Dr Mike Byfield presented papers on the crisis facing civil engineering to produce more graduates and then he was empowered by Southampton University to do something about it.
'I was asked to start up a company sponsored MSc in civil engineering for candidates who did not have a civils first degree to address the skills shortage after doing research stating the need to look at nonengineering graduates because things are getting progressively worse, ' he says.
'The students get a good deal and it's good deal for the company as well because they should continue to work for the company full time at the end of the course. And with scholarships available to cover tuition fees, people from surprising backgrounds have gone for it including physical sciences and ship science, aeronautical engineering and environmental sciences.
In fact anyone can apply provided they have a maths A Level or physical sciences equivalent.
Byfield says: 'The MSc teaches them about materials, surveying and gives them an understanding of civil engineering fundamentals but they're not going to structural or bridge engineers.
'There's been a lot of interest from the medium sized companies and public bodies such as the Environment Agency.' And the structure of the course, whereby the student takes a nine month chunk of time in college, is something industry wanted. 'Industry is pretty hard pressed now and companies were finding it too disruptive to have someone having two weeks off every two months to go to university. That came through very strongly, ' adds Byfield.
The course is up before the Joint Board of Moderators soon for accreditation as a matching section towards becoming a chartered civil engineer.
But plenty of people from non-engineering backgrounds have already taken a punt. 'We've had tonnes of applications, ' said Byfield.