ExpertiseDesign, Rail, Project management
Walking over the roof of Liverpool Street Station on a current project to improve the station
Travelling on new Great Western trains after working on design of the electrifications system
Winning the ICE London Graduate of the Year Award 2019
A day in my life
Depending on the project and my role, a typical day might include working on my own to write or draw up ideas, meeting with others in my team or other engineering teams to discuss plans and designs, and meeting with the client to explain our work.
In some of my roles working on the management side of projects, I keep track of the budget and money we’ve spent so far, and get involved with understanding the contract, too.
I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also … an athlete. Well, sort of. I enjoy doing sport in my spare time – running, cycling and swimming. When I was a student, I competed in a triathlon. Now I’m working, I still make time to fit sport in around work. This mostly falls before or after work, or at weekends, but occasionally I run with colleagues over lunchtime, which is a great way to take a break and see the city (and the civil engineering in it!).
My career inspiration
I can remember watching a Megastructures programme when I was younger, about the Millau Viaduct in France. I must have been only 11 or 12 at the time, but the scale of the project and the engineering challenges that the programme showed really inspired me.
what’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?
People actually know a lot about civil engineering, it’s just that they don’t recognise that it is civil engineering. There are always stories in the national or local news about civil engineering projects – whether it’s Crossrail, Heathrow, High Speed 2, or one new building or public space.
When I started working in the industry, I found the people around me were all working on projects in places I know and even where I go often. I just didn’t realise that the projects were going on!
which civil engineering myth(s) you would like to bust?
Civil engineers deal with things that don’t move.” People often say this when they try to explain the difference between civil and mechanical engineering.
But, in reality, everything a civil engineer designs does move, and it’s really important that the civil engineer knows how their structure is moving. Bridges bounce a little bit and buildings sway. The engineering challenge is predicting the movements and making sure they’re small enough to be acceptable and safe. It might be on a different scale, but the movement in civil engineering is still very important!
which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?
It would’ve been great to have worked alongside Isambard Kingdom Brunel when he was designing the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and to have been around when it was built.
I spent three years in Bristol as a student and often went past the bridge. The scale of the gorge where it sits is impressive, and I often wondered just how they built the bridge where it is.
what about being a civil engineer inspires you?
Knowing that the projects I work on will eventually improve the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people makes my job rewarding and that’s why I keep coming in every day.
would you recommend a career in civil engineering?
It’s so varied! As well as fundamental maths and physics, it requires such a mix of skills and people with various strengths – finance, management, health and safety, communication, interpersonal skills, and creativity.
It’s also very practical, too, as civil engineers have to think about shapes, materials, methods and functionality, as well as numbers and calculations. And, as a civil engineer you’ll always be working with a mix of people with other expertise, such as architects.
And, we make a real difference to people’s lives, that you can see for yourself.
Along with my GCSEs, I also completed a BTEC First Diploma in Engineering. After that, I took Maths, Physics, Business and French A-Levels at sixth form.
I then studied for a master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol. While at university, I was involved in an exchange programme so spent one year at a university in France too (INSA de Lyon).
Once I finished university, I started at WSP and am on a three-year graduate programme which offers training and development alongside work.
Joe wrote in the ICE's Community Blog about his experiences as a graduate that led to him winning the ICICE London Graduate of the Year Award.