Gaining my EngTech professional qualification at the end of my apprenticeship.
Being shortlisted for apprentice of the year with the New Civil Engineer.
Getting my apprenticeship with Building Design Partnership (BDP).
How I became a civil engineer
My apprenticeship was in civil engineering focusing primarily on infrastructure engineering, designing drainage systems and highways as well as other civil engineering related tasks for Architect lead projects.
I applied and was accepted on an apprenticeship program with Building Design Partnership (BDP). BDP are a global, multidisciplinary design studio compromising of architects, engineers, town planners and everything in between.
Working in house with many different types of engineering and architectural disciplines towards a like-minded goal has given me a wealth of knowledge, not only in my own area of specialisation but others as well.
My experience of my apprenticeship was an incredibly positive one. I was initially slightly sceptical when applying for an apprenticeship at my age however it’s a decision I am completely glad I took.
A day in my life
Without wanting to sound like a cliché, no two days are ever the same within my role. At any one time I will be working on between one and five different projects which I need to time manage myself.
I primarily work within infrastructure civil engineering, designing drainage systems, highways and external works. This means within a single working day I will find myself completing a number of varied design tasks - 3D modelling, liasing with Architects, Town planners, Building services Engineers - or any number of other disciplines which means I'm seldom left with little to do.
We asked Ethan…
what has been a highlight(s) of your apprenticeship?
Gaining my EngTech professional qualification at the end of my apprenticeship which now means I can use letters after my name in a professional capacity which allows you to stand out amongst other technicians within the industry. Also being shortlisted for apprentice of the year with the New Civil Engineer was a tremendously proud achievement considering the number of applicants.
what’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?
creativity and know-how as long as it falls within the realms of best practice of course! Seven engineers may solve the same problem seven different ways and as long as what you are doing is technically correct and safe, and you're able to argue why you think it's the best solution, then you're allowed to do so.
which civil engineering myth(s) you would like to bust?
That civil engineering is the ‘boring’ discipline. When you do the slightest amount of research you’ll realise just how varied and completely diverse civil engineering is and that it can and will have you working in any and all parts of the global business. For example I’ve worked on projects involving one of the country'e leading zoos and pharmaceutical companies, all within a days work!
which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?
I initially became fascinated with ancient civil engineering; in particular how the Romans provided water to the cities in which they lived by creating aquaducts and the engineering involved.
Engineers have always faced problems with managing and manipulating water, which due to its properties can prove to be quite troublesome.
Water as a life-giving resource can also harbour life-threatening nasties. That was the case in London in the 1800’s where the sewage flowed freely through the streets often causing infection and disease.
The Romans devised a below ground sewer system to transport the foul water created by humans away from the cities, reducing the contact with the population, thus reducing fatalities associated with disease. The very same sewer system still being used 200 years later!
which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?
I wish I was able to work on the current ‘Super Sewer’ which is being built below London. This is a 25km tunnel under London’s river that will prevent the tens of millions of tonnes of pollution that currently pollute the River Thames every year. This project really interests me because it's similar to what I do on a day-to-day basis but supersized!
what about being a civil engineer apprentice inspires you?
The fact that I'm able to manage my own workload as I see fit in order to achieve project deadlines. Even though I'm in the infancy of my career I can structure my own workday within reason to accommodate my workload with minimal input from my superiors.
I can find myself working on a vast array of engineering problems throughout the day which keeps my interest and prevents any mid-afternoon lulls in motivation you may find in other careers. I love the fact that when I get out of bed in the morning and head into work, what I do throughout the day will genuinely have a big impact on people's lives once the project I'm working on is in operation.
what would you say to anyone considering a civil engineering apprenticeship?
I would say that there are a huge number of reasons why you should grab a civil engineering apprenticeship with both hands.
As civil engineers we have a tremendous responsibility to spearhead real change with regards to climate change and CO2 emissions so right now it's such a great time to get on board and have the chance to enact real change for future generations.