School Ambassador focus: Sakthy Selvakumaran

Hear from ICE member Sakthy on her work in schools to promote civil engineering careers and how you could get involved in the Construkt Scheme.

Sakthy Selvakumaran, school ambassador
Sakthy Selvakumaran, school ambassador

Sakthy Selvakumaran is an ICE Schools ambassador. She told us about her career to date and how it's inspired her to help others get into a career in civil engineering.

"I have always been passionate about using engineering skills to make a difference. Being a civil engineer has given me lots of opportunities to do this – from working on earthquake-resistant housing and landslide mitigation structures in Peru, to work in Madrid on a broad range of construction including sustainability consultancy and cost estimation. In the UK, I've worked on bridge and civil infrastructure design as a Design Engineer for Ramboll, and later as an Innovation Engineer for Laing O'Rourke working on innovative products and solutions in construction.

A particular career highlight has been the design of the ExCeL Footbridge as part of Crossrail's Custom House Station, and then joining the site team to support the installation of the bridge and station – an opportunity to take a design from sketches and calculations through to delivery in real life!

I am now a Chartered Civil Engineer, undertaking PhD research at the University of Cambridge for which I'm using satellite radar imagery to monitor civil infrastructure. There are satellites that pass over the earth and take radar image 'photos', and through looking at a series of these images, we can monitor tiny movements of certain objects on the ground. Through collaborating with civil engineers, asset owners and the space sector I am aiming to understand the relevance, utilisation, and limitations of such technology to civil engineering applications, such as bridge or embankment monitoring following significant events such as flooding.

As a STEM Ambassador, I regularly get involved in school and career events, giving talks to young people and offering advice to school students considering getting into the civil engineering industry. Together with Serious About Youth founder Paul Matthews, and with support from ICE, we founded the Construkt Scheme which brings together young people to complete a real-life project where they manage a budget, people and resources to build a mini-structure. We then organise work experience for the participants, and support their progress into jobs and apprenticeships. We particularly recruit young people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

I find working with young people extremely rewarding. As an industry there is so much we can do to support young people in our local communities, and of course to benefit ourselves through recruiting the next generation of bright young engineers to work with!

If you, or your company would like to get involved in the Construkt Scheme, running courses, providing work experience or in any other way, then do get in touch through the website!"