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Engineering projects that inspired me

03 August 2020

President's Future Leader Louise Hetherington talks us through some of her most inspiring local civil engineering projects.

Engineering projects that inspired me

"Civil engineering is all around us. Many things we take for granted exist because of civil engineers, from roads and railways, to clean water, sanitation and the homes we live in. Civil engineers influence and shape almost every aspect of the life we live, and it’s easy to spot example of civil engineering right on your doorstep.

"The photos below are just some of the civil engineering elements I can see in my local environment, all within a mile walk of my home. "


"Bridges are a big part of civil engineering. They enable connectivity between places, linking communities and allowing for safe access, whether that’s over a river, road or valley. This bridge is a cable stayed (suspension) structure, supported by the cables above the deck.

"It provides a footpath from the housing on one side of the road, to the rural area on the other, allowing people to safely access countryside without crossing a busy dual carriageway beneath."

Rock Gabion Retaining Wall

"Rock gabions are often used not only as retaining walls but also as coastal defences. In this instance, the steel wire cages hold rocks, which in turn resist the forces of the slope behind. They are used to widen the pavement and stop the slope short of where it would naturally end.

"The gabions are able to resist the forces of the earth above to prevent it sliding onto the footpath. In coastal defences, gabions help to dissipate wave energy as the water loses power when it goes between all the rocks within the gabion."

Discussing engineering with Louise


"Whether it’s the house you live in, your school, the shops or the hospital, buildings are in every aspect of our lives and civil engineers help to create them. As a structural engineer, I help to design the steel, concrete, timber and masonry elements to ensure it is safe for the people inside.

"I work alongside the architects to create hubs for people to congregate – in this case, a station building."


"The railway in this picture shows the overhead electrification which was implemented as part of the Great Western Electrification Project. Having worked on this as an undergraduate engineer, I helped design increased parapet heights, retaining walls, under track culverts and the foundations for the overhead gantries you can see in this picture."

President's Future Leaders

The scheme is a fantastic opportunity for up and coming engineers and technicians to gain an insight into the top of the profession and to boost their careers. The scheme is open to all ICE Technician members and Graduate members working towards professional qualification. Applications for the next President's Future Leaders are open now.