Data Centre Engineer of the Year
Black & White (B&W) Engineering is a multinational specialist engineering company headquartered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We have two more UK offices in Edinburgh and London. In the UK, we employ 44 employees nationwide. We also have teams in the Middle East, Asia and Australia and our global headcount currently stands at 200. As ‘One Team’ (the B&W ethos), we are driven to, and passionate about, delivering high quality, sustainable mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering design services.
Our engineering expertise and experience enables us to specialise in large scale complex projects in a range of sectors, including mission critical facilities such as data centres, which is one of our key industries. Within the MEP engineering industry, data centres are considered to be amongst the most technically challenging but highly rewarding projects for engineers with the MEP systems front and centre of the project.
Black & White is internationally renowned for our innovative, client specific data centre design with a long-established reputation in delivering state-of-the-art datacentre modelling. Each of our engineers are of the highest calibre, with specialist experience and a strong skillset.
However, there’s one engineer that really does stand out from the rest and that’s 29-year-old Charlie Bater who works in our London office. Charlie is one of the finest. As an Associate Director within our business, Charlie works on our largest and most prominent datacentre design projects and is the key client contact. His role sees him travel globally to work closely with clients and he’s led projects in Spain, France, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK.
Experience and skillset
With a decade of industry experience, Charlie has worked on numerous data centre builds in varying capacities - as the client’s consultant, the design and build contractor’s consultant and directly for a client as a project manager/subject matter expert.
After completing an apprenticeship in electrical contracting, Charlie started his career on the delivery side of the sector as a contractor. This provided entry into the specific MEP electrical engineering industry as well as the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience, learning work ready skills. After completing his apprenticeship Charlie studied part time at university (while working full time as an electrical contractor) and graduated with a First Class Honours in Building Services Engineering (BEng) in 2016. After several successful years as a contractor, Charlie moved into engineering design consultancy - in the data centre industry specifically - and joined B&W in 2018.
Charlie has been truly instrumental in the successful delivery of our large-scale datacentre projects, ensuring design concepts are fit for purpose and practically feasible. He’s had a plethora of design experience including involvement in Electrical Power Management Systems (EPMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS), ranging from simple monitoring systems in 5 MW facilities to sitewide developments exceeding 100 MW whereby all control and monitoring systems share hardware infrastructure. In the last year, Charlie has led the electrical design for various data centre schemes ranging from concept to construction for a total of over 500 MWIT capacity.
His datacentre specific experience includes basic monitoring, generator control system management and integrated communications networks encompassing all critical systems control (EPMS and BMS). He is well versed with all standard communication protocols, and IEC 61850 (GOOSE) where low latency has been a key client metric.
In addition to design, Charlie has worked with critical monitoring and control systems at an operations level including during a recent secondment working on behalf of a client where he led a team responsible for a root-cause analysis on defective control systems. Charlie identified the root cause of a critical CRAC unit failure during a routine power cycle and provided an alternate control strategy which still remains in place today.
His hunger to learn and develop combined with his tenacity to seize professional development opportunities has led to Charlie becoming B&W’s leader in our electrical engineering datacentre design team.
Charlie has also achieved Accredited Tier Designer (ATD) status with the Uptime Institute, a specialist accreditation for professional engineers.
As a key member of B&W’s technical committee, Charlie co-led the development of B&W’s inhouse reliability study (5 9s) calculation tool and reporting structure giving the company wider new business opportunities, as well as providing a more comprehensive service to clients. This has enabled B&W to offer a turn-key solution in datacentre design for multiple data centre projects rather than needing to outsource to external sub-consultants. It means the company can undertake works faster and more accurately over a shorter period of time - ultimately benefiting clients.
As well as leading multiple international datacentre projects for B&W Charlie has also played a key role in the development and training of our other engineers.
He is B&W’s lead mentor in data centre electrical engineering design services and has successfully onboarded six new employees, with no prior data centre experience, developing them into highly skilled and fully qualified data centre engineers.
Charlie has created and provided specific training sessions on different aspects of datacentre engineering design. He provides good opportunities for members of the team to develop within a supportive framework that ensures projects are delivered in accordance with B&W’s exceptionally high standards.
As part of his responsibility in managing our team of electrical engineers in the London office, Charlie is also the direct line manager of three employees, shaping their progression and providing support as and when needed.
Work ethic and character
Charlie has demonstrated a strong track record in delivering challenging projects to tight deadlines and working on such projects has enabled him to develop his ability to multitask to a high degree of detail.
As the financial lead on several of our datacentre projects as well as owning overarching client account management, Charlie displays an incredible level of maturity, level headedness and diligence to get the job done and get it done to an incredibly high standard.
He truly embodies the unique culture at Black & White and our core ethos which is based on our ‘One Team’ approach to working.
Why should Charlie win?
Charlie continues to raise the bar in multiple ways across the business. Whether it’s leading on innovative, game changing datacentre engineering design, supporting other engineers in their professional growth or simply explaining how to do a job and do it exceedingly well, Charlie shows up every single day, smashing targets and driving ever higher standards for us all.
He’s determined, ambitious, switched on and skilled. Combine this with some of his excellent personal qualities of empathy, cooperation, positivity and responsiveness he’s not only a ‘poster B&W employee’ but he encapsulates everything you need to become an incredible, intelligent and innovative engineer.
Charlie leaves no stone unturned in finding the optimum solution for his teammates and clients. This strive for excellence in design, in the workplace and for our clients has significantly supported our rapid growth as a company over the past 12 months with both existing and new projects. His client management skills with two large clients specifically have helped to generate nearly £2 million in turnover. His effort, attitude and skillset are faultless. We believe Charlie should be recognised for the valued and undeniable contribution he makes to the datacentre and engineering industries.
A highly respected, incredibly liked and hugely talented engineer, Charlie continues to go above and beyond to meet client requirements as well as his colleagues needs too. He’s not afraid to challenge senior leadership decisions positively and whatever the project entails and the potential problems that the team may face, you know you’re in a safe pair of hands with Charlie - safe, reliable, competent and experienced. We can’t think any more highly of him than we already do. He genuinely is a real asset to Black & White and the wider MEP engineering industry. If anyone deserves to win this award, it’s Charlie.