Lyons O'Neill

Meet the engineer: James Protherough

Once more, we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know one of our engineers a bit better. Whether you’re someone who works in the industry, a prospective student or just someone with a keen interest in engineering, we’re hoping to offer a telling insight into what life as an engineer is really like. We sat down with Lyons O’Neill’s Senior Structural Engineer James Protherough to chat about what drew him to the profession and what the job involves.

When did you join Lyons O’Neill and where were you before?

I joined in February from Simpson Associates where I had spent the previous 5 years.

What do you enjoy most about engineering and why did you choose this career?

Engineering involves a number of different skills, meaning each day presents itself with different challenges. The variety is the main reason why I chose engineering, to use a wide range of knowledge and understanding combined with a passion for problem solving skills to get to the right solution.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in engineering?

I would advise a young person to keep their options open early and develop a broad range of skills which will enable you to make a well informed decisions as you start to specialise later in your career. A good understanding of computer programming will be key as the design process starts to become more automated. However, a knowledge in engineering principles will still be paramount to a successful career.  

What has been your favourite Lyons O’Neill project to work on and why?

I am currently involved in a project where we are working with the client to maximise offsite manufacture whilst maintaining a degree of flexibility in the design. This has been enjoyable as it is focused on finding an efficient structure with a number of repeatable elements, unusually giving the engineer slightly more power to decide the position of columns – something I am not used to! The design of these buildings looks to remove transfer structures and reduce the number of different members. There is also more focus on other factors such as site logistics, availability and sequencing, on which we work with the contractor to help reduce build times. It’s a great example of how our role must be flexible and develop alongside changes in the construction industry. 


Thank you James for your answers and insights. In December this year, James will be rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. In doing so, he and his team will lead the FIRST EVER ocean rowing boat to conduct vital oceanic research whilst crossing an entire ocean.

If you would like to read more and help support their cause then please donate via their funding page, Atlantic Ambition. They also still have sponsorship spots open for companies who would like to have their logo on the side of the boat during the race. Take a look at the brilliant marketing and CSR opportunities on offer at Atlantic Ambition Sponsorship Proposal.

The best of luck to James and Atlantic Ambition!