Heriot-Watt degrees for father and daughter duo

Graeme Collie and daughter Morven graduated from Heriot-Watt University on the same day in the same subject of Mechanical Engineering. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Graeme Collie and daughter Morven graduated from Heriot-Watt University on the same day in the same subject of Mechanical Engineering. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THEY are the three degrees marking the engineering passion of one Edinburgh family over more than a century.

Graeme Collie, who received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Heriot-Watt University yesterday, said he was overjoyed to see daughter Morven graduate with a Masters during the same ceremony – and in exactly the same subject.

Proceedings were given added poignancy since they brought back memories of Graeme’s grandfather, William Fraser Oliver, who also gained a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Heriot-Watt in 1914.

Mr Collie, 52, said: “It was unexpectedly emotional at the ceremony because of the realisation of continuity over generations. It almost felt like the baton was being passed on – as if I have reached the apogee of what I’m doing and things are now being passed to my daughter.”

Mr Collie, from Silverknowes, who now works as an engineering manager for global energy services giant FMC Technologies, explained that his grandfather gained a diploma from Heriot-Watt when it was still a college – and later returned to the institution as a lecturer from 1920 until his retirement in 1959.

He said the legacy of engineering passion passed on by his grandfather had also been strengthened by his father, John, who, although not a graduate of Heriot-Watt, was a chief engineer in the merchant navy. He said: “When I was growing up, I was very interested in how things fitted together and my grandfather always took the time to explain to me how things worked. I wanted to understand how things broke and I think that’s what took me to engineering – which is understanding why things work and why they don’t work.”

And Graeme explained that, thanks to his dad, engineering wasn’t all study and hard work.

“My father had a real passion for military engineering – boats and aircraft,” he said.

“He and I both had a very intense interest in military aviation and that developed within me into a passion for classic motorcycles.

“As a teenager I always rode classic motorcycles and restoring them was what I did, and still do as a hobby.”

Watching his daughter, now 22, continuing the family tradition by becoming an engineer and pursuing her ambition at Heriot-Watt had made him “exceptionally proud”.

He said: “The university has a reputation for turning out engineers who have a very practical way of looking at engineering problems. It’s a fantastic institution that turns out first rate engineers.”

Also watching Graeme graduate during yesterday’s ceremony was proud mum Jean, 82.

She said: “No-one expected Graeme and Morven to graduate on the same day – but to watch them was lovely.”