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James Gibbons

James Gibbons

Civil Engineering Apprentice, Arup


Design, Construction, Environment, Highways


United Kingdom
My highlights

Working on the new Lansdown stand at Bristol City's Ashton Gate football stadium.

Delivering a climate change speech as part of the New Civil Engineer Apprentice Of The Year award.

Becoming a STEM ambassador and encouraging students to purse a civil engineering career.

How I became a civil engineer

Having studied Mechanical Engineering for 2 years at Weston College prior to starting at Arup, my HNC qualification gave me a basic understanding of civil engineering principles.

I am now expanding my knowledge and skills through my part time degree. As an apprentice at Arup I work four days a week and study at university on day release. I'm now in the third year of a Civil and Environmental Engineering Degree at University of West of England.

Civil engineers are responsible for changing the world we live in; designing solutions that are safer and more efficient as well as adapting our infrastructure to withstand the changing environment.

A day in my life

As an apprentice at Arup I work four days a week and study at university on day release. On a day-to-day basis I am responsible for the CAD output and management in the Bristol Infrastructure team.

I work with engineers and technicians to produce a variety of highways, drainage and utility proposals to our clients and am gradually progressing onto more complex engineering tasks.

I have frequent involvement with local authority adoption packages where I am exposed to highway and drainage design. I also have a lead role in managing external files and project set-up within my team.

We asked James…

why you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I have always had a clear passion for engineering and design, as my childhood aspiration was to become an architect. Throughout my level 3 studies, my eyes were opened to the wide range of opportunities that engineering had to offer. With the desire to combine my interest of technical design and construction, civil engineering was a clear career path for me.

what has been a highlight(s) of your apprenticeship?

My most enjoyable moment so far was delivering a 10-minute speech on how civil engineers should take a leadership role in tackling the climate crisis. This was part of the judging process for New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year award. This not only motivated me to carry out extensive research on the climate crisis but also gave me the opportunity to present something I’m passionate about to a board of senior judges from across the engineering industry.

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

I was not aware of the efforts being made by civil engineers to tackle the climate emergency. Due to the severity of the issue it is reassuring to see so many innovative designs that have been making a real difference across the country from sustainable drainage to offshore wind farms.

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

I would like to bust the myth that all apprenticeships are considered as the ‘easy’ route and prove that apprentices can be equally if not more successful than those taking traditional education routes.

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

My inspiration to become a civil engineer grew when I was lucky enough to carry out work experience at Bristol City`s Ashton Gate stadium during the construction of the new Lansdown stand. I was able to shadow the site engineer and get hands on setting out the foundations which is when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in civil engineering.

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

I would have liked the opportunity to work on the HS2 route studies. HS2 is a very high-profile project which Arup have been heavily involved in studying route alignment options and solutions for the 400kph high speed line. I see HS2 as an essential project for the long term sustainable benefit of the UK and to be a part of its design and construction would give me a great sense of personal satisfaction.

what about being a civil engineer inspires you?

What gets me out of bed in the morning is the amount of opportunities available to develop my career and succeed in my role. There are always ways to improve what you have done before to make design processes quicker and more efficient.

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

Civil engineering is an industry that can be challenging, exciting and rewarding with such a wide variety of work ranging from structures, foundations and infrastructure to energy, research and environmental impact. Civil engineers are also responsible for changing the world we live in; designing solutions that are safer and more efficient as well as adapting our infrastructure to withstand the changing environment.