April Shackley

April Shackley

After graduating, I started working at AKT II, which was a graduate post and I was thrown straight into a team and started working on real projects.

AKT II is a structural engineering firm based in London who work with many high profile architects on exciting projects. My role is working in a team with other engineers who have different levels of experience on structural design of buildings. I've worked on projects in various sectors and participated in all stages of the design life. One of the best things about AKT II is that you can be working on anything from a huge scale of mixed use development in central London, to a temporary sculpture for an art exhibition. As a graduate, my job is different every day but it involves tasks like designing by hand calculations and analysis software, producing sketches, writing reports and checking drawings.

I really enjoyed art, maths and physics whilst I was doing my Alevels, however, I wanted to study something more practical and vocational at university so I chose Civil Engineering. After my first year I decided to change to Architectural engineering as I had more opportunity to use my creative side, as the course was more designed based. I chose Leeds because I loved the campus, and I walking around during the open day it felt like the way I had always imagined university to be.

I completed a MEng degree because as a structural engineer, it was more beneficial to have a MEng for becoming a chartered engineer. The design projects I did during my masters' year were the most relevant to the job I have now. One of the benefits of architectural engineering was covered by the course modules, in both architecture and building services, which helps when working with these professions in the real world.

The best aspect of the course was doing the design projects, as it was a chance to be creative with the use of my own ideas. It also helps me to understand the theories learnt from lectures when I can apply the maths to a building I have designed myself. The support from my tutor was brilliant and really helped me to get a good degree overall. The best thing about university is the friends I have come away with, Leeds is a city full of students and it's so easy to meet people.

I worked at the student union for 3 years where I met a lot of friends. I was also in the Leeds University competitive cheerleading team, the Leeds Celtics. We trained 4 hours a week and won competitions all over the country, and it was also a great way to meet people from different backgrounds.

Engineering is an excellent industry to get into, especially for girls, as there is a shortage of female engineers. All of my friends who studied the same course at Leeds now have jobs at reputable companies in the industry, so it goes to show Leeds graduates are valued. The course isn't easy, but if you like to be challenged and work hard then you will be successful in university and your career.