Meet the Corrosion Specialist: Dr Yunnan Gao

Meet the Corrosion Specialist: Dr Yunnan Gao

11 Questions in 11 Minutes

This month, we have been speaking to Dr Yunnan Gao, twice past Chair of the Aberdeen Branch of the Institute of Corrosion and recently elected as the Institute’s Vice President.

A Fellow of ICorr (FICorr), a certified corrosion specialist of AMPP, a chartered engineer (CEng), a chartered scientist (CSci), and a fellow of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (FIMMM), Yunnan currently works for BP as a Pressure System Integrity Engineer based in Sunbury.

Here is what he told us about his career to date – plus a couple of little-known facts about his personal life.

1.     What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

When I was young, I held an aspiration to become a doctor. I was deeply inspired by a doctor’s ability to alleviate suffering and provide comfort to those in need. The idea of being able to diagnose and treat ailments resonated with my innate curiosity and compassion.

Though I didn’t manage to study medicine, I did become a doctor – though in engineering.

2.     So, how did you end up as a corrosion specialist?

Having completed my PhD, MSc and BEng in materials and metallurgy, I was offered a job as a Material and Corrosion engineer at the former Research and Technology Centre of British Gas (later becoming DNV GL). I had two great mentors, Dr Tim Illson and Dr Glyn Morgan. It is to them that I owe my love of corrosion.

3.     What was that first job like?

That first foray into material and corrosion engineering proved to be a significant milestone in my career. I was excited to apply my academic knowledge and skills that I had developed in the realm of professional engineering.

Over the course of five-and-a-half years in that first job, I tackled many industrial issues and challenges related to material and corrosion for worldwide clients. From conducting laboratory tests to carrying out desktop studies, from polishing metal samples and examining them using microscopy, to running corrosion modelling and undertaking risk-based assessment, I played a crucial role in ensuring the integrity and reliability of equipment.

Most of the projects I worked on in my first job were in the oil and gas industry, including material selection, corrosion modelling, risk-based assessment, and integrity threat assessments. I also carried out various projects for global oil and gas operators and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors which included secondments to Oman and London to fulfil project requirements.

4.     You decided to stick with oil and gas. How did your career progress?

In September 2013, I moved to Aberdeen in the UK North Sea working as a Senior Corrosion Engineer. Here I was tasked with overseeing the assets of Repsol Sinopec (formerly Talisman). This included working under the integrity management contract of Lloyd’s Register and Atkins and in-house employment.

In 2020, I was contracted by Saipem in France as a corrosion specialist and worked on some exciting asset integrity projects with ENI and Total assets. Subsequently, in 2021 I worked for Stork as a Senior Integrity Engineer managing pressure system integrity management of two assets owned by INEOS.

I joined BP in Sunbury, London in May 2022 as a Pressure Systems and Integrity Engineer, responsible for deploying the integrity management programmes to BP’s global oil and gas assets.

5.     What have you enjoyed most about your career in corrosion?

The diverse and challenging nature of corrosion has made my career in this field immensely enjoyable and meaningful. The ever-evolving challenges and constant need for innovative solutions have kept me engaged and driven. Each project presents a unique set of circumstances, requiring a thorough understanding of materials, environmental factors, and corrosion mechanisms.

Furthermore, I have relished the opportunity to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to develop comprehensive strategies for corrosion prevention and mitigation. The continuous learning and problem-solving aspects of the job have allowed me to expand my knowledge and expertise, making each day both exciting and fulfilling.

Being a large, global company, my current employer, BP, offers me the privilege of working within many interesting activities.

6.     What career advice would you give to a young corrosion specialist?

To be open to continuous learning and remain updated with the latest advances in the corrosion field. One of the most exciting aspects of this industry is that corrosion is a dynamic discipline with new technologies, materials, and techniques emerging regularly.

Therefore, investing time in attending conferences, workshops, and seminars, as well as engaging in relevant professional organisations, like the Institute of Corrosion (ICorr), can greatly enhance one’s knowledge and expertise.

Additionally, seeking mentorship from experienced corrosion professionals can provide valuable guidance and insights – and the Institute is a great organisation for networking and finding mentors.

