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More female role models needed, says rising civil engineering star

Bechtel senior engineer Claire Rose, a nominee for the Rising Star category of the 2015 Women in Construction Awards, shares the moment she took the first passenger train across the Elevated Railway in Reading after managing its construction. She says how it felt to pass her professional review, and what she thinks would inspire more women to join the profession.

What first piqued your interest in civil engineering?

Both of my parents are engineers and my mother is a civil engineer. I was fortunate in that I was able to see the opportunities available first hand, and from an early age.

Did you consider any other careers?

I considered medicine and pharmaceuticals, but I chose civil engineering in the end - I was drawn by being able to design and create the infrastructure that is around us.

Claire Rose

Rose: Key player on the Reading Elevated Railway project

What makes a great civil engineer?

Curiosity, the desire to really understand how and why things work, and creativity - to overcome the challenges you are faced with and deliver the right solution.

What is your current role?

I am executive assistant to the programme director for Network Rail’s Great Western Route Modernisation Programme, which has over 400 staff working to modernise and electrify 260 miles of Brunel’s railway from London to Swansea.

What is your career highlight?

My proudest moment was on the 4 January 2015 when I took the first passenger train across the Reading Elevated Railway.

I have been managing the construction of the Elevated Railway and Feeder Lines since 2013.

The project will increase the number of trains passing through Reading and the grade separation reduces the amount of time passengers will be waiting either side of Reading Station.

I was responsible for the construction of the feeder line embankment which is a 1km railway embankment spanning over a concrete underbridge and series of concrete culverts.

You recently passed your professional review. How did that feel?

Becoming chartered signified an important step in my career. It also brings a great sense of achievement, credibility with colleagues, and respect from the wider industry.

What would you say to young women considering a career in civil engineering?

If you enjoy maths and science and like the idea of creating a lasting legacy in the built environment, this is the career for you.

What do you think would encourage more women into engineering?

Having a greater number of female role models - not just in the industry but in the public eye - will help break down misconceptions.

What other initiatives are you involved in?

I have been an active member of ICE at regional and national level, promoting the interests of graduates and students.

This culminated in me becoming chair of ICE’s Graduate and Students Network in 2013. I have also just started mentoring some younger engineers - I find it rewarding to watch each of them develop and to help inspire the next generation.

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