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Louise Hetherington

Louise Hetherington

Graduate Structural Engineer, Atkins

Expertise

Structural, Construction, Design

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Undertook structural engineering survey of Hampton Court Palace

Designed elements for the Tower of London

Seeing my designs come to life on site, often within a short timescale.

How I became a civil engineer

I completed A-levels in Maths, Physics, Music and Geography before going on to study an integrated Masters Degree (MEng) at Plymouth University which took 5 years including a placement year.

Since starting my degree I’ve had a varied experience through summer placements, an industrial placement year and my graduate role. Key highlights from the placement year include undertaking structural engineering surveys of Hampton Court Palace, designing elements for the Tower of London and solving problems in other domestic properties which have been modified over time.

There’s so much you can do with a civil engineering degree and so many different routes to gain specialist knowledge. It’s a broad discipline which you can cater to your own interests.

A day in my life

Typically my day involves calculations for structural members and writing reports on my designs. I am fortunate to be involved in a number of regeneration asset management style projects, which means I often get to visit existing buildings to undertake structural surveys and condition assessments.

I then back-analyse the structural sizes based upon my measurements and observations with regard to loading. Following this I write a report to outline my work and provide recommendations to the client. I am also heavily involved in Atkins Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan so regularly attend meetings to discuss our upcoming events. Finally, as a STEM co-ordinator I also have the opportunity to attend schools regularly to showcase Civil Engineering to students.

Louise Hetherington: Atkins
Louise Hetherington: Atkins

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

Until I started my degree, I don’t think I realised how many different industries and opportunities a civil engineering role could lead to. Anything from flood management, to super structures, waterways, rail and tunnelling; there’s so much you can do with a civil engineering degree and so many different routes to gain specialist knowledge. It’s a broad discipline which you can cater to your own interests.

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

That engineering is dirty, unglamorous and site based! I sit in an office most of my time, rarely go out in bad weather and spend a very limited amount of time covered in mud or other dirt.

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

The Eiffel Tower – it’s not often we get to design structures with everything exposed (quite often its hidden away beneath architecture and finishes). It would have been great to help design and building something so iconic which showcases structural engineering in its true form.

would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

Seeing designs come to life or knowing a heritage structure is safe for its occupants.