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My job explained: Civil engineer

civil engineerWatching his mother build their house in Malaysia inspired Shivrendren Anandakrishnan to learn more about how structures are made. He is now transforming London’s landscape with cutting edge high-rise buildings.

When did you decide to become an engineer?

I was quite young actually. I’ve liked the idea since I was 12. Some people tried to persuade me to do medicine, but I stuck to it. I used to look at things like bridges and buildings and wonder how they were made and that lead me to engineering.

Did anyone inspire you?

My mother. She built our house in Malaysia, even though she was a school teacher, not an engineer. She encouraged me to do my degree in civil engineering here in the UK.

Can you describe a typical working day?

I’m currently working on a live project so need to deal with lots of questions from the site. I have to go out on lots of site visits, where I check up on the building to make sure all the original designs are being followed. I’m now working on the design for a 20 story office building in central London. Another office building I’m working on is made of stainless steel. There is only one other building like this in the country, so it’s an interesting project.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The variety. I get to do a lot of things and meet tonnes of people and see stuff being done. I also love the fact that at the end of the project there is something physical to look at, that will last.

Are there any downsides?

The process involved in getting a project going can be quite repetitive, but then the buildings are all different which makes up for it.

Have you had to face any challenges to get where you are now?

I had a few money worries. My parents had to borrow a lot of money to get me to study here in the UK. I was given one change and had to take it. Then there was adjusting to a new culture, which was okay but you have to be mentally strong.

What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

Work hard!

What is your favourite feat of engineering?

Engineering has moved on from the 1960s. The sky’s the limit with new buildings and structures – cityscapes all over the world are what I find inspiring when I think of what engineers have done.