Vaselious Tilegrafous, MEng Civil and Structural Engineering student at the University of Leeds

Vasileios Tilegrafos

What is the name of the company you worked for and what do they do?

I work at Jacobs in Leeds, in the Sustainable Solutions in Water and Environmental team. The team participates in fluvial and surface water viability studies, flood risk analysis, GIS, economic appraisal, and hydraulic designs.

What is your role within the company?

I am working on fluvial and surface water studies, surface water drainage design, hydraulic designs (such as culverts, embankment, ditches etc.) and AutoCAD drawings.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

The typical day starts at 8:30 am, when I will discuss with my line manager the process of the existing projects that we are working on, or my future participation on the next project. Usually, this will be working on projects where engineering knowledge and calculations are needed. We also sort meetings and discussions for each project, and changing ideas is a typical activity. My working day finishes at 5:30, having a sort break around 12.

What have you enjoyed the most and did you get involved in any interesting projects?

The team are theoretically divided into two teams; the one team with engineers and the other with geographers, which undertake the fluvial and surface water reports. I really enjoy the projects where hydraulic designs are required using my engineering background taking a significant responsibility, as originator, for the compliance of the project. More analytically, one of the most interesting projects was the culvert design on the A465 highway in Wales. I was responsible to complete approximately 20 culvert designs, displaying each of them a unique particularity. This involved being in contact with people from different offices and various of disciplines (drainage team, highway team) due to the high importance of the project. I was participated in the project almost two months not only using my water engineering knowledge but also evaluating all the parameters around the project. It also required solving any potential issues, such as topographical, level of existing road, and creating a sustainable design.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I was really interested for a year in industry from the first year, and it was my main goal during all these years in university. This year I will have the chance to gain in depth a technical experience, enlarging my engineering skill and looking at the contracting side of civil engineering.

What did you get out of this experience?

First of all, I have the chance to work under real work conditions, feeling the pressure and the stress of a real project. I also enjoyed cooperating and discussing with different people, while improving my communication skills and my professional character. The most important advantage is the conveyance of pressure in productivity, understanding in depth the importance of time and organisation on the work.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Be patient and have faith in your knowledge and capabilities; do not be discouraged by the first rejection. A year in industry is a really good experience and the first step for your professional future; do not stop to try for it.