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Top of the Class: the story so far...

Enter NCE’s Graduate Awards to win career changing opportunities, says David Hayward as he profiles our current graduate superstar.

Reigning NCE Graduate of the Year Claire Gott is having an eventful 12 months. So far the 24 year old has swum across an ice-packed lake, walked on burning coals and received several nasty electric shocks. She has crawled through mud-filled underground tunnels and interviewed construction minister Mark Prisk.

Diplomatically declining to answer which of these events was the most exciting, the WSP structural engineer instead points out that all are linked to her NCE award.

Tackling the 20km obstacle course, described by its designer British Army Special Forces as one of the world’s toughest, raised over £1,400 for Gott to donate to the engineering charity Cameroon Catalyst she co-founded four years ago with fellow Southampton University civils undergraduate Emily Hill.

It was this passion for overseas aid work, involving the £90,000 redevelopment of remote Cameroon village Bambouti, that helped score her top marks from the 17 strong Graduate Awards judging panel last November - a prize which included the Mark Prisk interview.

“Civil engineers have the ideal skills to really help change the lives of people in developing countries”

Claire Gott

Ministerial action to hopefully foreshorten the current ban on Olympic structure construction companies publicising their achievements, heads the newsworthy events she prised out of her hour long chat with Prisk earlier this month.

“This memorable experience, plus the visibly higher profile I now have within WSP are all a direct consequence of winning the award,” says Gott, who gave her £1,250 prize money to her Cameroon charity to help its work in Bambouti.


“We now have just three children to a desk instead of six and no one has to sit on the floor,” says Gott.

“Civil engineers have the ideal skills to really help change the lives of people in developing countries. Our work in Bambouti continually reinforces my belief in having made the most satisfying and rewarding career choice.”

At WSP her bosses have singled her out to sit on a small company-wide taskforce charged with brainstorming ways to improve business performance. And deputy managing director Mark Naysmith asked her to shadow him for a day offering, says Gott; “an invaluable insight into the way a senior civil engineering director has to draw on a wide range of personal skills other than engineering to manage people and work challenges.”

The construction minister has also recruited her to join one of his Green Construction Board working groups advising government on best practice for public sector projects.

Impact assessment

Gott is spending her summer holidays taking a 15 strong multinational group of architects from the charity Architecture Sans Frontières to Bambouti to conduct an impact assessment on the redevelopment work.

If you graduated last year, why not enter this year’s awards and compete with the best of your piers to be in with a chance. You have nothing to lose and just maybe a lot to gain.


New Civil Engineer Graduate Awards 2012

The awards are open to anyone who graduated in 2011 with a civil engineering or related degree. To enter online, and for further information, visit or contact David Hayward, Graduate Awards secretary on 01325 461149. Email:




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