7.     What is in store for corrosion professionals?

I believe that the growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection will drive the development of innovative corrosion prevention and mitigation technologies. This includes the exploration of new materials, coatings, and corrosion-resistant alloys.

Additionally, the integration of digital technologies will revolutionise the way corrosion is managed. Corrosion professionals will play a vital role in implementing and optimising these advanced techniques to enhance asset integrity and lifespan.

8.     What have you gained from your membership of ICorr?

Being a member of the ICorr has been an invaluable experience, enriching both my personal and professional growth. ICorr’s seminars, workshops, and technical sessions have provided excellent platforms for networking with fellow corrosion professionals, sharing knowledge, and staying abreast of the latest advances in the field.

As a committee member of ICorr Aberdeen Branch for 9 years, and as its Chair for two sessions in a row, I have developed a rich, first-hand experience on the operation regional branches and their value and impact to the whole ICorr community, corrosion industry, and beyond.

Finally, while serving on the professional membership assessment committee (PAC) for three years, I have had the opportunity to assess and welcome new and like-minded corrosion professionals to the ICorr Community. This has been inspiring and self-fulfilling.

Let’s get personal with the corrosion professional!

We know that corrosion scientists aren’t all work and no play, so we asked Yunnan three final questions to learn a little more about him personally.

9.     What’s your favourite food?

Although I left China for the UK 20 years ago, my favourite food is still Chinese food, especially hot and spicy dishes. From classic dishes like Kung Pao chicken and Mapo tofu, to lesser-known delights like Chongqing hot pot, Chinese hot and spicy cuisine never fail to tantalise my senses.

10. What do you like doing most outside of your professional life?

Watching sports is one of my favourite pastimes. In terms of physical activity, playing basketball and badminton are top choices for me. The strategic gameplay of badminton motivates me to play. Another activity I thoroughly enjoy is swimming, which helps me relax and recharge. Lastly, I like jogging as it allows me to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as clear my mind.

11. Tell us a secret about yourself, something that might surprise fellow members (and something we can print!)

Over the last three years I have spent much of my spare time learning French. I’ve found it to be a beautiful language and easy to become immersed in its grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. I find great joy in exploring the intricacies of the language and striving to improve my knowledge and use of it, although I am still at the very basic level as we speak.

What do you want to ask a corrosion specialist?

Like so many other members of ICorr, Yunnan has enjoyed a career that has delivered huge variety of work and, aided by his involvement with the Institute of Corrosion, a network of professional colleagues and friends around the world.

Thank you, Yunnan, for your involvement in ICorr and your contribution as a corrosion specialist.

Right then, readers! What would you like us to ask the next ICorr member in our next ‘Meet the Corrosion Specialist’ interview? If you have a question for them, send us an email and we’ll try to get it answered.

The Future of Young ICorr

The Future of Young ICorr

View From the Chair

Young ICorr is an integral part of the Institute of Corrosion, with a remit that encompasses close collaboration with ICorr’s branches. This year, it has taken on the administration and management of the Young Engineer’s Programme (YEP). While this will now be a major focus for the Young ICorr committee, it is by no means the only role it plays.

Young ICorr has a huge responsibility to feed people from all quarters into the industry-leading education and qualification opportunities delivered by the Institute – undoubtedly one of the corrosion industry’s best accredited providers,” says James McGladdery, the chair of Young ICorr. “This is crucial for those who need qualifications in, for example, coatings or cathodic protection – professionals who go into the field and solve problems on the ground.

To this end, Young ICorr organises several networking events throughout the year; delivers an outreach program to reach a new audience and be more inclusive toward non-university students; and acts as the conduit for senior corrosion professionals to offer mentorships and career guidance to those in the first 10 years of their career in corrosion.

We caught up with James to get a feel for what his role is in all of this, and to ask about his view for the future of Young ICorr.

Fitting In the Young ICorr Role with a Busy Life

James estimates that he spends an average of around a day each month on his role as Chair of Young ICorr. Most of this time is spent feeding back into Young ICorr’s objectives, and reporting to the Trustees and Council of the Institute.

