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How ICE QUEST is more than just a scholarship

12 September 2022

Rhys Phillips, a former ICE QUEST scholar, wants to encourage more students to apply for the scheme.

How ICE QUEST is more than just a scholarship
Rhys Phillips gained a wide range of site experience working for BAM Nuttall as part of the ICE's QUEST scholarship scheme. Image credit: Rhys Phillips

I was awarded the ICE QUEST scholarship in 2017 and recently graduated from the University of Bath with a first-class MEng (Hons) civil engineering degree.

Throughout my degree I was sponsored through the ICE QUEST scheme by BAM Nuttall.

I completed two summer placements and a year in industry working across roles in site engineering, design engineering, innovation, and infrastructure advisory.

The ICE QUEST scheme provided a springboard for my development as a civil engineer, and in this blog I’d like to share my experience of the scholarship.

What is the ICE QUEST scholarship?

The ICE QUEST scheme is a scholarship awarded to aspiring civil engineers for the duration of their undergraduate studies.

The scholarship typically involves sponsorship from the ICE and a civil engineering company.

The sponsor company will offer guaranteed summer placements (two to three) and a year in industry (optional) during your degree, leading to a job offer on graduation.

Scholarship payments of £1,500 per university year are made, and all work experience is fully paid, often with significant levels of responsibility.

The QUEST scholarship is awarded to 70 to 85 students every year.

Students apply in the year before they start their first undergraduate degree.

Interviews are conducted in September, just a few weeks before university starts, and the scholarships are awarded a few weeks later in October.

This means that the QUEST scholarship is awarded for the entirety of your undergraduate degree.

What are the advantages of the QUEST scholarship?

The main advantage of the ICE QUEST scholarship is the early exposure to the civil engineering industry through your connection to your sponsor company and experience during industry placements.

Graduating from university with almost two years’ full-time work experience is a huge advantage to you, allowing you to experience a range of roles in the industry and access mentoring from an early age.

The opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge from the classroom in the real world during your degree offers you the chance to better understand the content and get a head start on your professional development.

For instance, during my degree I worked in roles across site engineering, design engineering, innovation, and infrastructure advisory for BAM Nuttall.

But I also managed to complement these experiences by working as a researcher at the University of Bath, exploring entrepreneurship as the director of The Structural Exam, and volunteering as a tutor and mentor for aspiring engineers.

Taking a different path

I am thoroughly grateful to BAM Nuttall for the experiences I had during my degree, and these experiences allowed me to find my passion in the industry.

In the end I decided to take a different path.

I chose to move into construction tech for my post-graduate career, but I have parted with BAM on good terms and maintain an extensive network of contacts there.

The QUEST scheme is designed to accelerate the careers of ambitious young civil engineers, and to fast-track you to wherever your career takes you.

Grades are important – but demonstrate your passion, too

This is an important idea to address.

While grades are important, the ICE QUEST committee which awards the scholarships are also interested in the passion you demonstrate, your understanding of the problems facing the industry, and your character and leadership potential.

The minimum A-level grades to apply for the QUEST scheme are ABB and if you meet or exceed these, you really need to apply.

The QUEST scholarship can make a huge difference to your early career.

A transformational experience

My experience of the ICE QUEST scholarship was transformational in my early civil engineering career.

The opportunities that the QUEST scholarship and BAM Nuttall afforded me while at university allowed me to explore my passions in engineering and find a role that would provide a fulfilling graduate career.

I cannot recommend the QUEST scholarship enough to any aspiring engineers looking at civil engineering.

The civil engineers of the future will be people solving the largest challenges of our time and the QUEST scholarship can help you become one of these engineers.

Apply to be a scholar or a sponsor of ICE QUEST

If you're a student wanting to find out how to apply for an ICE QUEST scholarship, or an employer looking for your next bright star, get in touch.

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  • Rhys Phillips, past ICE QUEST scholar