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Dr Ellie Cosgrave

Dr Ellie Cosgrave

Lecturer in urban innovation and policy, UCL

Expertise

Environment, Digital

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Becoming an education coordinator with Engineers Without Borders UK, which I continue to support

As an academic at UCL, I get to teach the next generation of civil engineers

Continuing to explore and push the boundaries of engineering through research

How I became a civil engineer

I studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol with summer placements in engineering firms.

I then studied for an engineering doctorate in Smart Cities with Arup, before completing a post-doctorate at University College London (UCL) on 'Transforming the Engineering of Cities.'

I now lecture in urban innovation and policy at UCL, which means I get to teach the next generation of engineers!

I spend some of my time researching questions like ‘how can engineering be more inclusive?’ or ‘how does the built environment affect people’s mental and physical health?’ 

Engineering really does offer you the opportunity to work with all sorts of different people, in all sorts of projects all over the world. I don’t think I could've imagined this before I gave it a go.

A day in my life

Any given day can be so different, it’s the thing I love about my job!

One day I might be exploring the city with my students, taking them on site visits, or looking for mischievous ways we can disrupt the built environment.

For example, lighting a candle and incense stick in a phone box and writing an invitation on the floor in chalk for a passer-by to make contact with someone they love.

Another day, I might be speaking at a conference in Cairo, San Francisco, Melbourne, Singapore, or anywhere.

I really value the opportunity to discuss cutting-edge issues with colleagues from all around the world.

On other days, I sit alone at my desk, grappling with how to capture my thoughts, ideas and research in writing so that it can be useful to wider audiences.

Dr Ellie Cosgrave is an ICE Superhero because...she's a civil engineer passionate about making our cities better for people.

She earned her superhero status and nickname Urban Angel for her work researching and designing how cities can be friendlier, help us to be healthier and make sure that everyone has the same opportunities to travel and do things.
Dr Ellie Cosgrave is an ICE Superhero because...she's a civil engineer passionate about making our cities better for people. She earned her superhero status and nickname Urban Angel for her work researching and designing how cities can be friendlier, help us to be healthier and make sure that everyone has the same opportunities to travel and do things.

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

That teamwork makes the dream work!

Engineering really does offer you the opportunity to work with all sorts of different people, in all sorts of projects all over the world.

I don’t think I could've imagined this before I gave it a go.

Which civil engineering myth(s) would you like to bust?

That it’s only about maths and technical stuff.

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

As a teenager, I didn’t really know what engineering was. I think that’s pretty normal.

I knew I liked maths and science (but I also loved dance and humanities).

One day, my maths teacher printed an application form for a Headstart course and put it on my desk before class.

She thought engineering could be for me.

I didn’t feel particularly confident that I was good enough, but the more I learnt about it, the more excited I got.

There were also two girls in the year above me who went to study engineering, so I gained more confidence that engineering really could be for someone like me.

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

Any bridge, ever!

The closest I got to that was scanning some road bridges in North London to check the steel reinforcement was still strong enough and hadn’t deteriorated too much.

I’d have liked to have worked on a more awe-inspiring bridge!

What about being a civil engineer inspires you?

I like working in teams with colleagues who inspire me and who push my thinking forward. Coffee also helps.

Would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

Engineering expands your horizons and possibilities.

There are so many opportunities to explore and you can really tailor a career around your own passions and interests.

It’s not just one thing, don’t let anyone tell you differently.