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Lewis

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Lewis's STORY

Civil Engineer - Graduate
Kier Utilities

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As a graduate Civil Engineer, Lewis has worked on a variety of projects developing his skills and abilities. Find out why Lewis loves being an engineer and why the energy and utilities sector is a great sector to work in.

What do you do and where do you do it?

I have had the opportunity to be involved in multiple disciplines with Kier Utilities including:

Rail Operations – delivery of large railway civil and electrical projects. Civils’ Operations – Multi-utility projects including utility diversions for the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade project and, Delivery of a Wind Farm with works including turbine foundations, road networks, HV & LV installation and Water Mains. Design – Including railway civils’ designs and civil enabling design works for electrical installation on our UKPN framework contracts.

My job has taken me all over the South of England, while I primarily operate from either our Elstree or London offices.

 

What does an average day consist of?

My days a split roughly 50/50 between the office and a site environment. As a graduate engineer I am often given the opportunity to step up into other roles, taking on Site Management or Construction Management roles. I frequently engage with clients and stakeholders to resolve problems such as design, three party interface or constructability issues.

 

Why is your role important?

Although I undertake a slightly different role on each project I work, as an engineer I play a pivotal role in ensuring the delivery of each project. When working in the Civil team, I was often acting as the client’s first point of contact and providing solutions to potential issues before they arose.

Within the Design team I took ownership of a number of projects and ensured the designs were delivered to the clients requested timeframe and quality.

Which parts of the job do you enjoy most and find most rewarding?

I enjoy the variety involved in my job, not just in the fact that my training has allowed me to move between roles and different shifts, but in the fact that each day can be very different from the next. In particular, I enjoy the periods where we have one of the lines off for planned maintenance (an outage) during these periods I have been able to see inside parts of the plant that otherwise you wouldn’t normally see and understand how they work/what’s involved in that part of the process.

I also enjoy how active it can be; working in a plant with 9 floors and plenty of physical jobs helps to keep me feeling fit and healthy. 

 

What does an average day consist of?

Not having a specific role as of yet, my average day (or night shift) completely depends on who I am shadowing and how the plant is performing/operating. I could be doing anything from looking at risk assessments for contractors, to going out on plant trying to identify why we have certain issues or even pulling balls of wire out of our sand system below the furnace. 

 

What path did you use to get to the position you hold today?

In 2015 I started on the FCC Environment Graduate Management Trainee Scheme, my Scheme was broken up into 2 placements; Recycling Operations, and Energy From Waste. My first placement in Recycling was based in East Anglia primarily at our Refuse Derived Fuel Transfer Station in Norwich. Over nine months here I gained an understanding of how a waste management facility is run and managed, whilst taking on a number of supervisory roles.

Following this I moved across to Energy From Waste and started at Allington waste management facility. For my first six months I was with the Operations Team moving between each of the roles gaining an understanding of what is required from the operations team and how they are involved in running the plant. I then moved to the Performance Team for the final three months of my Scheme, here I reported on how the plant was performing; producing daily and monthly reports on losses in waste burnt and steam produced. I was also involved in presenting reports on the root causes of more major periods of downtime and discussing what we were going to do to prevent re-occurrence.  

At the end of my Graduate scheme I was offered a position with the Operations Team at Allington in order to provide me with more experience. This should provide me with the skills to step into a role once available. 

 

What did you do before?

I was at university in Reading where I studied Human and Physical Geography. I then spent 6 months in Africa and Asia before working in manufacturing whilst applying for graduate schemes.

 

What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector?

I first gained an interest in the energy sector whilst at university where I focused on ‘fracking’ for a number of modules and ended up writing my dissertation on the topic. I was attracted to the Energy From Waste sector as the concept of turning what most people believe is useless (general rubbish) into a valuable resource, was something that excited me. 

Every day is different and poses problems to solve, and that is what I really enjoy.

Which parts of the job do you enjoy most/ find most rewarding?

Problem Solving – I’m constantly required to solve problems, these are anything from finding a new design solution to how we are going to access a site in order to deliver the works. Every day is different and poses problems to solve, and that is what I really enjoy.

 

What degree did you do? What made you choose it?

I studied BEng Civil Engineering (Hons) at the University of Portsmouth, which allowed me to secure my role as a Graduate Civil Engineer. I am currently undertaking an MSc in Civil Engineering at the University of Greenwich, as it is a requirement in order to achieve Chartered Engineer status.

 

What do you think of the career prospects? Have you had much training and development?

I am being encouraged and mentored as much as possible to achieve my goal of becoming a Chartered Engineer. I have undertaken various training throughout my graduate programme. I have had the opportunity to tailor my training along the way, undertaking additional roles such as Temporary Works Coordinator and commencing my Masters.

 

Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?

I would definitely recommend my job to anyone who enjoys solving problems and looks forward to a career where every day is different.

Find out more about graduate roles at Kier and read other inspirational stories from the graduates working in our sector.

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