on a 32 acre site next to the Darlington to Bishop Auckland railway. Once finished the factory will be one of the country’s largest train manufacturing facilities and will employ more than 700 people.

Mark said: “My primary role on site is the planning and sequencing of construction operations. I then need to communicate this plan to the rest of the team to ensure we can deliver projects to our clients on time.

“Part of this process is the creation, monitoring and updating of construction programmes. In other words these are project to-do lists often containing more than 1,000 items.

“You have to review all of the project information and start building the project in your head from the bottom up. The plan helps keep all the various trades co-ordinated so that they are not trying to work in the same area at the same time.

At Hitachi we have an average of 150 people on site in any one day so a lack of co-ordination would lead to chaos.”

Mark joined Shepherd seven years ago based at its Darlington office. Since then he has worked on a variety of high profile projects including the Richmond School redevelopment, testing facilities at the National Renewable Energy Centre at Blyth, the North-East Fire and Rescue Authority fire station building programme and most recently a major biomass project at Drax Power Station.

“I knew when I was at school that I wanted to work in construction but I originally thought I would enter a trade such as bricklaying or joinery,” he said. “Had it not been for the guidance of my family I may never have entered the professional side of the industry. I’d never even heard of planning until I began working at Shepherd. For me it was absolutely the right decision.”

Darlington College’s programme leader for building studies Lisa Bowerbank said: “Mark is an amazing example of what young people can achieve on an alternative study programme to traditional A Levels.

“He still came out of his studies with a top class degree and now at the age of just 24 he is managing projects worth more than £30m. He has had a great deal of support from Shepherd but has also worked extremely hard and his achievements are amazing.”

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