Louise Hetherington

Louise Hetherington

Structural Engineer

Country United Kingdom

Specialisms Design, construction, structural

Career highlights

How I became a civil engineer

I completed A-levels in Maths, Physics, Music and Geography before going on to study an integrated Masters Degree (MEng) at Plymouth University which took 5 years including a placement year.

Since starting my degree I’ve had a varied experience through summer placements, an industrial placement year and my graduate role. Key highlights from the placement year include undertaking structural engineering surveys of Hampton Court Palace, designing elements for the Tower of London and solving problems in other domestic properties which have been modified over time.

A typical day in your life

Typically my day involves calculations for structural members and writing reports on my designs. I am fortunate to be involved in a number of regeneration asset management style projects, which means I often get to visit existing buildings to undertake structural surveys and condition assessments.

I then back-analyse the structural sizes based upon my measurements and observations with regard to loading. Following this I write a report to outline my work and provide recommendations to the client. I am also heavily involved in Atkins Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan so regularly attend meetings to discuss our upcoming events. Finally, as a STEM co-ordinator I also have the opportunity to attend schools regularly to showcase Civil Engineering to students.

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There’s so much you can do with a civil engineering degree and so many different routes to gain specialist knowledge. It’s a broad discipline which you can cater to your own interests.

Louise Hetherington

Structural Engineer

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also...

A dance instructor, mental health first aider and diversity and inclusion advocate!

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

Seeing designs come to life or knowing a heritage structure is safe for its occupants.

What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

Until I started my degree, I don’t think I realised how many different industries and opportunities a civil engineering role could lead to. Anything from flood management, to super structures, waterways, rail and tunnelling; there’s so much you can do with a civil engineering degree and so many different routes to gain specialist knowledge. It’s a broad discipline which you can cater to your own interests.

My favourite projects

Hinckley Point C – Sliding assessment of technical galleries

Adaptations to Euston Station – Platform 2/3 Ramp Extension

IQE P&T Building – Newport – Structural Strengthening and modification

Which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

The Eiffel Tower – it’s not often we get to design structures with everything exposed (quite often its hidden away beneath architecture and finishes). It would have been great to help design and building something so iconic which showcases structural engineering in its true form.

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust?

That engineering is dirty, unglamorous and site based! I sit in an office most of my time, rarely go out in bad weather and spend a very limited amount of time covered in mud or other dirt.

Anything else? i.e. personal causes, hobbies?

Alongside my day job I co-chair our disability network, exploring how we can make the industry and Atkins more inclusive for people with disabilities. I’m also a Mental Health First Aider, promoting mental well-being in the workplace. Finally, I am a dance instructor, running my own business and teaching two classes per week.

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

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