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Lucy Davison

Lucy Davison

assistant engineer – track, SYSTRA


Design, Project Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

ICE President’s Future Leader 2022/23 

Awarded Technician Plus Scholarship 2017/18 

Achieved EngTech MICE in 2019 

A day in my life

My day-to-day tasks and duties vary, depending on the role I’m undertaking and the project I’m working on.

My fundamental duty is collaborating within the track team and across disciplines.

My day is mostly spent producing designs, drawings and calculation files, and undertaking gauge clearance assessments (to check whether there’s enough space between the kinematic envelope of rolling stock and lineside assets/infrastructure).

I refine designs to achieve the best solution for the project and always find time to mentor and assist junior members of the team.

In a typical week, I attend two progress meetings and interdisciplinary checks as/when scheduled, where I:

  1. Confirm the status of tasks to contractor responsible engineers and project managers to monitor progress against the programme.
  2. Present track designs and gauging to clients and other disciplines to discuss and agree solutions.

I would urge anyone who is intrigued by civil engineering, or enjoys STEM subjects, to consider a career in the industry.

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

Inspiring person

My design and technology teacher, Mr Hebden.

The secondary school I attended was a specialist technology school with cutting-edge CAD & CAM facilities.

At the time, it was the first school in the UK to be awarded this status and have access to such facilities.

Mr Hebden was extremely proud, respected, and enthusiastic in his work and teaching.

The school and Mr Hebden encouraged me to pursue a career in engineering after excelling in resistant materials and product design and being recognised as ‘gifted and talented’ across the board in STEM subjects.

I later received the Outstanding Achievement Award for my school year and, of course, took their advice!

Inspiring project

Also, during my time as a year 7 pupil, a new school was being built in our school grounds (with the current school due to be demolished).

I was one of five pupils in the school who were invited to visit the construction site when the build was 80% complete, as a reward for achieving 100% attendance and the highest grades for year 7.

We received a formal health and safety brief and went on full site tour, which included referring to the technical drawings issued for construction and lots of Q&As!

Experiencing this site visit at such an early age was another factor which inspired me to become a civil engineer.

We asked Lucy…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

The influence civil engineers have on the world is unparalleled!

The extensive range of roles and opportunities the civil engineering industry has to offer is incredible. If you commit yourself to work hard and continually develop your skills, knowledge and behaviours, you will achieve at the highest level in this industry!

Civil engineers are high in demand and considered some of the most respected professionals in the world.

You're immersed in a world of civil engineering as you go about your daily life. Whether it’s travelling by rail or road, being surrounded by infrastructure, or having access to clean water.

Why not get involved in solving real-world problems, improving the world we live in, and lead us towards a more efficient, safe, and connected future?

I would urge anyone who is intrigued by civil engineering, or enjoys STEM subjects, to consider a career in the industry.

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

The Lego Tower Bridge set. It took more or less a whole weekend to build and seemed huge to me at the time. I also remember struggling to lift the box because it contained so many pieces and instructions!

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

An avid surfer and swimmer.

I’ve grown up on the north-east coast with perfect beaches, points and reefs on the doorstep, stretching as far as the eye can see.

When spending time away from work and home, my search for waves has led me as far as Tahiti.

If the conditions for surfing aren’t right, the pool is always open!

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

The challenge of solving problems and the fact we strive to make the world a better place for all.

Also, the rewarding element: I help to deliver rail projects which are constructed and used by millions of people. It’s satisfying when you see the positive impact of a project and can say “I helped make this happen!”

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

I didn’t appreciate the immense scale of projects until I started working in the industry. The collective work and the abilities of civil engineers never ceases to amaze me. 

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

This is a tough choice between the London Underground and the Channel Tunnel.

It would’ve been fascinating to be involved in the design of the London Underground when Charles Pearson first envisioned the idea of an underground rail network in the mid-1800s. And, to understand what the civil engineering profession was like back then.

It was such a pioneering project, the first of its kind, which redefined the definition of quick travel and eased London’s congestion problem.

Impressively, the underground also contributed to doubling London’s population over a 50-year period!

I consider it the greatest piece of engineering in the capital. It symbolises Britain’s ingenuity and London simply wouldn’t be the same without it!

In a similar respect, the Channel Tunnel was a revolutionary project and is recognised as one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’.

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

I’ve heard too often that “track design just involves drawing a couple of lines”! I’d like to bust the myth and misconception that track alignment design is ‘easy’ and/or ‘boring’!

Any personal causes or hobbies?

At SYSTRA, I lead the early careers group alongside the systems director and discipline lead. The purpose is to help build connections and relationships within the SYSTRA systems practice, to provide a support network for the future.

Apprentices who are progressing in their careers through to engineers are all part of the group. We’ve run a series of workshops to provide an opportunity for the individuals in the various systems disciplines to collaborate and share their knowledge and experience with the group.

During my first year at the company, I formed an ‘Education Awareness Scheme’ with a small group of colleagues.

The scheme ran for four years and involved visiting local schools and colleges, delivering presentations to share great examples of the work of civil engineers.

The purpose of the scheme was to ultimately encourage pupils to consider an apprenticeship following school and further education, outlining the benefits of apprenticeships, and speaking first-hand as apprentices ourselves.

Create an efficient rapid transport system for everyone working and living in London

London Underground

Create an efficient rapid transport system for everyone working and living in London

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel

The Channel Tunnel

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel

Lucy's career path

Following my A-levels, I applied for an apprenticeship with SYSTRA where I joined the track team as an assistant track technician.

After four years I became a track technician, then a senior track technician two years later.

I now have eight years’ experience and work as an assistant engineer in the track team.

My roles and responsibilities have developed from completing tasks and designs under the guidance of senior engineers, to managing delivery, budget and resources when acting as lead engineer on small (<£200K) projects and packages of work.

I’ve studied part-time on a degree pathway since joining the company. My apprenticeship studies began with achieving a BTEC in Civil Engineering Construction, then a higher national certificate (HNC) in civil engineering.

I’m now in my final year of the BEng (Hons) degree in Civil Engineering at Teesside University and plan to study a master’s after this.

I achieved professional status as an Engineering Technician (EngTech MICE) after four to five years working in the industry.

I’m now working towards Incorporated Engineer (IEng MICE) status, with eight years’ experience. Once I complete my master’s I will have eleven years’ experience working in the industry and chartership will be within reach.