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Rachel Hayden

Rachel Hayden

bridge engineer, WSP

Expertise

Construction, Project Management

Location

United Kingdom
My highlights

UK Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award 2018 winner

ICE President Future Leader 2022/23

ICE QUEST scholar

A day in my life

After checking and responding to emails, I meet with the build partner to find out where they’ll be working across Poole and Christchurch that day.

Throughout the day I will visit the construction sites, checking the work, completing audits and solving any problems.

This might involve working with the planners to make design changes to ensure that we can build the new full-fibre network.

I also meet with different people to solve problems and implement new initiatives to improve health and safety, diversity and inclusion, and quality on the project.

Once the working day has finished, I enjoy playing sports such as golf, tennis or hockey!

So much of the world around us is designed, built and maintained by civil engineers and we have a huge role to play to make the world more sustainable and achieve net zero by 2050.

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

I had the opportunity to work with Linda Miller OBE when I completed work experience at Farringdon Station on the Crossrail project, and she’s a true inspiration.

She’s an inspirational construction director who leads teams to build iconic projects such as Crossrail, Sydney Metro and now the Metrolinx Ontario Line.

We asked Rachel…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

It’s a career that enables you to make the world a better place. Every day is different and challenging, which makes it really rewarding when you finish a project, and you can say “I built that!” 

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

I think the most complex thing I’ve made out of Lego was a castle, when I was growing up. I think I spent numerous rainy weekends in the winter building it!  

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

A sports woman and musician!

If I hadn’t become a civil engineer, I was going to become an opera singer, perform at the Royal Albert Hall and record at Abbey Road Studios!

I also enjoy playing hockey, golf and tennis in my free time.

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

The thing that gets me out of bed every morning is knowing that I’m making a positive difference and building things that are improving people’s lives!

Whether it’s building a hospital, generating clean electricity through nuclear power, or providing the UK with the first full-fibre network.

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

Before I started working in the industry, I don’t think I realised how much of an opportunity we as civil engineers have to make the world more sustainable.

So much of the world around us is designed, built and maintained by civil engineers and we have a huge role to play to make the world more sustainable and achieve net zero by 2050.

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

If I could’ve worked on any civil engineering project past or present, I would’ve loved to have been part of the construction team for the Bazalgette sewer system in London.

The sewer system helped to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in London by eliminating cholera and reducing the number of typhus and typhoid epidemics in the city. It would’ve made it extremely rewarding to have been part of the construction team.

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

That civil engineering is just for men! There are so many trailblazing female civil engineers in this profession. I love volunteering as a STEM ambassador encouraging more girls to enter the industry when they’re older.

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal hurdles/difficulties?

Yes, definitely! I think due to solving problems and overcoming problems on a daily basis as a civil engineer, it makes you more resilient to overcome any challenges in your personal life too!  

Any personal causes or hobbies?

I enjoy volunteering as a STEM Ambassador and inspiring the next generation to become civil engineers! My hobbies include playing hockey, golf and tennis as well as singing in semi-professional choirs.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

Highway project in Australia

Winning the UK Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award in 2018 gave me the opportunity to complete an all expenses paid work experience across Australia. I got to visit multiple projects including Sydney Metro, 100 Mount Street, ACT Law Courts and the Pacific Highway.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

Crossrail

I did work experience at Farringdon Station on the Crossrail project.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

Grange University Hospital

Working on the Grange University Hospital in Wales.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

Hinkley Workers Campus

Working on Hinkley Workers Campus in Bridgwater.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall

Attending BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

Image credit: Rachel Hayden

UK Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award

Receiving the UK Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award in 2018.

Rachel's career path

I completed A-levels in maths, physics and music before going to study a masters degree in civil engineering (with a year in industry) at the University of Bath.

I got to complete summer placements and a year in industry with Laing O’Rourke throughout my degree, as a result of being awarded an ICE QUEST scholarship.

I also completed my PRINCE2 project management qualifications during my final year at university, due to the funding I received from the Royal Academy of Engineering, with the Engineering Leaders Scholarship.

I graduated in July 2021, and after a few months on the Laing O’Rourke graduate programme, I moved to Bechtel to become a field engineer on the CityFibre project in Poole and Christchurch.