In many ways, what we do is the market research of the future of ICorr, and this is very much understood by ICorr’s senior figures,” says James. “A lot of what I do is to ensure we align with the Institute’s overarching objectives, and feeding back on that.”

I’m fortunate to work for a very inclusive employer, the UK National Nuclear Laboratory. They provide me with a little time each month for my work as Chair of Young ICorr,” James says.

Then again, I think the Institute of Corrosion, Young ICorr, and my employer share many objectives, including to support the energy infrastructure and engineering assets within the UK and on the world stage. That’s either done through developing different energy sources, or through preventing metals from corroding: different approaches to a shared goal.”

However, the time that James allots to his ICorr role doesn’t include attending events and meetings, which James says he doesn’t see as work. “Even though I may be ultimately responsible for Young ICorr’s events and programs, when I’m there I am also benefitting from attending.”

Reigniting the Young ICorr Brand Post-Covid

Like many companies, groups, and bodies, Young ICorr’s modus operandi was forced to undertake a complete shift because of Covid.

We had to transition how we operated. Introductory sessions became virtual meetings,” explains James. “These just aren’t the same as in-person events. So we’re now having to transition back, and this means restarting our in-person university and social events.

I also want to crack into the college market, too. So we’re trying to build on existing connections and develop new openings. Part of this is gaining a greater understanding of what value we can bring to this cohort.”

It’s also important that we have the mindset that we can evolve and adapt very quickly to deliver what young engineers need – which is not the same as the young engineers of 10 years ago. Even though we might not be able to do all we need to today, we’ll find ways to deliver what is required of us tomorrow.”

Broadening the appeal of the industry at early career and education stages

It’s struck me that the way that Young ICorr is currently set up – and the way the Young Engineer’s Programme has been run historically – with the traditional events and outreach, is really a split between industry and academia,” says James.

This means that we’re missing a lot of great potential. People who do apprenticeships or vocational training, for example. Yet the YEP program offers a huge amount of practical knowledge provided by some of the world’s leading corrosion practitioners.

“What we’d like to do is evolve our role to incorporate everyone across the spectrum. There’s a huge niche that we can tap into there. We need to lead the conversation that broadens our reach. Just like it’s not all about oil and gas, it’s not all about getting a university education.”

Putting in place various initiatives should help to beat skills shortages, by improving awareness of the industry and the ways to become qualified in corrosion-related careers. We need people who probably haven’t completed a PhD, but people who need the knowledge and appropriate qualifications to go into the field and solve problems on the ground.

Future-Proofing ICorr

Speaking to James is refreshing, not only because of his persona, but also because of his self-awareness. He sees his strength as leading a team of people, each of whom has unique skills, knowledge, and capability to bring to the table. And he’s building the team that can achieve Young ICorr’s goals.

I can set the picture, and get the ball rolling, but I feel it is the people involved that will help to drive a bright future for Young ICorr and the Institute of Corrosion in the longer term,” he says. “Young ICorr committee members like Ben Lee, Izabela Gajewska, and Josie Watson are likely to become the driving force in the future.

Then there are people like Danny Burkle, who provides a wealth of knowledge about ICorr as well as the connections that help us function effectively.

In many ways, I’m an industry outsider. That’s a good thing because I can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. In the long term, though, it will be people like Ben, Izabela, and Josie that have the greatest impact on the future of ICorr.”

To learn more about this vibrant and forward-looking sector of the Institute of Corrosion, visit the Young ICorr pages on the ICorr website, or email us at

A Conversation with the Outgoing Editor of ICorr’s magazine, Corrosion Management

A Conversation with the Outgoing Editor of ICorr’s magazine, Corrosion Management

“My Time as Editor – Why on Earth am I Leaving?”

Brian Goldie has recently retired from his role as Editor for Corrosion Management magazine, the leading journal for corrosion prevention and control. We’re sorry to see him go, and wish him well for the future. Before his last hurrah, we caught up with him to learn about his experience as an editor, which spans around 25 years, with seven years as editor of Corrosion Management.

