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Arup, Bellway Homes and Balfour Beatty grads win big

Three winners celebrate

Graduate engineers from Arup, Bellway Homes and Balfour Beatty have been named New Civil Engineer Graduates of the Year 2018.

Arup graduate Charlotte Murphy, Bellway Homes graduate Christian O’Brien and Balfour Beatty graduate Jonathan Knight beat off competition from more than 100 gradautes representing 49 different companies to be named consultant, client and contractor graduate of the year respectively.

They were presented with their trophies at a gala awards lunch in the ICE Great Hall on Friday in front of an audience of more than 150.

Naming three winners was a new move for 2018 and was designed to test a theory that these three types of organisations are very different in their nature and seek different skills in their graduate talent.

The nine finalists were judged on both academic and engineering skills, with 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.

And in the end, all nine finalists were highly talented and all three winning graduates were outstanding candidates who are already making a positive impact in the industry. But more than that, they also had a clear vision for what they would do as New Civil Engineer Graduate of the Year.

Charlotte Murphy

However, from the three winners the judges’ picked Murphy as the graduate who New Civil Engineer and the ICE will work with to develop her idea of creating a recognition and best practice event for engineers who “Do More” through charity work and other extra curricular activity.

In her role as graduate bridges engineer on Arup’s civil structures, bridges and tunnels team Murphy has worked on the new light rail link between Luton Airport, which was once voted the worst airport in the UK, and the existing network rail station. 

Murphy is passionate about improving diversity in engineering and she has spearheaded a campaign to change Arup policy and mandate the use of general neutral language in communications in a bid to promote inclusion within the company. Encouraging “outside engineering” will be her priority as Graduate of the Year, which is perhaps unsurprising for an engineer who was Cambridge Engineering Society events officer, winner of the IStructE’s Pai Lin Li Travel Award and recently became a reserve Army officer in the Royal Engineers, while also finding time to run the Great Wall of China marathon, trek to Everest base camp and climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Client winner

Christian O'Brien

As a graduate at Bellway Homes, Christian O’Brien’s career highlights include engaging with stakeholders, being a main point of contact for residents near a “contentious development”, clearing challenging planning conditions by producing construction and environmental management plans and planning statements, and leading the design with external consultants to achieve “buildable and cost-effective solutions”. After a few months with the company he was responsible for the engineering project management and coordination of three residential developments, with a gross value of around £100M.

While studying at the University of Surrey he found the skills he was developing as an engineer were transferable to his role volunteering at a youth club, where he says his proudest moment was preparing and delivering bids to the council to secure local government funding for the club.

Contractor Graduate of the Year

Johnathan Knight

At Brunel University Jonathan Knight said he learned about the “social responsibility and change the industry can bring about”, and decided to focus his dissertation on the removal of fluoride from drinking water in less economically developed countries, winning the Emerging Engineers Award 2016 London Regional Prize. As an environmental coordinator at Coca-Cola Enterprises while on his year in industry he was particularly proud of saving the business around £10,000 through process improvement projects in the factory.

In his current role as graduate site engineer at Balfour Beatty working on the Tideway project he organised a stand-up comedy night on site for staff and operatives to focus on welfare and mental health, with attendees saying, “the event made them forget that they were on a construction site”.

Read more about the winners and the six finalists in the next issue of New Civil Engineer.

The judges 

  • Arup Infrastructure London Group director, Alison Norrish
  • Buro Happold graduate engineer Brittany Harris
  • Topcon business manager David Bennett
  • MWH UK chief strategy officer David Smith and marketing director Graham Dickinson
  • Aecom strategic planning and advisory EMIA director Kate Morris
  • Amey consulting and rail business director Ken Harland
  • Atkins strategic highways market director Lesley Waud
  • Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds
  • Crossrail 2 chief executive Michele Dix CBE
  • Tideway strategic projects director Phil Stride
  • WSP head of development and executive director Rachel Skinner
  • ICE director of membership recruitment Steve Feeley
  • Heathrow directors Darren Calderwood and Phil Wilbraham
  • Mott MacDonald director Paul Norris

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