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Natalie Cheung

Natalie Cheung

Stem Ambassador Coordinator

Expertise

Design, Project management, Structural

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Design for a new railway station in Kent & Assistant project manager on HS2-related works

Awarded YMCA England & Wales Young Leader of the Year 2018

The University of Manchester Medal for Social Responsibility 2019 for volunteer work

A day in my life

Each member of my team manages relationships with different partners including councils, companies, universities, schools, professional engineering institutions or government departments.

Communication is key in my role to build rapport and maintain relationships. I visit and support our partners to develop their STEM outreach programmes. I attend events most weeks to promote the STEM Ambassador programme and also get to organise networking events.

I value the opportunity to meet people from lots of different STEM fields in my job. There are lots of reasons why someone may volunteer as a STEM Ambassador and it’s my job to help them to actually engage with young people and have a valuable impact.

I love using my experience of both volunteering and engineering to motivate and train others to volunteer.

I'm a civil engineer, but I'm also... A volunteer. I took a sabbatical to volunteer overseas for six months on government-funded international development projects.

My career inspiration

I was inspired by Crossrail where I completed summer work placements as a student. These exposed me to the variety of jobs available in transportation.

Before this, I wasn’t aware of the extent of civil engineering in infrastructure projects. I was based at Farringdon Station where there were large excavations for ticket halls, some tunnel boring machines coming to the end of their journeys and archaeologists uncovering Black Plague burial grounds!

We asked Natalie…

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

I’ve met so many proactive people who are really passionate about making improvements in the civil engineering industry, beyond their day jobs. They work to improve safety standards, diversity, wellbeing, policy and more.

I’d encourage all to get involved with the different Institution of Civil Engineers committees and panels to make change in whichever area they care most about. This industry is really made up by those in it and people treat it as more than just a job!

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

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

There are three sky-scraping towers that make up a hotel with a huge roof structure connecting them all. The roof has the world’s longest public cantilever, a park and a sky-high infinity pool. It’s an iconic structure and helped put Singapore on the world stage.

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

That civil engineering is only for those who love maths at school.

There are lots of routes into the industry, including for people who don’t want to study maths at A Level.

would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

Engineers work in teams and solve real world problems! I’m a person who’s motivated by working with other people.

It’s great to come together with people with different expertise to deliver one collaborative design. It’s important to me that my job has a real-world impact.

Many civil engineering projects are for the benefit of the general public, directly or indirectly. There’s a real sense of motivation and achievement when you know a project is being delivered to benefit a local community.

what about being a civil engineer inspires you?

I’m motivated by working with other people and on projects for other people. It’s so encouraging when people from lots of different fields of expertise come together and collaborate on a project which will make a difference for the local community.

Education

I studied Maths, Computing, Physics and Latin at school and went on to study Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester.

During my studies, I gained experience working on the Crossrail project in London. I joined an international built environment consultancy when I graduated, where I worked in the transportation team on rail projects. After completing my graduate training, I moved to my current role at STEM Learning, where I feel I can have a wider impact on the civil engineering industry.

I’m currently completing a diploma with the Chartered Management Institute during my free time.

Hobbies

During a sabbatical, I spent six months volunteering overseas on government-funded projects.

In 2019, I was involved with the YMCA’s 175th year celebration including delivering a talk at the conference with thousands of young leaders from around the world!

I love being part of engineering committees, including the ICE’s Graduates and Students network.

I’ve met so many inspiring and proactive peers pushing for progress in safety, inclusion, professional development and more.