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Ella Barker

Ella Barker

Assistant project management apprentice, National Grid


Construction, Project Management, Environmental Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Winning the Kirklees Council’s Apprentice of the Year Award 2020

Winning the ICE Quest Technician Scholarship

Winning the New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year Award 2023

A day in my life

I start my day at about 8am by checking my emails and catching up with my manager.

At 9am I will then either attend meetings or head out to site.

A site visit could be heading to a port to check-up on the survey vessels (ships that survey the seabed before cables are laid) or taking part in a drone survey which scans for unexploded bombs (UXOs), which may have been from the world wars.

Site visits are really useful as you can see the work in action and get a greater understanding of its purpose.

I finish my day at around 4pm after a final check of my emails, and a quick chat with my manager.

As I’m on an apprenticeship, I spend one day a week doing work towards my qualification.

It’s great to do the qualification work in the working week, as it keeps weekends free. 

I would recommend civil engineering to others as two days are never the same.

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

My uncle, who is a civil engineer at Mott MacDonald. He helped me get two weeks of work experience when I was in year 11.

Until I completed this work experience, I had never thought about a career in civil engineering.

Meeting so many industry professionals, all working in different areas of civil engineering, got me interested about the endless possibilities a career in civil engineering can offer.

We asked Ella…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

I would recommend civil engineering to others as two days are never the same.

It's a job that involves so many different aspects whether you work with water, structures, highways, and so on.

I also would recommend civil engineering as I believe that it is a job that will continue to challenge you throughout your career.

What would you say to anyone considering a civil engineering apprenticeship?

Go for it – if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything!

What motivated you / is motivating you to become a professionally qualified Engineering Technician / Incorporated Engineer with ICE?

I was motivated to complete my EngTech qualification as it’s recognised industry-wide by employers. It shows that I can complete tasks towards the end goal.

I was also motivated to complete it to prove to myself that I could do it. 

What advice would you give someone considering becoming EngTech MICE / IEng MICE?

Just do it.

Although at first it seems like a lot of hard work, if you break it down into small manageable chunks, and seek advice from people within the industry, it's not as hard as it seems. 

I chose to do an apprenticeship because …

I chose to do an apprenticeship because I'd rather be learning on the job than studying from a textbook.

By doing an apprenticeship, I benefit from practical experience and a greater skill set than those who start through the academic route, for example.

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

Although I didn’t play with Lego much when I was younger, I do remember making my own houses and bridges out of Lego to find out at what point a bridge would collapse, for example.

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

A ballet dancer!

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

Knowing that my work is going to benefit society and help the UK achieve its net zero goal. 

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

One thing I love about civil engineering is that you do something different everyday.

I’ve learned that there’s more variety to the job than I expected, which is great as tasks never get repetitive.

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

One project I wish I had worked on is the Hoover Dam, in the United States. After visiting the Hoover Dam in 2015, I was amazed that such a large structure was built in as little as five years.

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

One civil engineering myth I’d like to bust is that you have to be really good at maths and science.

Civil engineering is such a broad sector, and there are many levels to enter at. 

What are your hobbies?

  • Performing arts
  • Music (I play violin, keyboard, and guitar along with writing my own music)
  • Rock climbing

The Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Ella's career path

In the final year of my GCSEs, I applied for the Level 3 apprenticeship in civil engineering at Kirklees Council.

Then, in 2023, I became an assistant project management apprentice at National Grid.

Major projects

  • Flood Risk Community Engagement across the 23 wards within Kirklees.
  • Property Flood Resilience Grant Scheme