Sara spent her time at Atkins Global as a Trainee Engineer in the Underground and Tunnelling team. Working alongside senior engineers and her team supervisor Sara was involved in the investigation of construction sites at the inception of a new project, assessing samples of rock and soil on the site. Her specific tasks during this time included entering and investigating data from the collected samples using specialist software, creating mathematical models detailing the properties of the samples, writing reports based on these findings and finally designing shallow foundations that would work within the parameters of the soil and rock on site.
When asked about the highlight of her time at Atkins, Sara said: “One of the most enjoyable things about my placement was gaining an appreciation to what I had learned at university. All the soil properties that were introduced during lectures now had an implication during design. I also never fully appreciated at university how as an engineer you had to be able to speak the language of the electrical, structural, geotechnical and mechanical engineers, the architects and everyone else involved in the building of a structure.
By my second week I was already given work that was going to be added to reports that were being sent off for an infrastructure project in Doha, Qatar. This was definitely an achievement even if it may have been the smallest part of reports. Also, due to me having responsibilities, other people within my team were relying on my data/plots in order to continue with their respective sections.
However stressful that was, it was good feeling to know that I was a contributing member of a team and not just a spare part.”
Sara developed many skills whilst on her placement and recognised the less technical abilities that were vital to being a successful engineer. She identified that her organisational skills were challenged due to the multiple projects she would work on at any one time; Sara also took part in some in house training at Atkins which required to her to network with other staff and improved her ability to build relationships and communicate. On a technical level Sara learned a great deal about foundation and tunnel design; subjects that she will be covering in her third year which she will have real industrial experience in.
When asked to summarise her experience at Atkins, Sara immediately commented on the enormous benefits of taking such a placement. In her own words: “Now that I have a better understanding of the sectors involved I now know what kinds of projects I find interesting so hopefully, upon graduation, I should be able to choose the right jobs to apply for and not blindly apply to all graduate roles. From my experience working for Atkins it seems like a great company to work for with long term goals that seem exciting; this is the kind of company I would like to work with upon graduation.”
An interesting side note to this is that Sara was the first placement student that her office had taken on, and after their experience with her have decided to create a formalised internship programme from 2013 onwards.