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Rachel Hopson

Rachel Hopson

Graduate Engineer, Wood Thilsted


Design, Project Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Getting to work in the offshore wind industry every day is amazing.

My first site visit in Greenwich. The project was a real challenge but very interesting.

Getting the chance to work in Wood Thilsted's Copenhagen office was great.

How I became a civil engineer

I got my dream job after working at Wood Thilsted as a placement student. I studied for an  Undergraduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering with Industrial Experience at the University of Exeter after achieving three A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Geography. I then got an undergraduate placement as an engineer at OWC (Offshore Wind Consultants) whilst at university.

As a civil engineer you get to work on global projects that will shape the world we all live in and stand the test of time for future generations to come.

A typical day in your life

Since starting my career in October 2019, I have now spent the majority of my experience working from home due to Covid-19. My day generally consists of: 

  • Large group meetings, including spending time on video calls to check in on each other and where we are at with our progress and to offer any help anyone may need.  
  • Improving internal software in order to perform tasks and work towards projects to deadlines. 

  • One-to-one meetings with my team lead or supervisor to present my findings and discuss any queries I have. 

  • Report writing and presenting my interpretation of soil profiles and conditions of the site to be used for foundation design of the wind turbine. 

We asked Rachel…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because...

You will get to work on global projects that will shape the world we all live in and stand the test of time for future generations to come.

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

One year for Christmas my brother and I received the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego set with over 7,000 pieces. It took from Christmas to New Year’s Day for my brother, Dad and I to build - but it looked incredible!

We still have it put together now on top of my brother’s wardrobe – as we didn’t dare take it a part.

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

Katy Perry inspired me to become a civil engineer. When I was 14 years old, I went to a Katy Perry concert at the O2 arena in London.

I was amazed by the scale of the stadium and how thousands of people were able to watch one person perform at such a setting. Alongside restaurants, bars, cinemas and a shopping centre all under one domed roof in the centre of London.

In addition to onsite transport links and road networks, which allowed all these people to commute safely home at the same time.

It was at this time when I realised how Civil Engineering has the potential to transform the space around us and make an incredible impact on our daily lives. And as a coincidence my first site visit as a student intern was in Greenwich alongside the O2 arena!

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

A keen football player. I played for my county and at university and love to play in my spare time.

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

Working with my team and knowing that every day can present new challenges that I can learn from.

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 realise how much I would enjoy being part of a team and all working together on a project to achieve the desired goals and the feeling of satisfaction when it’s completed within the timescales. Also that no question is a silly question as all engineers have something to learn from each other.

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

I wish I had been a part of the design and construction of the Mariana Bay Barrage, in Singapore.

Built to reduce the impact of flooding on the island, where Monsoon rains cause some areas of Singapore to be under 2m of water and in the past thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes.

The Mariana Bay Barrage has successfully provided protection to a number of low-lying areas in Singapore, as well as providing a sustainable source of fresh water and creating a leisure hub for residents and tourists to enjoy, with attractions such as boating, kayaking and dragonboating. The stunning views of the city’s skyline as well as the original sustainable design is a fantastic example of civil engineering.

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

That not all civil engineers are technical experts using mathematical equations out of textbooks.

Civil engineering requires lots of different people with a wide range of skills - from Health and Safety Experts to Contract Specialists and Project Managers.

My favourite projects

Changfang and Xidao wind farm