Logan explains why undertaking a placement is a great opportunity

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Why did you choose to do a placement as part of your course?

To gain practical experience within the industry through exposure to engineering theory and design on site, as well as to develop my versatility as an engineer. Experiencing the day-to-day of a civil engineer within the industry is fundamental in harnessing this versatility in combination with university studies.

My academic experience, coupled with industrial placement exposure has provided me with extensive knowledge, experience and evidence that has contributed towards my submission for CPD objectives and IPD attributes with the ICE, which upon completion of a master's degree will allow me to further progress to Chartership. 

What did your placement involve?

During my industrial placement, my role was within the Highway Operations contracting sector of Caerphilly County Borough Council, which focused predominantly on the project management side of the civil engineering industry. 

My daily tasks would vary considerably from the analysis and interpretation of technical drawings, to the organisation and allocation of project resources such as labour, plant and materials, as well as engaging in regular communication with stakeholders. The general basis of my role was to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of each project and its compliance with the initially proposed specification and design.

What kind of projects did you work on?

I had the benefit of being exposed to a diverse range of civil engineering disciplines and locally high-profile projects during my placement, which included landslide remediation, transport infrastructure, highway reconstruction and drainage system works.

What new skills and knowledge did you gain from the placement?

Collective working along with strong interpersonal skills was significantly valuable for this role due to the heavily communicative and diversely interpretative nature of the contracting industry overarching the placement. I continued to develop these vital skills throughout my placement when executing daily tasks, such as meeting with clients, contractors, and site operatives, as well as engaging in frequent conversations with the general public.

Despite the placement being predominantly site orientated, I was able to further utilise and develop my computational skills on design programmes such as AutoCAD when interpreting technical drawings, as well as commercial software such as Microsoft Office when liaising with project stakeholders and ensuring efficient project delivery.

Since completion of my placement, I noticed that my ability to visualise and adapt the practicality of a project which included the organisational elements, such as timescales, as well as the suitability of a design's proposed function on site, has noticeably evolved.

How will the placement help your career?

In terms of academia, my industrial placement provided inspiration for my final-year dissertation project titled 'Low-carbon Geosystems; The barriers preventing their innovation’.  It has also provided me with practical knowledge that can be harnessed and applied to theory learned throughout my academic and professional involvement within the industry and will continue to do so post-graduation.

Throughout my time on placement, I gained and have consolidated strong relationships with an array of invaluable contacts within the civil engineering community. Contacts from my placement, as well as having been provided the opportunity to explore varying avenues of the industry, have since contributed to my decision to further my academic and career pathway and I shall begin my specialism by undertaking the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering programme as Newcastle University, starting in September. 

For professional and personal development, I would highly recommend considering an industrial placement year as it is definitely an enjoyable and insightful addition to the undergraduate programme here at the University of South Wales.

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