In part two of our series on the Wolmer's Auditorium, we feature alum Tommy Lyew who is the structural engineer on the project. Tommy attended Wolmer's between 1948 and 1951 after a short stint at St. George's College. After leaving sixth form, he started his career at the Barclay's Bank (now National Commercial Bank) but realized after three years in the job that banking was not for him. He left for the United Kingdom in September 1952 to study engineering at the Battersea College, University of London. After graduating, Tommy's internship was at Ove Arup & Partners where the experience was at a higher level than what he was exposed to at the undergraduate level. In the true Wolmerian spirit, he went back to pursue his post graduate studies so that he could better appreciate the challenges of engineering. He received the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Scholarship to complete his Master's in Civil Engineering at Imperial College.
Despite an offer to take up a lucrative job at Ove Arup & Partners, Tommy decided to return home in January 1961. Almost immediately, he was appointed the Resident Engineer for the building of the National Stadium, which had to be completed by April 1962 in time for the Commonwealth Games.
After completing the National Stadium, he went to work at Alcoa Minerals where on one of his excursions, he met and became lifetime friends with a young businessman by the name of Francis "Paco" Kennedy. Paco was very impressed with Tommy's engineering ideas and encouraged him to start his own business, which he did with two other friends: Lloyd Hue and Noel Chin. That business, Hue Lyew & Chin is one of Jamaica's most respected engineering companies today. Tommy's engineering skills can be seen at the Scotia Centre, Seabed Authority Centre and the National Gallery to name a few.
Tommy was approached by fellow alum and Trustee Douglas Orane to join the project committee. “I immediately said 'yes' and asked when were we going to begin" he said with a warm smile. “After hanging up with Doug, I called Laurie and asked him if he would like to be the Quantity Surveyor, which he happily agreed to do.”
Tommy is encouraging current students to pay close attention to the changing World of technology. “You should consider engineering and other technological studies as viable career options" he said. “I am happy that I was able to advise Wolmerians such as David Goldson and Yannick Eatmon to consider engineering as a career. In fact, David is now one of my partners at Hue Lyew & Chin and Yannick is doing well at MIT where he is studying Chemical Engineering. I hope more Wolmerians join the field of engineering in the near future."