New Civil Engineer reveals the new crop of talented award winning civil engineers
A recent report from Engineering UK, a body which works to get more young people to the profession identified a global trend known as the hourglass economy.
It argues that while there is sufficient demand for low skill jobs, there is also continued demand for highly skilled professionals. It is in the narrower middle of the hourglass where demand is shrinking, and this represents demand for what were once known as blue collar jobs.
Nowhere can the findings of the Engineering UK report be seen more clearly than in civil engineering, where digitisation means that, increasingly, what was once a simple, manual aspect of an engineer’s job can now be done more efficiently by a computer. So, while the complicated thinking is left to the human brain, it does mean there is a shift on the horizon in terms of what civil engineers do and how they spend their time now that some tasks, including simple design work, are increasingly automated.
The new generation of engineers will lead the profession through this transition. These engineers are forerunners in the use and design of technology which will soon become commonplace, while bringing wider thinking about the purpose of infrastructure.
ICE President Andrew Wyllie recently told New Civil Engineer that he is determined to see a shift in mindset concerning the importance of technology to the civil engineering profession. “I am not saying there aren’t specific skills and standards for, say, designing bridges. My argument is that skill alone is not enough to be relevant in the fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Wyllie.
And if you want to see what the modern engineer looks like, New Civil Engineer’s Graduate and Apprentice awards winners, are already taking a lead in their firms in areas such as machine learning.
With more than 100 submissions from graduates and apprentices representing almost 50 firms, the engineers were judged on academic and engineering skills, with an emphasis on enthusiasm, initiative and leadership potential. They not only had their written submissions scrutinized but then faced a gruelling 20 minute Dragon’s Den-style pitch with the panel of 16 judges.
Congratulations to the winners.
Winner | Apprentice of the Year
Employer: Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB)
Apprenticeship details: Currently studying at Leeds College of Building doing a BTEC Level 415 HNC/HND civil engineering course
Making a difference to the world is a key motivation for many young people entering the civil engineering profession. For Ruth Watson, it was on her gap year to Bolivia, where she saw the big impact small changes could make.
In Bolivia, she visited a women’s prison to give an opportunity for inmates’ children, who live with their mothers to attend school.
It is this wider outlook that has impressed the team at Mott MacDonald. Her boss says: “Her impressive list of extra-curricular activities shows her social awareness and the need to contribute to society around her; something that is essential in the civil engineering field.”
Watson currently works as a project leader in the dams and reservoirs team, working on three reservoir safety improvement projects.
One of the areas where she has made a huge impact is in carbon management. On seven projects she trialled a digital tool which compared the impact different construction methods had on carbon emissions, for example in pouring of concrete and the constituents of the concrete.
“Through the carbon tool I have proved that all the seven schemes have saved huge amounts of carbon emissions due to smart detailed design.
“I have shown that 700t C02e amounts of carbon were saved at Digley Reservoir alone. I am now the carbon portal representative for reservoirs. This involves encouraging people to use the tool as much as possible and explaining how it works,” she says.
Apprenticeship details: Currently studying part time for a BSc Civil Engineering; EngTech MICE
Ollerhead’s entry stood out because of his work to help develop a concrete crack detection application through machine learning for scanning site images.
His photogrammetry research and development project is a truly ground-breaking tool – it is in line with the kind of technological advancement the industry is shouting for.
From the development of this prototype, his team won an Arup Global Research Challenge in 2017 and recently an i3P Spark award worth £25,000 to develop and to disseminate this technology.
Ollerhead has taken serious and professional approach to his vocation, currently undertaking a part time degree in civil engineering, achieving top grades and quickly gaining EngTech MICE, and winning an ICE Quest Scholarship.
He says his apprenticeship has been “everything I wanted and more”.
“I truly believe that apprenticeships are the best way companies can harness driven, early-career staff who can embrace the use of technology and help push the boundaries of industry best practise.”
Being an advocate of the scheme he contributes to the development of the apprenticeship scheme within Arup’s Infrastructure London Group.
He assists with open days, assessment days, interviews and provides feedback on prospective apprentices.
He is an apprentice representative for the Arup quarterly board meeting, where early-career staff discuss issues with senior Arup management.
For the past year he has been active in the British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM) group, initially on the professional development committee and now as an associate member.
Other Apprentice Finalists
Apprenticeship details: Civil engineering level 3 Apprenticeship completed this year, civil engineering degree apprenticeship underway
Working for an SME, Clapson has been given free rein to progress and develop technology within the business. But he does this wisely. As he explains: “As we are an SME we have limited resources and time to commit to developing technology. It is therefore important that we use them effectively for maximum gain. While development in the industry is exciting, it would be unwise to jump on the bandwagon with every technological advancement. It is always important for us to start with the big picture and understand the end goal and what we want to achieve.”
