Clifford (Cliff) Simmons has been serving NATA as a Technical Assessor since 1970, firstly in Non-destructive Testing and then in Mechanical Testing (now Physical Performance Testing and Materials Characterization) and Inspection. He is a metallurgical engineer and had a lifetime of employment in the Victorian Railways and its successor organizations, before retiring and being able to devote more time to NATA matters, amongst other activities.
The railways were a strong supporter of NATA, and after several years, while in my mid-twenties, I was put forward as an Approved Signatory and following this, was asked to become a Technical Assessor. At the time I was told that, being a Technical Assessor was considered a real “feather in one’s cap”, so I gratefully accepted the offer. Training was on-the job only – no courses back then, but I had the benefit of starting out with very experienced Assessors. Also, at this time, the Assessor performed much of what is now the Lead Assessor’s tasks. I certainly learnt a lot in my early assessments.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of assessing in every State of Australia as well as throughout New Zealand for Telarc and IANZ. I have seen industries and locations in both countries that otherwise I would have never seen and I’m sure that this has broadened my technical skills. One of the great benefits is in being exposed to operations outside one’s own working environment. I always enjoy the exchange of ideas and knowledge with technical personnel of the facilities visited. There is always something new to pick up, as well as hopefully passing on some information of value.
My employer, in common with other semi-government agencies, was a strong supporter of what is now Standards Australia. This led me to involvement in the development of non-destructive testing standards, and NATA assessments gave the opportunity to see how these were being applied in practice.
I’ve also found that NATA staff have always been a pleasure to work with, and are very accommodating in providing the documentation and support necessary for a successful assessment. I like to hope that, over the years, I’ve been able to contribute positively to the on-going reliability of the outputs of testing.
One of the challenges in being semi-retired is in keeping up with technical developments, but by various means, I’ve been fortunate in this regard.
I also believe that my assessment activities help me to maintain intellectual ability and to keep me young at heart.Clifford Simmons