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Ella Barker

Ella Barker

civil engineering technician apprentice


Structural, Water


United Kingdom
Career highlights

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

Shortening Kirklees Council's community engagement scheme from five to less than three years

Winning the ICE Quest Technician Scholarship

A day in my life

My working day changes all the time depending on what schemes we are working on.

Currently I start work between 7 and 8am. The first thing I do is check my emails and respond to any I can.

At about 8:30 I have a quick catch-up with my line manager, discussing what we will be working on that day (we often work on the same schemes and help each other with data collection, for example).

Then for the bulk of the day I get on with any work I need to. I tend to split my day up to work on one scheme in the morning, and another in the afternoon.

At about 3pm I will have another quick chat with my line manager letting him know my progress – from this we may decide to set up meetings in the following days if a scheme needs more work for instance.

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.

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’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 …

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also a dancer.

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

Being a civil engineer gets me out of bed each morning because I know my day is going to be different to yesterday, and that the work I do will help residents and society go about their daily life.

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 that I didn’t know until I started working was that depending on what projects you work on, you may be able to see results within a matter of weeks.

For example, with small schemes that are completed relatively quickly, you can soon see the results of what you have worked on, along with how this helps residents.

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 would like to bust is that it is all about doing physical work onsite, wearing high vis and hard hats. Although this aspect is very important, a lot of work is put into a project while working in an office.

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. I am currently in my second year of a three-year apprenticeship.

Going forward, I have several options that include getting a permanent job, going to university to study, or completing another higher-level apprenticeship (level 4/5 or 6).

Major projects

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