- BA in Mechanical Engineering
- Cambridge, UK, 1967 (Later transformed to MA)
- MSc in Foundations of Mathematics and Mathematical Logic
- Bristol, University, UK, 1972
Fields of Work
Technical Communities and University Relations
Areas of interest outside work
Mountain climbing and music.
"Would you believe that there are true statements in arithmetic…that you can never prove, however clever you are and however much time you allow yourself."
I am 56, British, married with three children. I am the sixth generation of engineers in my family. You can't get much more than that, because modern engineering only started in the industrial revolution which is to say the beginning of the 19th century. My ancestor, Joshua Edmundson, started the first engineering business in Ireland in 1804. He built lighthouses and for a while was responsible for most of the lighthouses around the world. The business went bust around 1900 and got sold. But the name was preserved, and today in the UK there is a flourishing electrical wholesale business called Edmundson's Electrical. It gives me a shock whenever I see one of their many vans or lorries. My son is an engineer also, so that makes seven generations.
I knew I was going to be an engineer because my favorite toy by far when I was growing up was my Meccano set. This wasn't exactly mine, since it was too expensive to buy new. The one I had was handed down from my father and his brothers. But it had enough struts and nuts and bolts and gears and spindles to make a fabulous array of machinery, by necessity all the result of my imagination since the instruction booklet had long ago been lost. I studied Engineering at the University of Cambridge, but never worked very hard. I was too busy mountaineering or planning expeditions to the Himalayas and Afghanistan.
A few years later, I got very interested in mathematics, actually a special branch of mathematics that deals with infinitely large numbers. This is a lot less glamorous and also less hard than it sounds. It's an amazing field of enquiry that leads you into a veritable paradise of surprises. For example, would you believe that there are true statements in arithmetic --- an example of a true statement is 2 + 2 = 4 --- that you can never prove, however clever you are and however much time you allow yourself? Well, there are actually an infinite number of such true statements. Their unprovability was discovered by an Austrian mathematical genius called Kurt Godel, who unfortunately went insane toward the end of his life.
I joined Schlumberger when I was 21 and still work for them. I am responsible for the professional life of all the technical experts in the company and also with making sure Schlumberger knows well all the best universities in the world. This is really important since we recruit from these universities and we also do research work with the best science departments in these universities. Working for Schlumberger has been quite an adventure. I started in the oilfields, mainly in the Libyan Sahara, then became a research scientist, then started a technical magazine that described all the great things the company does, and then slowly worked my way into the position I now have. It's hard to imagine finding a better group of people to work with. That is without doubt the main reason I have worked for Schlumberger for so long.
In my spare time, and I make sure there is plenty, I climb mountains (see the article) and play a lot of classical music. I have played the piano since I was seven, and I have always needed music like I need oxygen to breathe. Life without music would have no meaning for me. If I were a little better, I would like to play music professionally. That is my true dream. Maybe in another life.