The Department of Civil Engineering keeps in touch with its graduates, and these form a valuable network of industry contacts. Learn more below.
After graduating from the University of Birmingham in July 2011 with an MEng Civil Engineering degree, I started work in August 2011 for Costain as a graduate site engineer. I am currently working on a new build nuclear reprocessing facility at Sellafield in Cumbria.
On a daily basis I am partly responsible for the RC works on site and I am the engineer in charge of the beach works on the project. This entails prepping the beach for a sea barge to land and deliver modules which are eventually installed in the building we have constructed.
The high point of my career so far was overseeing a beach landing operation and coordinating several sub contractors during winter in the dark.
The added risks at night were a challenge to mitigate on such a vast work area with a large number of operatives working within a tidal zone.I think the experience I gained whilst working in the summer holidays during my university course was vital to getting a graduate job and for my career progression. I was able to get this experience through the UoB RESPECT sponsorship scheme.
Simon Edwards - Q & A
What degree did you take?
Masters Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience - MEng(Hons).
Where are you now working?
AECOM Ltd formerly “Faber Maunsell” - AECOM Technology Corporation is a professional technical and management support services conglomerate. Ranked in terms of revenue from design projects, the company was the number one design firm for 2010 and 2011 by Engineering News-Record and ranked number one by Architectural Record for 2008. It provides services in the areas of transportation, planning, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 46,800 employees in Sept 2012, AECOM is listed at #353 on the Fortune 500 list. The name AECOM is an acronym for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance
What you did immediately post-graduation (eg travel/go straight to work)?
Following graduation I decided to enter the engineering industry initially through a medium sized construction company call May Gurney, this allowed me to gain valuable on site experience and really helped me with completing a number of ICE development objectives. The smaller size of the chosen construction company allowed me to see a number of smaller projects from their initial inception through the construction phase to completion something very difficult to do with larger construction firms due to the larger scale nature of the work. A common misconception is that to be a chartered engineer you need to have been responsible for large scale projects, in my experience a sufficiently complex small project where you have full responsibility, decision making opportunities and practical application of design theory is a much more favourable proposition with regard to all round experience.
What kind of work you’re doing?
I am currently working as part of the structures bridge design team as part of the Transportation business line, based in the Birmingham office. A standard day, if there is such a thing, would require me to undertake a range of inspection and assessment works from inspections of basements of buildings to accommodate proposed local tram extensions, to full detailed design of30km post tensioned box girders in Saudi Arabia. The ability to remain flexible is important as design to both national and international codes of practice is required on a daily basis. Good communication and a can do approach to new challenges will provide you and your prospective employer with good working relationships, successful project delivery and excellent career prospects.
Your high point so far in your career?
My career high point so far has been working on the conceptual aspects of the Jeddah Middle Ring Road project providing feasibility design and detailed design aspects for a number of post tensioned concrete box girders structures. The bridges were designed to accommodate 12 lanes of traffic providing a link between the existing airport infrastructure and the southern urban districts. The project allowed me to gain a very detailed knowledge of construction sequences, cost, build ability, project programming and design of a large scale transportation project. The project also introduced me to new international code standards allowing me to become conversant in multiple codes improving both my understanding of design and its application for future international projects.
What you might do differently, if you knew then what you know now?
My advice would be to ensure you understand the requirements for becoming a chartered engineer fully before embarking on your career in the engineering industry. Unfortunately there is a tendency to compartmentalise engineers into bespoke teams which from a business perspective increases efficiency and productivity but it may not be as useful when trying to develop your own engineering experience. Exposure to both site and consultancy roles is imperative for becoming a well rounded professional engineer so ensure that when joining a company you will have the opportunity to sample the different engineering disciplines to get a general grounding and then choose to specialise, it will help aspiring managers to understand different disciplines and their individual challenges and constraints as there’s nothing better than first had experience.
If you studied with us and would like to see your profile or story here, please contact Jenny Steere, Industrial Liaison Officer, School of Engineering, on firstname.lastname@example.org / (+44) (0)121 414 5061.