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Lauren Cunningham

Lauren Cunningham

Undergraduate Engineer, WSP

Expertise

Bridges, Digital, Project management

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Promoting civil engineering as a career on behalf of Design Engineer Construct at the House of Lords

Qualifying as an Engineering Technician at age 18

A day in my life

An average day in my life solely depends on the project I’m working on and the status of the project, but mostly I’m using pioneering software to design various parts of structures or health and safety aspects of multimillion-pound projects.

I also work with senior colleagues on a daily basis to come up with appropriate solutions for any design issues I come across.

Finding successful solutions and seeing the projects come to life is such a rewarding feeling.

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also...
An Assistant Project Manager (APM). I work with the project management team to liaise with our clients and other disciplines to work collaboratively to produce a fully federated scheme model and comprehensive online database of all works produced throughout the design stage.

My aim over the next year is to get involved with key financial aspects to become a well-rounded AMP.

My career inspiration

I was inspired to become a civil engineer by Alison Watson, MBE, CEO of Design, Engineer, Construct! (DEC!).

I wouldn’t even know about civil engineering, let alone have started a career in it, had it not been for her.

I met Alison in year 8 when I was 12 years old, when she brought integrated STEM learning into my high school, St. Ambrose Barlow. I didn’t take to it initially, as it was so different from everything I’d ever done before, but with her and my STEM teachers’ encouragement, I began to love it, so much so I opted for DEC at GCSE – and all the rest!

Lauren Cunningham receiving her highly commended award.
Lauren Cunningham receiving her highly commended award.

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

I did know that civil engineering affected everybody’s life and their quality of life, but I didn’t realise how significant the impact was and I’m so proud to be part of that.

I love that wherever you are in the world, there are opportunities to make a difference, and my long-term goal is to work abroad in less economically developed countries.

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

It’s not necessarily a myth, but that the industry is heavily dominated by men, with very few women in senior positions – this is the biggest area I want to see change!

As a woman in engineering I don’t feel at a disadvantage because you can make your own career.

I work in a team of just men, and I’m doing just fine. I think it would be lovely to see the dynamics of this sector change more, but as women, we are not at a disadvantage, there are just fewer of us at the moment.

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

I really wish I’d been involved in New York’s drainage network and the use of Central Park to drain the concrete city.

what about being a civil engineer inspires you?

That every day I’ll learn something new, and the world is your oyster, with endless opportunities to progress and opportunities to work abroad, what’s not to love?

would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

Every task you undertake as a civil engineer offers a sense of purpose; everything you do has a long-term, positive impact on society and makes a difference. As in every job, you’ll have more exciting days than others, but on the whole it’s a very exciting career.

Education

I applied for an apprenticeship with WSP at 16 and as part of that I completed my ICE competence qualification, which supplemented my Civil Engineering BTEC (Level 3). Because of the support and variety of experiences I got from work, I succeeded in completing both and getting professionally qualified as an Engineering Technician (with the letters EngTech MICE after my name) at 18.

I’m working towards a civil engineering degree part-time now at Liverpool John Moore’s University while I work.

I’m in my second year and it’s intense, but totally worth it; the most challenging part is managing working four days a week and studying on day release.

Other colleagues I work with have completed their degree apprenticeships, and it’s safe to say that their careers are flying!

Hobbies

I like to socialise with my friends and family, and go to the gym three to four times a week. I also regularly ride, look after horses, and attend monthly horse shows.