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Ella Northey

Ella Northey

project manager, Balfour Beatty

Expertise

Design, Project Management, Construction

Location

United Kingdom
My highlights

Awarded WICE Best Young Engineer in 2023

Won the Highways Awards' Apprentice of the Year Award in 2021

Gained EngTech MICE qualification

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

Civil engineering plays a key role in everyday life – it shapes our environments and the way in which future generations will interact with them. Your work will leave a lasting mark on the world.

An apprenticeship will present you with the opportunity to contribute to that in real time.

An apprenticeship isn’t the ‘easy way out’. It takes drive, dedication, and balance, but it will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever embark on within your career.

My apprenticeship has built my confidence, resilience, independence, and ability to play to my strengths.

I chose to do an apprenticeship because…

I chose to do an apprenticeship because I knew that ‘traditional’ learning wasn’t best suited to my style, and I wanted to gain experience on the job alongside my qualification.

Apprenticeships are a great way to build a network and support system (at work and at your place of study), and it provides exposure to the industry.

They also add value to your academic learning, as you're able to put theory into practice, develop skills and gain invaluable experience. The ability to ‘earn while you learn’ is just an added bonus.

We asked Ella…

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

The Thames Tideway Tunnel project played an influential role in my engineering journey.

I first heard about the project at an event, and later watched a documentary about it, and it struck a chord with me.

I was drawn to the variety of the role (it seemed that no two days were the same), the engineer’s abilities to problem solve, the logistics involved in delivering the project, and the overall scale of it.

I went on to do some work experience with the project in early 2018 before starting in the industry in September of that year.

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

A friend, a daughter, and a young woman paving their path in life.

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

The opportunity to contribute to shaping the physical world, sustainable development and solving real-world challenges in infrastructure.

Before, it was finishing my degree with a first-class result.

Ultimately, I ask a lot of ‘how’ questions, be that ‘how’ did they build a tunnel underwater or ‘how’ do they construct viaducts.

Being an engineer and going to work every day enables me to work towards answering some of my ‘how’ questions.

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

Before working in the industry, I didn’t appreciate the sheer size of civil engineering.

It really does underpin everything, from how we get water and power, to how we use our roads.

There’s so much that engineering opens you up to that happens behind the scenes, and that’s something that still interests me about civil engineering.

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

That it's just lots of numbers and equations.

Engineering requires creative problem solving, which isn’t just centred around maths.

Engineers find innovative solutions beyond traditional technical knowledge to tackle complex challenges in unique and sustainable ways.

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

The Channel Tunnel would've been quite interesting to work on.

I remember being a passenger on the Eurostar as a child and being amazed by the concept of travelling underwater.

There are so many interesting projects, too many to name, but I’m also excited for what's to come. I look forward to working on projects throughout my career that haven’t even been imagined yet.

What motivated you/is motivating you to become professionally qualified with the ICE?

Having dual nationality and growing up in a developing country, I've had the privilege of seeing different infrastructure and gaining a greater appreciation for the impact engineers have on communities.

I have and continue to incorporate this into my work and development.

I’ve grown as an engineer during my time in the industry and have achieved and continue to strive for professional and academic success, which is a product of my drive and passion for engineering.

My dedication is matched by eagerness to learn and continuously expand my understanding and experience. Becoming an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) with the ICE will support this goal.

What does IEng MICE status mean for your career?

I’m determined to answer some of engineering’s ‘how’ questions.

Becoming IEng MICE will enable me to continue working towards this goal and will hopefully open up the opportunity to expand my skills in other parts of the world.

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

Sometimes the best thing to do is to work backwards, review the criteria and attributes for the qualification you want, and use that to create a development plan.

Refer to this throughout your career and use it to aid your progress. Be intentional with your contributions throughout your career but also enjoy what you're working on.

It can sometimes seem overwhelming, so remember you can reach out to the ICE for support.

Any hobbies or personal causes?

Balancing work and study can sometimes be quite intense around exam times, so I would make a conscious effort to have hobbies that would take me away from my work environment and require me to be quite present.

I would do things that I found personally fulfilling, such as catching up with friends and family, exploring new places, painting, etc.

In terms of causes, I am a strong advocate for apprenticeships, STEM, and engineering in general. Therefore, I dedicate a lot of time to outreach and support to current and aspiring young engineers.

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel

The Channel Tunnel

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel