Skip to content
Mercedes Ascaso Til

Mercedes Ascaso Til

principal engineer, DLT Engineering


Bridges, Design, Construction, Structural


United Kingdom
My highlights

Recognised in 2022 WES Top 50 Women in Engineering list

Chief engineer for the design of the self-erecting deck lifting gantries of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge, Turkey

Technical Excellence winner of the NCE 2019 Recognising Women in Engineering Awards

A day in my life

Most days I work in the office developing erection schemes and designing temporary works and equipment for the construction of many bridge types and bespoke structures worldwide.

I normally focus on concept development. I do preliminary calculations and produce sketches to illustrate the ideas to other members of the team.

I lead a team of engineers and CAD technicians. I support their work and perform design reviews. I mentor and train less experienced members of the team.

Some aspects of my work can be done remotely.

Occasionally I go to site to offer technical support during construction. It’s always exciting to see something built and resolve any challenges that might arise.

When required, I meet clients. I like to promote civil engineering and share our knowledge.

I give presentations in bridge conferences and talks in schools and other settings. I’ve also written several papers for the ICE Proceedings journal.

Construction engineering is a fascinating discipline of civil engineering. There’s room for innovation and creativity to develop effective, sustainable and safe building methods which can have a positive impact on the outcome of the whole project.

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

Although I don’t remember because I was just three years old, I’m told that when I first saw an iron railway bridge built by my great-great grandfather, I said: “This is what I want to do when I am older”.

I had other interests in my early teenage years, but I’ve always loved bridges, not just because of their structural form but also because they connect communities.

I don’t recollect a specific one inspiring me to be a civil engineer. There are too many beautiful and impressive ones. I like bridge spotting.

We asked Mercedes…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

It’s a very exciting job, full of challenges and teamwork.

My area of work is construction engineering of bridges and complex structures.

However, there are many fields within civil engineering, from water to transport passing through tunnels, bridges and so much more.

You can have a very academic role, work on site or anything in between. There’s a role for everyone.

It’s a job that you develop with others. You must collaborate with other disciplines and organisations.

When you work in engineering, you’re contributing to making the world and society a better place.

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

Surprisingly, I haven’t worked with Lego.

I did love playing with construction blocks as a child and they were the centrepiece of the inventive roleplay games I played with my sister.

I feel proud that my daughters built a diesel engine with Lego in a STEM event organised by Cummins Engines.

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

A mother, a daughter, a sister, a mentor and a person who tries to enjoy life to the fullest. I’m passionate about music, theatre, philosophy, poetry, travelling, art, and much more.

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

The technical challenges. Being able to use your knowledge and inventive skills to solve problems that are constantly changing.

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

All the work that goes into the construction process.

Construction engineering is a fascinating discipline of civil engineering. There’s room for innovation and creativity to develop effective, sustainable and safe building methods which can have a positive impact on the outcome of the whole project.

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

The Golden Gate Bridge. It’s iconic at the entrance of the San Francisco Bay.

Beautiful in the sunshine and when almost invisible due to fog. I was lucky to enjoy a walk over it when I worked on the Carquinez Bridge in 2002.

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

That civil engineering isn’t for women.

All attributes that you need to be a good civil engineer have no gender. The achievements of female civil engineers confirm this.

I believe in equality, and with that conviction I haven’t felt discriminated in a male dominated industry.

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal or professional challenges/difficulties?

I love my job. It requires quite a lot of intellectual effort to develop it well.

This means that any personal concerns soon move to second place while I’m working because civil engineering becomes the centre of my thoughts.

I feel lucky that I can disconnect from any personal problem by focusing on my job.

What are you doing to help fight against climate change?

We develop construction schemes and design temporary works as efficiently as possible to minimise materials and carbon emissions.

Where possible, we re-use materials and equipment, and retrofit previous solutions. We’ve worked in the construction of dams, which could prevent flooding.

In the construction supply chain, we’re second or third tier, so it’s difficult to implement radical approaches or take key decisions that will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of a project.

Any personal causes or hobbies?

I like to promote civil engineering among future generations and encourage more women to join the industry.

I love reading, listening to all types of music (from rock to classical depending on the mood), going to the theatre, walking in the countryside, travelling, and discovering new places and cultures.

I enjoy spending time with my family.

Image credit: Mercedes Ascaso

1915 Çanakkale Bridge

On site at the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge in Turkey.

Mercedes' career path

I studied the equivalent to A-levels in Spain. Subjects included maths, physics, chemistry and technical drawing.

I studied a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain. I specialised in bridges.

I graduated in 1998 and became a member of the Spanish Institution of Civil Engineers. Immediately after graduation, I started my career with Cleveland Bridge in Darlington, UK.

There was a management buyout in 2000 and the CBUK technical department became part of Dorman Long Technology, now DLT Engineering.

In 2002, I achieved chartered status with the Institution of Civil Engineers in the UK.

Four years later I became senior project engineer and in 2011, principal engineer.

Major projects