A placement puts you ahead

Bryn Read_ Civil Engineering student

Bryn Read, from Devizes in Wiltshire, is a final year BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering student at USW.

Why I want to be a Civil Engineer

"I chose to study Civil Engineering because I like the idea that I will be able to make a positive impact to people’s lives, be that by constructing new renewable energy schemes for green energy generation or by redeveloping an area to improve the quality of life enjoyed by its residents. I also like working in the outdoors and civil engineering gives me this opportunity.

In my second year, I did a paid year-out in industry at Innogy Renewables UK Ltd, based in Dolgarrog Power Station, North Wales. After a few interviews with different companies, I was offered two placements but chose Innogy as working for a client or contractor is what I want to do after University.

Real projects and responsibility

I thoroughly enjoyed my placement. My role was as an operations and maintenance civil engineer, but I also took on additional responsibilities such as site supervisor and designer for small projects.

The main project I worked on was the replacement of two bridges on a main access track between two dams. The project gave me the opportunity to be involved with the whole construction process from site inspections and bridge assessments, to the design stage, the writing of tender documents, leading site visits and the being the site supervisor when the new bridges were being constructed.

I really enjoyed the variety of work. One week I could be sat at my desk producing CAD drawings and the next I would be out in the middle of Snowdonia attending dam and reservoir inspections.

I learnt a lot about workplace health and safety as well as health and safety responsibilities as a designer and site supervisor.

I also gained a deeper understanding of temporary works design and the types of temporary works, beneficial as nearly every site will have temporary works involved with construction.

North Wales provided a very scenic place to live and work for the year as well as providing challenges in work that most other places would not experience. This made you think differently about the materials and construction methods you could use at some of the remote sites. 

What I gained

Overall, the placement has helped me gain valuable “real world” experience and knowledge. It also gave me a practical explanation of what I have learnt in my first two years at Uni, and enabled me to make good industry contacts. It also helped me decide on my final year dissertation topic. Returning to USW I now feel a lot more focused and have a better understanding of the industry.

I would highly recommend a placement year, or at least a summer placement. As well as the money, you gain experience that will put you ahead of everybody else with a civil engineering degree.

Plus, if you haven’t decided what area of civil engineering you would like to work in this gives you a good indication of which area you might prefer e.g. working in consultancy, contracting or as part of the client’s team."