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My Job Explained: Engineering consultant

My Job Explained: Engineering consultantJason Hyde designs, assesses and inspects bridges with engineering consultancy firm Mott MacDonald.

Could you briefly explain your job?

As a graduate engineer I work for a major civil engineering firm based in the UK. The term civil engineer applies to a whole host of different areas that you can work in. Personally, I work with a team of bridge engineers, and nearly all of my time is spent working on bridge-related projects.

As I work for a consultancy firm, Mott MacDonald, I spend a lot of time in an office working on assessments and inspections of existing bridges to the design of new ones and everything else in between. This involves a lot of maths and the use of some computer software to analyse complex structures and to create drawings so information can be passed along in an effective way.

When did you decide to become an engineer?

I decided to become an engineer from an early age. I think all the Lego and Meccano had something to do with it, as well as active interest in the way the world around me works and why it works!

What's your educational background, and how did your career progress from there?

I attended sixth form college where I studied Maths, Physics, ICT and Computing. This enabled me to progress to the University of Manchester where I studied for a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering. Finally, I attended the University of Salford where I studied for my MSc in Structural Engineering.

While at university, I held the ICE QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship award. The scholarship programme partnered me with a civil engineering firm for the duration of my studies, which meant I had regular contact with the industry I was training for. During my summer breaks I had a work experience placement with them so I could put into practice what I had been taught.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

I'd have to say that the 'best' thing about my job is my job! I've become part of a profession which has an extraordinary history and indeed makes history on a daily basis. I help to design, build and maintain some of the most iconic structures that have ever been built – what could be better than that?

The worst thing about my job would be the night time inspections of structures. But that's just my opinion – others would say it's the best!

What have been the biggest challenges in getting to where you are now?

The biggest challenge for me was getting a job! I managed to graduate at the beginning of the current recession period, but that was just that – a challenge, not impossible, and definitely doable. I used my periods of work experience to demonstrate my capabilities to my employer and that has paid off brilliantly.

Where do you think you'll be in five years' time?

The next step for me is to gain Chartership with the Institution of Civil Engineers. This involves me developing several of my attributes – such as my technical competence among other things - and gaining experience in several different areas of my job. So, in five years time I'll hopefully be a Chartered Professional Engineer!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

The best advice I can give someone is twofold. First, work experience is key and not difficult to get. The benefits you gain as an individual from working in the industry you’re training for are priceless. Second, ask questions! I personally don't think people ask enough questions - and don't be afraid of asking what you might think is a "daft" question because sometimes they are the most important ones!

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