Civil Engineer

What do you do for a living?

I am Civil Engineer currently working for a Waste Management and Land Development Company. My role involves managing infrastructure projects as well as looking after environmental compliance matters for the company.

Currently this role includes the development of a Materials Recovery Facility to produce organic feedstock for an anaerobic digestion plant and refuse derived fuel for a plasma gasification facility, development of a hazardous waste treatment facility, construction of a composting plant and remediation/ closure of several landfill facilities.

On the environmental compliance side I look after matters relating to Planning Permissions and Environmental Permits for all of the companies facilities.

How did you get interested in what you do?

I have always been interested in engineering and construction projects, however at 17 I was not sure what I wanted to do. I had completed my Highers but had perhaps not done as well as I should have!

At this point I was contacted by the careers service at school who were asked to look out for possible candidates to apply for a trainee role in a consulting engineering practice. This lead to my first job and life in Engineering started from there.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? 

I left school after 5th year and started work as a trainee in a consulting engineering practice in Edinburgh working on major highway and infrastructure projects. I attended college on a day release basis for 4 years to obtain a National and Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering.

At this point I left work went to Heriot Watt University to undertake a BEng in Civil Engineering. After this I returned to consultancy working for two
further companies in Edinburgh on environmental improvement and development projects. During this time I undertook a MSc in Waste Management as well as taking professional exam for Chartered Engineer and Chartered Waste Manager status.

My role in engineering consultancy has developed over the years from starting as the office junior with the key job of making tea through being Technical
Director leading a team of staff and managing projects.

Talk us through a day in your life

At present I am managing the development of a Materials Recovery Facility to produce feedstock for an anaerobic digestion plant and refuse derived fuel for a plasma gasification facility.

This involves working with a team of consultants (Planners, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, Building Services Engineers, Architects, Ecologists, Acoustic specialist, archaeologists and landscape architects) who are helping preparing documents for planning permission and environmental permits as well as progressing the overall design of the plant. There is also interface with contractors who will be building the plant, our operations team on how the facility will run and be maintained and reporting to our finance team on how much the project will cost.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?

No at 18 I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate that when I started my first job at 17 I was mentored by senior engineer who helped me focus on obtaining additional qualifications to go to university.

Following graduation I have been fortunate to work with some excellent engineers who have assisted my development and continued learning.

What did your parents want you to do? 

My parents were keen for me to get a job, preferably with potential for training and development.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Look at the range of roles Engineers play in society and judge what you want to do, currently there are good opportunities in Energy and the development of infrastructure for this field.
There is good information on the Institution of Civil Engineers website on careers option.

What other career directions could you go in? 

There are a wide range of roles Engineers take on, there is development work, consultancy, construction, research and development, teaching to name a few.