Brian’s journey to editorship started just a ‘few’ years ago…

Foundations in R&D

After gaining a degree in Chemistry from Glasgow University, Brian joined a major oil company in its regional R&D department. Focussing on researching new catalysts for High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) polymerisation, it was here that Brian first learned about the need for accuracy.

My responsibilities included report writing for management and patent applications. There’s no room for ambiguity,” Brian says. “Not only was the research rigorous, so too was the writing. At the time this part of the job was more than a little challenging. Looking back, I realise just what a concrete foundation the experience and learning gave me. A solid start to a career that morphed a few times over the years.”

Careering into Corrosion Protection

Brian continued working in R&D, though a departmental move and change of business forced a change of focus in his career.

Though still in R&D, the business change brought about the first major step-change in my career. From concentrating on catalysts and polymerisation, I was now looking at resins and pigments for coatings. Initially, this was for marine hull coatings, but this progressed to corrosion protection systems,” Brian tells us. “This became the focus of the rest of my career.

What appealed most to me about corrosion protection was its very varied nature and the scope this gave me to explore many aspects of this and on many different structures and equipment.”

A Role Taking on Greater Writing Focus

Brian’s role was becoming increasingly biased toward communication. His responsibilities included writing technical articles for learned journals and preparing presentations on the technologies he and his colleagues had developed.

Those lessons I had learned so early in my career proved to be exceptionally useful. I found myself at the communication sharp end. Writing articles and presenting, myself or as a team, around the world in conferences and targeted presentations to paint manufacturers,” Brian reminisces.

Giving presentations also helped me to make many good contacts, and this has proved invaluable when recruiting articles for the magazines I’ve edited.”

Experience and opportunity lubricated the next career move

Though it didn’t seem like it, I had been in the oil industry for 25 years when I decided to make a move,” Brian says. “I left to become a consultant in the surface coatings industry. It was during this phase of me career that I discovered a gap in the market.”

The discovery that Brian had made he still finds perplexing to this day.

There was only one technical journal that met the needs of this market based in the USA. Serendipity allowed me to meet the owner of this journal, and it seemed we had joint interests in working in the market in Europe.”

The result?

I morphed again. I became an editor, a role I have fulfilled for the last 25 years,” Brian says. The publications that Brian has edited for include the Journal of Protective Coatings and Linings (JPCL), Protective Coatings Europe (PCE), and a company in-house magazine.

The allure of Corrosion Management Magazine

So, here was the big question. Why did Brian want to be editor of Corrosion Management?

Because of my career as a corrosion professional, I had been a member of the Institute of Corrosion for many years. Consequently, I’d been reading the Corrosion Management magazine for a long while,” Brian begins. “But the magazine seemed to have lost some of its relevance to our market. It had ceased to highlight important advances in the science and technology of corrosion and corroisn control.

The magazine was a major benefit of membership of ICorr. That benefit had been eroded – or perhaps I should say corroded!

Not one for holding back, Brian decided to approach the President at the time John Fletcher, and suggest a new approach to reinvigorate the publication.

I’m not one to not blow my own trumpet,” Brian jokes. “I was asked to give a presentation to the Council outlining what I thought I could change and do better. The rest is history.”

Why put your red pen in the ink well?

To anyone who meets Brian, it’s clear that he not only has a flair for editing, but that he is also passionate about the accuracy of the written word. Which brings us to our last question: why on earth have you decided to put your editor’s pen back in the ink well?

If you’ve paid attention to my story, you’ll see I’m getting on a bit!” Brian chuckles. “I feel that it is now time for me to relax in the sun – or at least what sun we get in South London. I want the time to enjoy my grandchildren as they grow up.

We can’t blame him. After so many years of dedicated service to the industry and as editor of Corrosion Management, Brian does deserve more time for himself and his family.

Oh, don’t get me wrong,” says Brian. “You’re not getting shot of me completely. I’ll still be taking an active interest in ICorr, and I’ll be very pleased to pass on my experience and the lessons I’ve learned along the way to younger members, and, of course, to the incoming editor of Corrosion Management.

Brian, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Where to now for Corrosion Management magazine?

Brian has been helping Dr Shagufta Khan settle into the role of Consultant Editor.