For example, when he joined Marbas it produced all drawings using AutoCAD and this limited the firm’s ability to tender for jobs which required the use of building information modelling. The first task he completed on joining was implementing Revit, and producing a range of custom templates, modelling objects and workflows to allow the firm to use it effectively.
Apprenticeship details: Joined the company on a level 3 apprenticeship in October 2015
Hall has a talent for data analytics. A recent project for Southern Water involved using historic incident data to automate a range of mitigations to reduce property flooding from sewers. Southern Water’s in-house delivery team was struggling to meet the programme for delivering the solutions using traditional techniques so Hall proposed using digital technology to automate the processes. He successfully created a process made up of a number of workspaces that, when run in sequence, automatically read over 8M lines of data, identify problematic areas, propose the best mitigation to the problem and display relevant information in an easy to access way.
Apprenticeship details: Level 3 apprenticeship completed in 2016; awarded EngTech professional membership of the ICE
McCormick is already making a big impact in the industry. One of the key aspects of his role is advising clients about how they can utilise the latest technologies.
He is currently working with Highways England and its Pavement Efficiency Group in advising and proposing how it can improve the highway network through use of the latest machinery.
Winner | Graduate of the year
University details: Masters in civil engineering from Imperial College
Year of graduation: 2016
Venturing into the unknown can be as daunting as it can be exhilarating, but one attribute required is fearlessness. And that’s what Karoline Lende has in spades. Simply put, she is unafraid to take the very latest technology, apply it to engineering, and learn from the results.
Lende is currently working as an engineer in Arup’s Advanced Technology and Research team. Projects she has worked on cover everything from structures, climate change, computational fluid dynamics and machine learning, through to pedestrian wind comfort, building physics, micro-climate, and software development.
Gaining so much experience in just two years has already helped her start to build up a particular focus on analysis, scripting, fluid dynamics, and machine learning – all at the cutting edge of engineering.
The work is already bearing fruit. For example, her research into machine learning in natural flood management has led her to develop land use classifiers that far exceed the quality of freely available open-source mapping data.
And a theme which consistently ran through her entry, was sharing her learning and knowledge, including bringing machine learning to building projects and an offshore wind farms to improve fatigue damage prediction.
She said: “You can see the work that you’ve done around you and you can see on a project how this is going to affect the future and the cities that you’re in.
Sharing knowledge comes through workshops, and Lende has been recruited to the Arup digital disruptors team.
University details: Civil engineering degree at Cardiff University
Year of graduation: 2017
Baker is currently assistant construction and planning manager for Mace at the Greenwich Peninsula Upper Riverside apartment towers: a two-phase residential project with a contract value of £355M. Her achievements include developing a system of tracking construction progress on the site by using a system to scan QR codes. Her manager said: “Phoebe continues to actively seek out better ways.”
Employer: Mott MacDonald
University details: BEng and MSc at University College London with a distinction
Year of graduation: 2016
Fahed grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon with limited opportunities. But in 2010 he won a full scholarship to study A-Levels at Eaton College in the UK and he applied for a degree course in engineering at University College London. He now works for Mott MacDonald, where he is working on Crossrail 2. His collaborative and innovative approach earn him the respect of clients and colleagues alike.
University details: University of Auckland Degree in civil and environmental engineering
Year of graduation: 2016
Joining Arcadis as a bridge engineer, Jonathan has had a major impact on Lower Thames Crossing project by introducing a digital innovation for optioneering a series of complex curved and highly skewed bridges, improving accuracy in the design of complex elements such as the interface between earthworks and structures. His employer describes him as proactive, insightful and creative.
At the Awards
The awards were presented at a gala lunch in the ICE’s Great Hall, before an audience of more than 150. Guests heard ICE vice president Paul Sheffield, last year’s winner Charlotte Murphy and Alison Watson, chief executive of Class of Your Own, a new educational standard that provides more hands on engineering learning in place of GCSEs and A Levels.
List of judges
Isabelle Adams head of scheme design, Crossrail 2, Transport for London
Michèle Dix managing director, Crossrail 2, TfL
David Bennett managing director, Topcon Positioning
Stephen Coker divisional director, Mott MacDonald
Darren Colderwood development director, Heathrow Airport
Gordon Deuce chief engineer, Mace
Mark Reynolds chief executive, Mace
Steve Feeley director of membership recruitment, ICE
Ken Harland executive adviser, Amey Consulting
Chris Mulligan divisional business development director for transportation, SNC-Lavalin Atkins
Charlotte Murphy graduate engineer, Arup
Alison Norrish director, Arup
Rachel Skinner executive director and head of development, WSP
David Smith senior vice president, corporate strategy, Stantec
Phil Stride external affairs director, Tideway
Alison Watson chief executive, Class of your Own
Kate Morris director, Aecom