NCE once again highlighted the best emerging talent in civil engineering through its Graduate and Apprentice Awards 2022 held at ICE in November.
The awards celebrated their 25th anniversary with the first winner Nicola McCleary returning as the keynote speaker alongside Anusha Shah, Senior Vice President of ICE.
This program was produced in partnership with ICE. Sponsors were Amey Consulting, Arup, Bam Nuttall, Expanded, GHD, Heathrow, Mott MacDonald and Stantec.
The three main categories – Graduate of the Year, Apprentice of the Year and Degree Apprentice of the Year – saw fierce competition, with a total of 121 entries.
Entrants were asked to consider the value of modern methods of construction in their submissions, prompting them to determine their vision of how the adoption of these methods would enhance and what benefits they would provide . The 15 judges were impressed by the applicants’ understanding of key industry issues and their passion for finding solutions.
In addition to the main awards, Outstanding Contribution to Net Zero, Outstanding Contribution to Digital Engineering and Outstanding Contribution to Industry categories were awarded once again.
Outstanding Contribution to Carbon Net Zero: james rollins
Over the past year, James Rollins has led a team within Arcadis that has identified places where it can improve the implementation of net zero practices. This inspired Rollin and his team to create a handbook listing modern methods of manufacturing with significant embodied and/or operational carbon reduction potential, including technologies, products and value engineering approaches.
It briefly outlines how the solutions work, actual opportunities for use, associated material and installation costs, potential suppliers, a case study, and other key benefits and drawbacks. “Project teams often don’t have enough time to go away and do research, so this gives them a resource to get the information they need,” Rollins says.
This is probably the best place to be if you want to make a lasting impression because you are in the area that is causing the most damage
It was this commitment to improving construction sustainability that impressed the judges and it’s a
The passion that has been building in Rollins over the years.
He recalls a drive across the Humber Bridge as a child that first sparked his interest in engineering. It was then as a student traveling to Crete to work on the conservation of sea turtles that he began to consider sustainability more deeply. “I started thinking about whether being there was a positive or a negative,” he says.
This only fueled his desire to become an engineer. “If you want to make a lasting impression this is probably the best place to be because you are in the area that is making the most damage,” he says.
Outstanding Contribution to Digital Engineering: sherrill wylie
The judges described Sherrill Wylie’s digital skills as “extraordinary”.
Wylie had joined the Lang O’Rourke team at the High Speed 2 (HS2) Old Oak Common site in its early stages and was tasked with aligning the 3D models for the programme.
This means manually assigning 3D elements and activity lines that will represent construction activities. This gave him an insight into how the project would be built and allowed him to establish himself on the team by talking to the engineers to clarify how each individual element fit into the whole.
I had no preconceived notion of ‘ideal’, I came in and asked: ‘Why is this not possible?’
She then moved from digital engineering to digital build and immediately began revolutionizing the company’s processes.
“One of the first things I started doing is not only tagging each element with its own specific code, but then linking that code to things like program context or business context,” she says. “From there, our models began More data is getting richer. Now we have quality plans, commercials and 3D models that are all linked together.”
using it he made new Dashboard for the project, linking each layer of data to the 3D model; something lang o’rourke hadn’t done before, “I didn’t have any preconceived notion of ‘ideal.’ I came in and asked: ‘Why isn’t this possible?'” she says. “And honestly, it’s a lot about me not wanting to do a lot of repetitive tasks — I just knew there was an easier way to do it.”
The impact of Wiley’s dashboard has spread across the company and she has now gone on to serve as a consultant on other projects.
Outstanding Contribution to the Industry: sophie rice
Sophie Rice is barely a year out of school, but is already a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassador at Bam Nuttall. He was given this role because of his commitment to going out of the office to talk to different groups of people about the work of engineers. In particular, the judges were impressed by her campaign to address the gender imbalance by talking about women in construction.
This imbalance is something Rice experienced during her years as a competitive cyclist, but never bothered her. This has made her keen to encourage more young women to enter fields where their numbers are high, particularly in STEM, and she is keen to intervene as early as possible.
You won’t find more women in the industry if not students
“The percentage of female students in STEM subjects is low, and you won’t find many women in industry if not students,” she says. “Though employment needs to be targeted, it needs to be approached from the study level.”
To that end, Rhys went back to her sixth form college to talk about the value of apprenticeships.
“Some people came up to me later and said they hadn’t considered apprenticeships or manufacturing, but are now going to look at it,” she says. “It sure is nice when you know you’ve made a bit of a difference.”
She now hopes to visit her secondary School too. “It’s an all-girls school, so it’s really important for me to go in and give those talks,” she says.