Dr Khan brings more than a decade of experience in the corrosion industry to the table. She has published 15 research papers on steel research and corrosion management in international journals and conferences, and has presented worldwide, including invited lectures, on topics like asset integrity, corrosion management and steel research.

While sorry to see Brian leave the role, we are happy to welcome Shagufta into it. Onwards and upwards!

The Role of Young ICorr in the Institute of Corrosion

The Role of Young ICorr in the Institute of Corrosion

The Future is Bright. The Future is Young ICorr

It may be a cliché, but the successful future of the corrosion industry relies upon developing up-and-coming talent. Here at the Institute of Corrosion, we have a dedicated space to nurturing this talent – Young ICorr.

We are the primary network of corrosion engineers from the late stages of education through their early career,” says James McGladdery, current Chair of Young ICorr. “Our purpose is to connect our younger engineers with industry professionals, provide opportunities to mentorship, and provide guidance on further education.  We have a strong focus on students working in the area of corrosion.”

Structure of Young ICorr

Young ICorr doesn’t operate within the regional/branch structure. Rather, its focus is nationwide.

Like other groups within the Institute of Corrosion, Young ICorr is managed by a committee which ensures all the needs of younger engineers are met. The Committee is structured with several sub-committees, each with responsibility for achieving specific objectives. As Chair, James oversees each of these sub-committees.

Roles and Responsibilities of Young ICorr

The title Young ICorr is something of a misnomer. The group caters for a wide age range, based on industry experience.

Young ICorr is primarily for the benefit of early career professionals ─ generally speaking, professionals up to 10 years into their corrosion careers,” says James. “But we also provide an opportunity for experienced engineers and scientists to mentor the next generation.”

So, what does Young ICorr deliver to its membership?

Young ICorr has a huge responsibility to feed people from all quarters into the industry-leading education and qualification opportunities delivered by the Institute – undoubtedly one of the corrosion industry’s best accredited providers,” says James. “This is crucial for those who need qualifications in, for example, coatings or cathodic protection – professionals who go into the field and solve problems on the ground.

In this regard, Young ICorr is responsible for the Young Engineer Programme, linking members with mentors, providing help with chartership, and career guidance. To accomplish all this, Young ICorr provides a conduit for more senior corrosion professionals to contribute to the future of our industry through helping Young ICorr achieve its goals and mission.

Previous Chair Danny Burkle has prime responsibility for student outreach. Having many connections with universities, Danny facilitates our student outreach programs, including presentations to introduce the corrosion industry and ICorr in universities, and developing summer placement opportunities.

James has also enlisted the help of Ben Lee to extend the reach of Young ICorr to a new audience. Ben’s sub-committee has a remit to encompass a wider industry focus and be more inclusive toward non-university talent outside of the traditional split between industry and academia. As James puts it, “In the education system, there’s a whole generation who may be unaware that, just by joining this network, you’ll have access to a career roadmap and the qualifications you need to navigate your course.”

Young ICorr also organises several networking events through the year. These are very much social events, though often with a senior speaker in attendance. These help to provide a pathfinding view for young engineers – and are great opportunities to receive career advice.

Izabella Gajewska is heavily involved with the events organized by Young ICorr, especially in the Northeast, and Josie Watson does similar work for Young ICorr in the Northwest.

The Young Engineer Program (YEP), run biannually, is a case study-based program accompanied by a series of lectures that feed into it. You don’t have to be an ICorr member to participate, and those on the program range from students to CEng professionals. At the end of the program, certificates and awards are presented – including free attendance at international conferences and leadership courses.

How to get involved in Young ICorr

Just attend our events – you don’t need to be a member of the Institute of Corrosion to do so!

Of course, there’s a lot to be gained from membership of the Institute of Corrosion, and we offer free student membership. But to participate in Young ICorr events, membership is not a prerequisite,” explains James.

We operate introductory sessions virtually, and now that Covid is in our rear-view mirror, we’re starting back with our university events and lectures. We’re also keen to take Young ICorr to colleges, using existing and new connections to do so.”

To learn more about this vibrant and forward-looking sector of the Institute of Corrosion, visit the Young ICorr pages on the ICorr website, or email us at