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Kyle McLean

Kyle McLean

civil engineer, dams and river engineering at Mott MacDonald


Design, Construction, Water


East of England
My highlights

ICE President's Future Leader 2022/23

Chair of the British Dam Society Young Professional group

Awarded as an Engineering Leaders Scholar by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018, which enabled me to make new connections, learn new skills and travel to North America

A day in my life

If I’m in the office, I’ll start my day with a team meeting to discuss plans, ideas and designs both within my team and across disciplines.

I then like to go for a walk at lunchtime with my colleagues to clear the mind and have a catch-up.

Afternoons often vary but can involve meeting with clients to explain our work.

This means I have to have a good understanding of the budget, programme and contract, too!

At the moment though, I am currently based on site as an ECC (engineering and construction contract) supervisor where we are raising an embankment and constructing multiple flood walls.

I often start my day by talking with the contractor site engineer and sub-agent to discuss programme and what work will be done that day.

I’ll then spend the rest of my day inspecting certain stages of construction and ensuring that the works are being carried out in accordance with the design drawings and other contractual documents.

I'm a civil engineer, and I'm also a keen mountain biker. I have an instructor qualification and like going to the Lakes and Alps to do some downhill trails when I have time!

I’m a bit of a thrill seeker and also enjoy skydiving, having done a few jumps in the past.

I’ve spent a lot of my spare time working with the British Dam Society as part of the Young Professional Committee to try and encourage more people into our industry,

Who inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I think back to one of my close friends at secondary school telling me about growing up all over the world, like in parts of South America and Asia, all due to his dad’s job.

I was fascinated and intrigued - what job would allow you to travel and see the world like this?

I later found out that he was a civil engineer working in hydropower, which was something I was very interested in after learning a lot about the topic in geography!

As a result, I did a bit more research into civil engineering and decided to do my engineering master's degree after completing my A levels.

We asked Kyle…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

You’ll get the opportunity to work on transformational projects which can really positively impact people’s lives.

For example, protecting homes from flooding, creating additional rail capacity in the form of new railways or opening up communities to new opportunities through roads and social infrastructure.

Also, if you’re like me and prefer not having two days the same, civil engineering allows you to appreciate construction from calculations all the way to something being built on site!

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego?

I remember making a spaceship when I was around seven or eight, something similar to an Imperial Star Destroyer (well, at least I thought!)

It took me days, but sadly it all ended abruptly when I dropped it on the kitchen floor.

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

No day is the same!

I love speaking to a great team of diverse people and going to new places, something that we as civil engineers are lucky enough to do all the time.

I also find it incredibly satisfying collaborating across teams, disciplines and companies to achieve the best solutions for our stakeholders and clients.

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

The complexities and challenges our industry faces mean that you’re continuously learning new skills and sharing knowledge every day.

It’s quite exciting to think how much we will have developed and advanced in only five, if not 10, years’ time.

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

Probably the Aswan High Dam or the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Both of which were monumental pieces of infrastructure which opened up so many opportunities for the communities around them.

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

We don’t just do bridges and buildings! In fact, we don’t just do engineering.

As a civil engineer you'll have the opportunity to do much more outside of design and construction, depending on what you’re passionate about.

This could be project management, stakeholder engagement, social outcomes, environmental consultancy… the list goes on!

It’s also important to never underestimate your ability to communicate and work in a team - these skills are just as important as your academic ones.

Any hobbies?

I love music, the outdoors, keeping fit and running - although this has slowed down a bit after doing a marathon last year!

I also volunteer for RedR as an office champion for the charity.

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal hurdles?

By working with people from so many different backgrounds and disciplines, civil engineering has allowed me to become a more confident and effective communicator.

Favourite projects

Construct a bridge over the Avon gorge to speed up crossing times

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Construct a bridge over the Avon gorge to speed up crossing times

Kyle's career path

  • I started my career in civil engineering after completing my A levels in maths, physics, chemistry and geography.
  • I then went on to complete an MEng degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
  • While at university I did two summer placements at Mott MacDonald in the dams and rivers engineering team, which I returned to after graduation.