Current employer: Atkins
Current job title: Graduate Civil Engineer, Nuclear New Build
Current location: Bristol
“I am currently working on a project worth in the region of eighteen billion pounds. To put this into context, this is more than one and a half times the total cost of the Channel tunnel. I make decisions on a daily basis which could save, or cost, millions of pounds.”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
Since graduating in May, 2015, with a first class honours in MEng Civil and Coastal Engineering, I spent my last university summer backpacking in South America. On my return to the UK, I moved to Bristol and started work at Atkins Engineering Consultancy in the nuclear new build sector. I am applying my knowledge gained from my time at the University of Plymouth across a broad range of projects, from technical design and verification to site management and assurance. To date, I have worked on technical verification for concrete shear walls, steel weld checks, and I am currently seconded to Hinkley Point C New Nuclear Power Station.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
The first day on site was daunting. I was expected to hit the ground running, and I had an experienced workforce looking to me to make quick, accurate, and safe decisions about day to day activities. I rose to the challenge, seeking advice and guidance where appropriate and developed a good working relationship with the operatives working for me.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
I am currently working on a project worth in the region of eighteen billion pounds. To put this into context, this is more than one and a half times the total cost of the Channel tunnel. I make decisions on a daily basis which could save, or cost, millions of pounds. We are using earthmoving equipment which can move thousands of cubic metres of earth a day. The scale of the project is extreme, probably bigger than most people working in my industry will ever work on. The nuclear industry is about to restart in the UK, and I am very excited to be working for an organisation on the leading edge of this restart.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
I would look to get a job sorted before the final year of university. I did not take the job I was offered after my placement, whereas friends who did take a job avoided juggling their dissertations, final year projects, and travelling around the country for interviews.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?
In the engineering world, experience is vital. It is never too early to apply for internships or work experience, even if it is a few weeks work for a local firm. I had just over a year on-site, gaining experience while studying at the University of Plymouth. While it was hugely beneficial when it came to applying for jobs, it also helped me to realise that I did not want to pursue contracting; instead, moving into a more technical role.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
The broad spectrum of modules provided by the University of Plymouth gave me a solid grounding in many fields – some of which are not studied at other universities. This gave me the advantage when it came to interviewing for jobs. The University of Plymouth also has excellent facilities and very supportive academic staff. Both of these aspects helped me to develop and achieve my aims.
What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
The HSE Part 4 SCUBA course was excellent. This course was a second year, year-long module, and trained students to dive and work underwater. I have not ended up using the diving per se in my professional career, but I have used the knowledge of the maritime industry to assist with coastal projects I have worked on since.
Do you stay in touch with other University alumni or lecturers?
Yes, I have connected with a number of my old lecturers on LinkedIn, and keep in regular contact with a large number of university friends and colleagues. It is especially exciting to see people in the years below coming up to join my company in next year’s intake.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?
The University of Plymouth has put a huge amount of investment into the engineering department. I was lucky to benefit from the new Marine Building to do practical work for my dissertation, but the diving school and other facilities are also excellent. In addition, the course covered a broad range of engineering; from technical analysis to construction management, resulting in a comprehensive knowledge base when moving into the workplace.
Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?
Make the most of everything the University of Plymouth has to offer. Ultimately, you are there to learn, but make sure you supplement that with as many extracurricular activities as you can.
Inspired by this story?
For more information about mechanical engineering please visit our MEng Civil and Coastal Engineering. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Engineering please visit the school page.
Want to find similar alumni?
If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni are currently doing, please visit the engineering and robotics interest area.