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Scotland’s Engineer of the Year was inspired by M77 construction work

A Glasgow engineer whose passion for the subject started when he was in his pram has told how an early fascination with the M77 motorway led him to picking up Scottish Engineering and the Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow’s Young Engineer of the Year award.

Greg Barnard, a design engineer with Allied Vehicles Group, won the accolade for his leading role in the mechanical design and testing of the drive-from Peugeot Rifter-based Inspire wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV).

The vehicle’s innovative design enables the user to guide their wheelchair into the vehicle via a ramp from the rear-end, and drive from the space vacated by the fold-away driver’s seat.

“It’s the social impact of the vehicles that we create that is the most rewarding and a large part behind the award win,” said Greg.

“I personally get so much pride and value our of creating products that have a tangible impact on society. It’s definitely a team victory and much of the success of the design is down to fellow Allied engineers Dave Reekie and Ross Murdoch.”

Greg said his earliest memory – which sparked his love of engineering – was his parents taking him in his pram to a bridge overlooking the site where the M77 was under construction.

Such was his fascination and his pleas to return, that his father took a videocamera on to the bridge and gave his son two hours of footage of the project which he watched repeatedly in the comfort of his own home.

At Hutchesons’ Grammar School, in Glasgow, Greg was captivated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, and mechanical engineering was a clear choice for the degree course he subsequently followed.

He graduated from Strathclyde University, which is renowned for its engineering programmes, in 2015 and, eschewing placements in oil and gas, aerospace and defence, he joined Allied Vehicles to put into practice the theories he had studied. It also meant he could combine his love of all things automotive with his hobby of go-karting.

Greg started from the bottom and worked his way up through several WAV projects in a “gamble” by Allied: “This was more of a company that traditionally took engineers with experience, and they took a little punt with me. That paid off for both of us.”

Four years after joining the company and getting his hands dirty underneath the Peugeot Horizon ­WAV ­– the Peugeot Partner base model – Greg was given the task of redesigning it as the new Peugeot Rifter-based Inspire, one of the most complex design challenges Allied has ever undertaken.

However, his earlier work meant he could quickly get to grips with every area of the design and understand the challenges from design and production perspectives.

Greg says he’s a lucky man: “There aren’t many people who are able to match their passion and hobby to their day job. I really do appreciate how fortunate I am.”

Engineering even plays a big role in his main hobby ­– he competes in the British Prokart Endurance Championship ­– go-kart races of between six and 24 hours, which he says means he doesn’t really switch off: “The endurance racing is definitely a marathon, not a sprint and I love looking at ways we can constantly improve.”

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Greg Barnard, Scotland's Young Engineer of the Year combines work with his hobby of go-karting

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