NCE’s Graduate Awards celebrate individuals whose flair for civil engineering goes beyond the nine-to-five, and past winners have used the prize as a springboard for their careers, as Ruby Kitching finds out.
The careers of WSP design package manager Claire Gott and Mott Macdonald graduate civil engineer Jamie Radford would always have been on a steep trajectory given their natural talent for problem solving and enthusiasm for civil engineering, but both agree that entering and winning the NCE Graduate Awards - in 2011 and 2012 respectively - has added another dimension to their lives.
Their opinions are now sought after and valued by the industry as they take up posts within the government’s Green Construction Board, the ICE and specialist committees within their own companies. Gott was recently invited by NCE to take part in a round table discussion about engineering equality, and Radford has taken part in an industry-backed youth in construction debate.
Winning the Graduate Awards has, Radford says, “helped open up a whole new area of my career that I find fascinating and hope to build on in the coming years”. He adds: “The recognition from being shortlisted can serve as a great springboard for your career, opening up opportunities that might not otherwise come your way, and obviously looks great for your company as well.”
Gott was praised by the 2011 awards judges for co-founding international development charity Cameroon Catalyst, which brings together students, engineers and specialists who lend their expertise to sustainable development in villages in Cameroon.
In fact, when NCE contacted her, she was in Cameroon working for the charity, which is now in its fifth year, and has helped a medical centre, school and better housing to be built. Back in the UK, her responsibilities are no less onerous as she coordinates all disciplines on the £750M interim works contract for the redevelopment of London Bridge station.
Radford also impressed judges in 2012 with his international development work, which highlighted the problems of treating faecal sludge in developing countries and emptying latrines. His interest in this topic has been combined with his day job.
“I am just finishing a two-year project providing specialist advice on the physical strength of the human waste found in pit latrines,” he explains. “This supports the development of better technologies for emptying and treating this sludge, which is a huge sanitation and health issue in high-density urban areas.
“It’s been a really interesting project, applying geotechnical engineering principles to an entirely different field,” he adds.
Both winners say that entering the awards, being shortlisted and meeting the judges was valuable experience in itself.
Radford adds that never before has the profession been so called upon to solve some of the world’s problems: “Civil engineering is such an important profession, making profound contributions to economic, social and environmental sustainability. Add to that the fact that the industry will see massive changes in the coming years - in lean design, BIM, sustainability and low carbon delivery - it’s the perfect time to lead that change.”
The deadline for entries for this year’s Graduate Awards is fast approaching. The awards are open to anyone who graduated in 2013 with a civil engineering - or related - degree or postgraduate course. Entries close on 9 September 2014. For further information visit www.graduates.nce.co.uk or contact Alex Frayne on 0203 033 2904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.