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Lewis Acott

Lewis Acott

placement site civil engineer, Galliford Try

Expertise

Construction, Project Management, Water

Location

United Kingdom
My highlights

Being awarded the ICE QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship with Galliford Try

Developing my technical engineering skills at university

Watching the projects I’m on progress and come to life

A day in my life

I usually get to site about 7.30am so that there’s time to have a cup of coffee, write dynamic risk assessments and brief operatives about the day’s engineering activities and risks before works start at 8am.

The first activities out onsite for the engineering team are typically related to setting out. This can involve using equipment like the total station (survey equipment) or GPS to mark out where we want a certain construction activity to take place.

The engineering team may also be surveying what has already been built to produce drawings known as ‘as-builts’, which are then given to the client during handover and commissioning.

In the site office I will typically be working on:

  • producing/checking drawings;
  • writing and reviewing risk assessment method statement (RAMS); and
  • ordering material deliveries, which can be anything from a 10m stretch of pipe to hundreds of cubic metres of concrete.

As the day draws to a close, I spend about 20-30 minutes writing up my diary with all that has happened onsite that day for future records.

There's a great sense of solidarity and purpose within the industry towards fighting climate change.

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

I was very lucky to have a former civil engineer teach me at secondary school.

He took us on a school trip to see the Queensferry Crossing being built.

A couple of the engineers from the project gave us a bridge building challenge and even though mine was by far the worst, I was hooked!

My teacher helped guide me through applying for civil engineering at university and encouraged me to apply for the QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship.

I’m very grateful for all he did to help and inspire me.

We asked Lewis…

A day in the life of a civil engineering student

My schedule at university is generally more flexible than at work as I have more control over my time.

Depending on the day of the week, I have between 2-8 hours of lectures on campus. These lectures are supported by studio time and laboratories.

Typically, I would have up to 25 contact hours a week. The university would expect me to do at least that much again in personal study.

This sounds like lots of work, but with good time management it generally isn’t too overwhelming.

So far, I have found my coursework to be varied and interesting which makes it easier and more enjoyable to study.

For example, I could be designing a car park façade and then switch over to earthquake formation and classification, and then to some multivariable differential equations.

University is so much more than just studying, and I have loved the other opportunities out there.

Bath is a very sporty university and I have embraced this by joining the athletics club, it has been a great way to find similar people to me while also offering a great escape from my studies.

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

It's surely one of the most varied industries to work in.

You can truly find a specialism that you love and are passionate about, from buildings to water to nuclear to railways and everything in between.

You also can uniquely help fight the battle against climate change by designing the buildings and infrastructure of the future!

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

When I was younger, I would take over whole rooms of our flat to create the longest possible railways.

I loved creating little hidden details that I could show my parents. I would spend days on these creations.

Truthfully, I only ever stopped because my parents would no longer be able to get from their bedroom to the kitchen for sake of stepping on something!

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…

A student athlete!

I love the feeling of escape I get when I’m pushing myself hard on the running track and competing for my university.

Exercise has such a positive impact on my mental health and if I’m ever stuck on a project or nasty calculation, I know that if I go for a run to clear my head the answer always comes so much easier after.

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

There’s always a new challenge to be solved when I get to site or the office.

One day I could be working out what pipework we need to order and how we’re going to construct that section.

Then, the next day I might be in the field leading a ground investigation to determine where the water table is, so we can dig our excavation safely.

Then, the day after that I may be working on environmental mitigation measures to protect trees or protected species such as bats.

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

There’s a great sense of solidarity and purpose within the industry towards fighting climate change.

It can be easy to get climate anxiety when watching or listening to the news about our planet.

But I find it very comforting to see the real-life action being taken by civil engineering and construction companies to mitigate their carbon impact.

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

I would’ve loved to work on the Queensferry Crossing, it’s such an iconic structure and the biggest civil engineering project in Scotland in a generation.

I drive over it to and from work each day and it never fails to put a smile on my face.

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

That all we do is concrete! There’s so much more to civil engineering than that.

Concrete has its place but with its high environmental impact, we should be always looking for alternatives to reduce the embodied carbon of our projects.

What motivated you, or is motivating you, to become professionally qualified? 

The motivation for me to become professionally qualified is the recognition of your commitment to the industry reflected in chartership.

To become a chartered civil engineer, you need to have developed those essential skills and put them into practice.

Thinking of ways to develop my skills for chartership encourages me to think outside the box at work to find the best solutions to problems we are facing.

What does being professionally qualified with the ICE mean for your career?  

I believe that achieving chartership is a great way of showing prospective employers your commitment to civil engineering and that you have the aptitude to take on more senior roles.

Lewis' career path

  • Studied five Sottish Highers & three Scottish Advanced Highers across a range of subjects from maths to English and engineering to geography.
  • Engaged in super-curricular activities related to civil engineering such as introductory courses from Cambridge University on fluid mechanics and other fundamental engineering topics.
  • Applied to and was successful in gaining the ICE QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship being sponsored by Galliford Try.
  • Accepted into the University of Bath to study a MEng in Civil & Architectural Engineering (with a professional placement year).
  • Carried out an eight-week summer placement with Galliford Try after my first year of university, learning the basic concepts of site engineering.
  • Currently on a 12-month placement with Galliford Try, having completed two years of my university course to date, further developing my technical site engineering skills alongside site management skills.

Major projects

  • Perth Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) Growth
  • Glenfarg Water Treatment Works (WTW) Growth
  • Winchburgh WwTW Growth