At Will Rudd we have a diverse multi-talented team. Our people excel at all levels, fulfilling technically challenging roles across a wide (and often niche) range of engineering disciplines. And, when it comes to inspiring the next generation of engineers, I would say that our business is rich with individuals who do just that. Our people are tremendous ambassadors for the profession: project leaders who are passionate about their subjects and who generously share their expert knowledge and insight with colleagues and clients alike.
A typical day isn’t typical
Irem Serefoglu, an experienced project engineer who recently joined our practice,
has worked in regions where women typically don’t go for technical jobs. She told me that as a woman in engineering, it’s always fun to surprise people with your knowledge and technical skills, and yes, I agree, that’s definitely a nice part of our job.
Getting involved in varied projects is key to developing talent and honing technical skills. One of our newest recruits, for instance, graduate engineer Ira Abu Omar, like her colleagues, experiences typically untypical days. Ira works on all types of projects, such as designing structures in steelwork, new builds, roof trusses and underground pipes.
Project engineer Nikki Devon Brannan Johnston, on the other hand, could be out one day (or night) on a Mobile Elevating Work Platform, hanging over a bridge doing inspections, the next she could be crunching numbers for hydraulic modelling. Her colleague, senior engineering technician Tracy Milne, could be onsite undertaking surveys; or drawing 2D and 3D layouts.
The job is varied, never the same, and is for everyone. This is what we try to impart to all those thinking, or not even thinking about joining our industry.
We know the importance of mentorship and outreach programmes and we visit schools with the aim of encouraging students, particularly girls, into engineering. We also support university students through sponsorship of their Civil Engineering Society. Through initiatives such as these, I believe that we are playing a small part in ensuring the country has enough engineers for the future.
The best part of our jobs
I think I speak for all engineers when I say that a highlight of the job is seeing a project you have worked on come to fruition and knowing that it will be seen, used and even admired for years to come. And projects really do come in all shapes and sizes. I myself have worked on Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport — I am still very proud every time I travel through Heathrow to know that I contributed to it.
It's not all mega-scale, new projects, I also led the redevelopment of a local project with Edinburgh Council. Usher Hall is a Grade A listed concert hall and required a new extension at the back, to accomodate additional office space.
My colleague Shirley Evatt, Senior Associate, who has been with the firm since the nineties has led many ambitious and diverse projects. The more unusual ones that spring to mind include designing bases to support huge model giraffes; and redesigning steel trusses to make sure Concorde’s tail could fit inside an aircraft hangar. Shirley is now working on the multi-million-pound refurbishment project of the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.
The power of networking
Today there are many great ways in which young engineers in the industry are supported: Professional networks and organisations like the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) do a great job in supporting the youth and bringing them into the industry.
IStructE have just recently concluded their Young Engineers Conference, which brought together the next generation of construction leaders to discuss critical issues facing the industry and make connections. The annual Young Researchers Conference brings together structural engineering practitioners, academics and PhD students in a showcase of outstanding research projects as do the Institution’s many awards and competitions.
Meeting others in the profession through the various events that these bodies host can be inspiring – the importance of having an opportunity to exchange new ideas with fellow professionals on anything from implementing new technologies to best practice, cannot be overstated.
Engineering undoubtedly makes for a rich and varied career with so many opportunities to grow and learn within a given role and to advance through the practice.
My advice to anyone out there, especially the women and girls contemplating a career in engineering: Just go for it! There are not many jobs where you point out structures to other people and say, “I did that!”.
Inspiring high school students
Inspiring children to design
About the author
Gillian Ogilvie is managing director, Edinburgh, at civil and structural engineering consultancy Will Rudd