- Course: Civil and Structural Engineering MEng
- Job title: Industrial Trainee
- Company: Mott MacDonald Limited
What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?
Mott MacDonald Limited, is a global engineering consultancy firm with further advisory services across finance, business and management. The company is one of the world’s largest employee owned business, with a total of 16,000 employees delivering projects in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America. Focusing on a national scale, MacDonald is one of the UK's most recognised multi-disciplinary engineering design firms, enabling full internal co-ordination during delivery of major infrastructural development projects with minimum outsourcing of work. Previous notable projects include the Channel Tunnel and Wembley, with current work on Crossrail, Thames Tideway and High Speed 2.
What is your role within the company?
As an industrial trainee the company has ensured I obtained a breadth of professional experience over the year; covering a variety of roles and responsibilities. To date, I have worked in project controls, building information management (BIM), and project/ commercial management and engineering design.
My structural design work has been primarily focused on surface ancillary structures across the project. This covers steel (predominantly base plate and anchor bolt connection details), reinforced concrete and flexural capacity of free standing masonry piers and walls.
I co-ordinate my designs with other disciplines to ensure integration of individual assets and work with the CAD technicians to produce general arrangement and reinforcement intent drawings. Support for most has been ground bearing, requiring geotechnical capacity checks to size shallow and piled foundations. My designing has been subject to checking and validation from senior engineers, with feedback providing improvement opportunities. I record all analyses’ in report form containing both hand and computer calculations. Each engineer must then summarise the design methodology and works description in a combined package design statement.
I also manage sub contracted reinforcement detailer Premier CAD. Regular communication with Premier CAD allows me to: regulate our supply of reinforcement intent work for detailing against their resource availability; monitor their drawing output against our programme requirements; resolve outstanding problems and maintain drawing quality. Drawing progress is tracked and conveyed back to senior management weekly, allowing them to manage our employer expectations against Premier CAD performance. Part of this process involves coordinating a CAD and engineering review of all drawings produced, and issuing all marked up changes to Premier CAD if necessary.
In addition, I work with our CAD manager to aid in model based delivery and management of the common data environment, including model validation and COBie. I also run Navigator and AECOsim software training sessions on how to effectively manipulate models and complete composite model clash detection. Fortnightly meetings with our employer allows opportunity to address outstanding actions and raise queries.
During the early stages of placement, my role was focused on project controls of technical and commercial information. Developing the required knowledge over a one month period of monitoring and training allows me to take on project document control responsibilities when permanent members of the team are on leave. I have also previously run virtual reality taster sessions at the digital construction conference and a company health and safety week – advanced digital software raising major interest for future projects
Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?
- Arrive into work. (8:30am - 9:00am)
- Review and respond to emails. Note this is typically throughout the day however concentrated more in the morning upon arrival.
- Any meetings will run from 9:30 – 11:00am.
- Begin working through individual tasks of the day (tasks vary each day).
- When I leave is dependent on upcoming deadlines and the next day’s actions. (5:30 - 7:00pm)
What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?
I've been working on Thames Tideway for the entirety of my placement thus far and will be till I finish. As an infrastructural project aiming to achieve the largest environmental clean up in UK history to date, contributing to the team delivery a complete design of the East package feels very rewarding. Designing is the most enjoyable part of my job, particularly using advanced FEM and modelling software in parallel. Broadening my understanding of BIM, gaining experience in project management and co-ordinating with other disciplines has been invaluable experience during my placement so far.
Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?
To implement and improve my professional skills and technical understanding in a working design office. All further development can then be applied into my final year of academic study to improve work quality, time management and ease applications for graduate schemes. I was also fully aware of the beneficial impact doing an industrial placement would have on my CV and future job applications.
What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?
It has given me an insight into the tunnelling industry, increasing my motivation to pursue a career in this sector. When comparing my experiences against the ICE chartership attribute list, it is evident the range of roles and responsibilities have contributed toward becoming proficient in several categories. I have developed my general understanding of tunnel, shaft and CSO construction and design practice methods, whist learning how to deliver a project of this scale at the detailed design stage.
Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?
- Apply early with the aim to secure an interview before Christmas, taking the pressure off during January exams.
- Aim to get involved with the team socially - greater team involvement will maximise your enjoyment.
- Don't put too much pressure on yourself to achieve the same standard of work as other team members with years more professional experience.