Been a blast! So long and thanks for all the fish.
Worked for 10 years in a bank, went back to university while part timing at a Fish and Chip Shop.
Graduate Infrastructure Consultant – Highways Maintenance and Design
WSP UK ltd
I am a Graduate Engineer working on the design and maintenance of Highways
Following career direction confusion early in life I ended up serving almost 10 years in customer service at Standard Life Bank.
Found enthusiasm for new career in Civil Engineering and “went back to school” obtaining a 2:1 BEng (hons) in Civil Engineering.
I now work for Engineering Consultant, WSP UK ltd, in the Infrastructure department. I’m currently enjoying projects in Highways dealing predominantly with pavement design and maintenance.
My day to day work ranges from working on data analysis for Highway asset management (sound exciting right?! it is!) and design of new roads and upgrades. My role in design usually involves designing and specifying one element such as Road Pavement or Safety Barriers. I work on projects all over the world (currently Northern Ireland, London and Qatar) from the comfort of my office in Edinburgh.
I very much enjoy trying to use huge piles of data to find good value solutions to clients problems. I am aware this makes me a massive nerd, but making sense out of a chaotic pile of information and putting it to good use gives me great satisfaction.
My Typical Day
I spend my day in an office trying to make sense of lots of information and connect it to something real.
I am office based. I rarely get the chance to spend time on actual constructions sites. This is mainly because my work is done by the time construction starts. I do take every opportunity I can get to see construction on site as it’s important to connect theory to reality.
I have a wife and two young children; I have breakfast with my family and commute in to my office by train.
At work I am usually working on the same thing for several days/weeks. As a consultant I usually have to carefully manage what I do and how long it takes so I’ll plan my work out over days and weeks. This time management is important as clients are usually paying for my services by the hour and I don’t want to waste that money.
I try and do as much of my work as possible on the computer in an effort to save paper. I communicate by E:Mail/phone/Internet messaging and use programmes like Word and Excel a lot. The majority of my work is digital so it can easily be passed around the people I am working with, checked and changed. The whole construction industry is working towards better and more complicated digital models of construction projects in order to make those easier and safer to build, maintain and demolish.
I will usually have a clear goal for my work (in construction we call this a “Scope of works”). I will work within this scope to give the client whatever it is they need. This could be:
An opinion on why a particular road is failing (falling apart)
A design for a new part of a road (like a new safety barrier for example) that is correct to the current rules
Advise on what to do in a particular situation (like: “Do a big pavement repair now to save money on small repairs later”)
I travel from time to time to meet with clients or colleagues and sometimes to visit sites. This can be exciting as I get to see new places and meet new people who are passionate about the same things as me (building stuff!).
What I'd do with the money
I plan to organise a design and construction competition for local students.
Whilst studying Civil Engineering I most enjoyed design projects. These involved following a simple brief to come up with a solution to a problem.
I intend to organise and facilitate a design competition that will give participants the opportunity to:
Learn about the simple principles of engineering
Apply these rules to design a simple small scale bridge structure that will solve a given problem
Communicate with a technician effectively so as to get their structure drawn up
Construct their bridges using a limited selection of materials
Test their bridges to destruction
The competition will be targeted at school students from the local area.
The money will be spent on facilitating the event and building materials. The scope of the final competition will depend on what level of involvement I can get from local schools and students.
I hope that participants will gain an appreciation for how simple engineering principles are used to create the built environment around them.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Extroverted, friendly, enthusiastic
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I have many these days thanks to Spotify but The Smashing Pumpkins are the best.
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Rollercoasters. Never has so much science and engineering gone into something just to make me go “Woo!”
What did you want to be after you left school?
I did not have the slightest idea at the time, it took me 10 years to realise I wanted to be an Engineer.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, mostly for being cheeky or not paying attention. (I get distracted easily)
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Every time someone asks me for my opinion and then does what I suggest is awesome.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Ideally a Science Fiction writer (although I am a bad writer).
Tell us a joke.
Driving along the motorway I overtook an AA van, the driver was in floods of tears sobbing over the steering wheel. I thought to myself; “He must be on his way to a break down”.
Me out and about surveying roads.
In this photo I am visiting slip exits and entrances to motorways (Slip roads) and checking to make sure the road surface is not damaged. If there is too much wear and tear I will be recommending works to my client who is in charge of making sure those roads are safe.
This is what road pavement looks like in cross section. Lots of layers of asphalt. Each one compacted as much as possible before the next is lain on top.