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UEL mapping sciences alumni are leaders in their fields

surveying students onsite

As co-directors of Plowman Craven, trio have worked on a number of high-profile projects

As mapping science students in east London in the 1980s, Andy Molloy, David Norris and Peter Folwell shared a flat. They were undergraduates studying together at North East London Polytechnic – now the University of East London (UEL). 

Today, they are co-directors of Plowman Craven, a pioneering surveying, monitoring, and mapping firm which has been a national leader in the use of 3D scanning, drones and other technology.

The trio are recognised as some of the leading experts in the UK in their respective fields.

Andy (left) became managing director of Plowman Craven in 2009, and led a buy-out of the then-owners in 2012. He currently spearheads year-on-year business growth.

Peter (right) is one of the country’s leading experts in the application of the International Property Measurement Standards, while David (centre) is recognised internationally as a leading authority on the adoption and advancement of innovative practice in geomatics.

Andy said, “We were the first firm in our sector to pioneer the use of 3D scanning to map and survey structures, starting about 15 to 16 years ago. Today, the use of drones and building information modelling is the new frontier, and we’re working to make sure we’re at the forefront.” 

Plowman Craven has a fleet of three high-end drones and four licensed drone pilots.

Being on the cutting-edge has resulted in a number of high-profile projects for the firm, including the renovation and redevelopment of King’s Cross Station and work on Crossrail, Broadgate Arena, Wembley Stadium, the Royal Estates, and the Houses of Parliament.

Andy said that he, Peter and David were single-minded in their pursuit of a career in the industry. He said, “I loved the subject of mapping science as a college student, so it was an easy choice when it came to picking a university degree.

“My time at university was great for getting a wealth of knowledge and solid theory. One of our main lecturers, Dr Brian Whiting, is still at UEL.”

David and Peter joined Plowman Craven straight after graduating, building on the knowledge and experience they gained at university. Andy spent a few years with other firms before joining his former flatmates at the firm in 1987.  

Andy said, “My first job after graduating was with a company that sent me up to Scotland for a three month stint. It was quite a feat as a young man of 21 fresh out of university. But it was what I wanted – to be out of the office, on site, problem solving, and close to the land. There was a steep learning curve.” 

He said his career in mapping sciences has opened up a world of opportunities, including work trips to North Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and across the UK. 

He said, “I’ve been with the firm for 30 years, which sounds like a lot, but really there has been so much variety, across surveying, project management, operations, and now at the director level. 

“It probably sounds cheesy to say, but I still love Monday mornings, coming into work, taking on new challenges and leading our strategies.” 

What is Andy’s advice to current students and new graduates? 

He said, “The skill set is important: being able to use the tech and make sense of the data for clients. But we can teach and train new employees, fill in the knowledge gaps. 

“What’s really crucial is demonstrable enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and evidence that students and graduates have tried to get work experience. That will help them when it comes to job applications, interviews, and getting that all-important first job.”