A career in engineering runs in the family – both my dad and grandad were engineers – and I’ve always enjoyed the idea of using maths to solve technical problems. At school, I studied maths, geography and economics because I knew that civil engineering was a good mix of the three. Maths supports technical problem-solving, geography helps to understand the environmental impact of engineering, and economics considers the value of money while focusing on the doing good for the community.
After my A-Levels, I went to university. But I quickly realised it wasn’t for me – I wanted to learn on the job instead of in a lecture theatre. What drew me to the WSP apprenticeship scheme was that students could spend 80 percent of the time working on real-world projects, and 20 percent on learning, coursework and exams for university. As soon as I started, there was an understanding of the importance of this study time across the company. We also had opportunities to ask to work on projects relevant to our modules. On top of my apprenticeship, WSP also supported me to achieve my Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) EngTech professional qualification.
The first project I worked on was HS2, the new high-speed railway that will transform Britain's transport network. In this project, I joined the design team to produce the highway crossing drawings. After that, I worked on the North-West Relief Road, a brand-new highway in Northampton, where I helped to design new traffic signs and accommodation access for farmland affected by the new road. Since then, I’ve been working on Shropshire Council’s Sustainable Drainage Works, carrying out investigations, identifying issues, improving drainage and mitigating flood risk. Our aim is to use as much of the existing infrastructure as possible to reduce carbon and support WSP’s Future Ready initiative. We are looking at taking steps that will address flooding issues in a more sustainable manner.
I’m currently building up experience that will contribute to my Incorporated Engineer (IEng) Review with the ICE and the end of my apprenticeship - this will demonstrate that I have the competence, knowledge and understanding needed to become a member of this prestigious institution at IEng level.
Alongside this work, I’m also an ambassador for STEM @ WSP, a scheme set up to support young people interested in a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. As there is a skills shortage and skills gap in the industry, I’m eager to make a change and do this by going into schools and showcasing what I do to a diverse network of people – not just in the UK, but overseas as well. I recently received a Quest Scholarship set up by ICE to enable young engineers to bring their ideas to life. Using the grant and my own fundraising, I’m hoping to plan a trip to Malawi to build a school hall there. My involvement with the ICE made me recognise my commitments to society, the profession and the environment, which is integral to my ongoing STEM outreach.
I consider myself to be ambitious; I don’t like standing still for too long. Coming runner-up in the Best Emerging Talent category of WSP’s Awards made me feel so valued by the company and my colleagues. At this stage in my career where I am still learning, praise and acknowledgment gives me the confidence to go the extra mile, to volunteer and encourage more young people to follow a career in engineering and the built environment. The more backgrounds we can bring to the table, the better ideas and opportunities there will be for innovation.