RGU alum recognised for his positive impact on engineering sector

03/05/2024
Left to Right: Engineering student Corey Sangster, Iain Anderson, Mark Twigg and RGU's Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Olivier

THE life and legacy of a notable Robert Gordon University (RGU) alum who founded his own engineering firm in the fledgling days of the energy industry in Aberdeen has been marked at a special event.

William Anderson studied Mechanical Engineering at the then Robert Gordon’s Technical College, graduating in 1954 before going on to establish Wilmar Engineering following a period travelling the world as an engineer in the Merchant Navy.

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His passion for engineering and sharing knowledge is demonstrated through the senior positions he held in trade and training organisations and in him being an advocate for strong links between the worlds of industry and the colleges and university sector. William’s family, energy industry representatives and senior University staff attended the Revolutionising the Future of Engineering event held on 8 April.

Donella Beaton, Vice Principal for Economic Development at RGU, said: “William Anderson’s legacy continues to reflect the strong foundations he laid as an engineer and an entrepreneur, both critical then and now to the national economy.

“Engineering in all its forms is a vital discipline not only through energy transition but in all industries, and therefore it is crucial to ensure that young people hear that message consistently when they are making decisions about their future.

Engineering was a lifelong passion for William Anderson. He understood the importance of promoting careers in engineering and we are now building on his legacy to ensure that goes from strength to strength”.

His son, Iain Anderson and son-in-law Mark Twigg, said: “William Anderson, our father, was passionate about engineering. From his first ever toy ‘Meccano set’ to his time in the shipyards of Glasgow to travelling the world in the Merchant Navy to building a world leading business, Wilmar Engineering here in Aberdeen, his restless curiosity was inspired by learning at RGU where he started his engineering story.

“He gave back to hundreds of students as chair of the Engineering Training Board and the Aberdeen Mechanical Society. We wanted to give back to RGU to inspire the next generation of engineers on their journey.”

First year Mechanical Engineering student Corey Sangster spoke enthusiastically about engineering and the career that RGU can help create. Corey attended Hazlehead Academy then went on to complete an apprenticeship in industry as a welder and fabricator. With a desire to learn more, Corey joined RGU last year and was awarded a Baker Hughes Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering.

Iain Anderson has fostered valuable links with the University’s School of Engineering and recently generously donated a large digital screen that is used to enhance the student experience and highlight the opportunities RGU can offer budding engineers as they take their first tentative steps in this exciting and ever evolving industry.

The donation comes at a time of huge change in the energy industry with an opportunity to increase the offshore workforce by up to 50% from over 150,000 in 2023 to 225,000 by the end of the decade with new renewable jobs outnumbering oil and gas roles.

William Anderson founded Wilmar Engineering in 1965 in East Tullos, with the company going on to employ 50 staff. He was also a former President of Aberdeen Mechanical Society, a vice chair of the Engineering Industries Association in Scotland and Engineering Industries Training Board.

He was committed to ensuring young people had a passion for engineering and he saw to it that many apprentices were guided by his experience in the field he loved. William Anderson passed away at the age of 88 in 2021.

Situated in the energy capital of Europe, RGU is committed to producing industry ready, highly employable, next generation engineers across a range of disciplines. The University also works closely with companies to ensure its courses continue to meet the demands of employers and their changing industries.

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