Apprentice of the Year: jack scott
The judges selected Jack Scott as “an obvious future leader of the industry” because of his passion and his breadth of industry knowledge. He first got a taste of life on a construction site when he visited New Zealand on his gap year and stayed in Wellington to work with a data cabling company.
In addition to gaining experience, Scott came away from the role with the understanding that “every problem has a solution, even if it doesn’t present itself easily”.
It’s a mindset that has served him well as he’s progressed Life as a trainee civil engineer in Ferrovial.
Working at the company’s flagship site at Heathrow Airport, Scott has proven himself in a wide range of jobs, from installing ducting for CCTV cameras to repairing deep patches on runways.
No matter the size of the project, Scott always has the big picture of making the industry sustainable and isn’t afraid to let it show, insisting on the use of 100% recycled asphalt on the runway.
On a recent small project to pour a concrete plinth he was frustrated that his team ended up using only a small fraction of the special mix concrete that was ordered.
“This is not something we should be doing as a sustainable business and I fed back to the designer saying there was no need [the special mix concrete]” he says. “Going forward, this is something I’m really going to be on top of.”
The judges were also impressed by her dedication to the cause and it’s a cause she’s championing in the workplace.
“What I have implemented on my projects at Heathrow is mandatory mental health first aid,” he says.
“I think we’re going to expand on that and train all of our supervisors in mental health first aid.”
Degree Apprentice of the Year: Kavita Sohal
Kavita Sohal enthralled the judges with her infectious enthusiasm, which prompted them to label her as an inspirational role model even at such an early point in her career.
While the Arcadis Apprentice firmly believes that the Engineers have the solution to save the planet, she has her feet firmly on the ground and isn’t jumping ahead.
She has an encyclopedic knowledge of modern construction methods but doesn’t believe everyone will automatically start using them. Instead she looks at things more pragmatically, understanding that moving the industry towards its sustainability goals will require a step-by-step approach.
Digitalization is one area she singles out are important in terms of increasing safety by reducing workers’ time on site and improving construction methods.
“If we can use more digital tools to consider the full life cycle of a project rather than just design, then construction is more than just a handover,” she says.
He already has experience on a wide range of projects, from signage to High Speed 2 maintenance access on the M4 Smart Motorway upgrade between junctions 3 and 12. She is making sure that every day is educational. “Something I’ve learned recently is that being an engineer isn’t just about doing your job, it’s about understanding how what you’re doing fits into the bigger picture,” she says. Huh.
“It’s about collaboration, working with other team members, and understanding other disciplines.
Then it’s about sharing it with everyone.
Graduation of the Year: Nicola Graham
Nicola Graham was praised by the judges for her vision of how projects of various sizes can benefit from modern methods of construction while helping local economies. He has developed this awareness and insight by working extensively in the water sector, first during his year in industry at Arup and now in his permanent role at WSP.
Graham was naturally drawn to water engineering and it was during his year at Arup working on flood defenses in Sheffield that he gained first-hand experience of the value of this area as Leeds city center was flooded – in which his Office included.
“It showed me what an engineer’s work could do to connect communities and made me very sure that I wanted to go to university to study engineering,” she recalls.
I love that I can make a tangible impact on communities, and hopefully people’s lives.
Since joining WSP he has worked on a wide variety of projects typically involving water – whether developing innovative scour sensors or adopting an integrated catchment approach to flood risk modeling in Somerset.
He has also recently been made Assistant Project Manager on the flood defense scheme for the town of Poole in Dorset.
“I love that I can make a tangible impact on communities, and hopefully people’s lives,” she says.
However, Graham is not only about his work, he is also committed to fostering a community in the office through his role as the leader of WSP’s Professional Development Network. It organizes social and learning events for the employees.
“Especially after COVID, I know the importance of having that community in office and enjoying the work,” she says. “I think it’s good to have outlets where people can chat with each other outside of projects and get to know more people.”
The judges for the final live stage were:
alistair awcock PMO & Infrastructure Director, Heathrow
Menon Bradley Development Director, Major Projects Association
Liz Chapman Consulting Engineering Director, Stantec
Claire Clifford Director of People, Culture and Skills, ACE
Peter Crosland National Civil Engineering Director, SICA
Antonia Farrow Project Principal, Mott MacDonald
steve feely Director Membership Recruitment, ICE
Catherine Goumel Head of Education, CIHT
Ken Harland Executive Consultant, Amey
sotiris canaris feature editor, NCE
Rhys Morgan Director of Engineering and Education, Royal Academy of Engineering
Matthew Raybould Technical Director, Stantec
Rosalind Thorpe Director of Education and Standards, CIOB
carol white UK Recruitment Director, WSP
Melissa Zanocco Head of Programs, Infrastructure Client Group
as you read Click here to receive the daily and weekly newsletter of New Civil Engineers.