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Monika Szczyrba 

Monika Szczyrba 

Graduate Engineer, Wastewater and Floods

Expertise

Water, Design

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

QUEST scholarship winner

ICE President Future Leader 2018/19

Royal Academy of Engineering scholarship winner

My working day

I start my day at about 8.30am and check my emails and a list of things to do to see if the client has any urgent issues. I usually work with a wastewater networks modelling team to see if the proposed solution to flooding will work hydraulically.

I also look at the outline design and any constraints onsite to constructing it. I make sure I highlight all issues and speak to my team about them, preparing a mitigation plan of any risks identified.

I also work with the CAD [computer-aided design] technician who helps me present the drawings of a solution design.

I spend my afternoons writing up findings in a report and prepare any plans and figures that explain my reasoning.

During lunch I usually do some yoga, and I finish working before 5pm. I then head home to cook some dinner and meet with friends!  

An amateur cook and breadmaker. I dance salsa and do yoga in my spare time and I love backpacking around the world! 

My career inspiration

If I were to name one project that inspired me to become a civil engineer, it would be the Panama Canal extension, which was crucial to the marine trade worldwide.

There were a lot of interesting aspects to it, such as, how do you deal with the differences between salty seawater and the freshwater lake when the ships pass by? I found the scale of this mega-project really impressive and inspiring. 

Monika Szcyrba on site visit on HS2 Thames Water 42" Trunk Main diversion project in Euston, London
Monika Szcyrba on site visit on HS2 Thames Water 42" Trunk Main diversion project in Euston, London

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

I get to work with people from so many different disciplines on a daily basis - it could be a local council, environmental expert or a government agency, a project manager and many more. Every day is different! 

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

A civil engineer working in the office only works on calculations and doesn’t interact much with people - completely the opposite! It’s all about the team effort and the majority of my daily job includes dealing with logistics and planning of the proposed solution in real life and trying to design out all the possible risks that can occur.  

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

In the future, I would like to work with coastal communities to find ways to protect them from the effects of climate change and rising sea levels around the world.

I love the people side of the projects and I just want to continue making a positive difference to society.  

What about being a civil engineer inspires you?

The fact that I can help and support our communities. In my current role, I try to help and design long-term solution to flooding issues and make sure people have safe and dry homes to go back to. 

Would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

Every day at work is different and exciting and you make a real difference to the communities around you. 

Education

I started with a Year in Industry scheme for pre-university students ran by the EDT [Engineering Development Trust].

I worked for two years gaining experience and deciding whether it’s the right career for me.

After that, I studied MEng Civil Engineering with Spanish at the University of Sheffield. Every summer, I worked on the placements through the ICE QUEST scholarship.