Explore: Engineering

Graduate Engineer
Halcrow - Cardiff

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Alex J

00:00:02 My name’s Alex J, I’m a Graduate Engineer, working for Halcrow. I’m currently designing structures looking at flood defence schemes. It’s a lot of sort of calculations, and just sort of designing solutions to problems.

00:00:20 I’ve had two years’ experience, and I’m currently looking to get Chartered as an Engineer, which is about another year and a half more work. Hopefully then if I pass those exams, I can sort of tailor my route, going on sort of management courses, and doing less of the technical aspects. So hopefully sort of become a Project Manager in due course.

00:00:42 I find my job very rewarding. There’s a lot of opportunities to sort of see things actually happen, and make a difference. I know that sounds sort of corny, but I’ve sort of been out to see some of the schemes that I’ve designed, and actually seeing them built is – is very satisfying.

00:01:00 My father was an Engineer, which I think really sort of spurred me on from a young age, so I think that was sort of a real incentive. And then I was interested in the Sciences and Maths at school. So I think it’s probably almost a natural progression to go from those subjects to engineering.

00:01:17 At school I didn’t work as hard as I should have, I don’t think. I was more interested in playing sports. I mean to be honest I don’t know if I would have got into Cardiff University; but I had an interview, sort of got on with the chap that did the interview, and then rang him up on the day of my results, and then he managed to get me onto the course.

00:01:35 The chap that actually got me on my course, he was a real inspiration. I think a lot of people at University don’t really have a mentor as such that they can go to, whereas he was really sort of like a sort of parent almost, in looking after us, and sort of always congratulated us when we got good results.

00:01:55 I had a gap year, and I went to Canada to be a ski and snowboard instructor. That was great fun, skiing’s one of my passions, and I got an opportunity to actually teach at the end of the course. Which really was very rewarding.

00:02:11 When I finished University, I went and worked for a Estate Agents in London, ‘cause I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, after four years of studying, I thought I needed a break. But I didn’t really feel the job was very rewarding, compared to the sort of thing I wanted to be doing.

00:02:29 I’m planning to go travelling as soon as I get Chartered as an engineer, and hopefully then the opportunities abroad will be a lot greater than they are currently. I think that’s one of the advantages of engineering, that you can go and work, and then possibly have a bit of time out, and work somewhere else. I mean there’s engineering going on all over the world, and a lot of my colleagues have gone to New Zealand, Dubai, Australia, the Far East. I mean there’s a host of opportunities, and I’m just hoping to try and get involved in some of them.

00:03:00 My growing up was pretty much predominantly dominated by sport, I would say. I played pretty much every sport you could. Being involved in team sports at University has really helped me sort of communicating with the project teams that I’m involved with. It’s very similar sort of attitude, where if everyone works hard then you’ll get a good result. And its certainly something I try and give a hundred percent if someone’s asked me to do something at work, or on a sports pitch.

00:03:28 I’ve got a photo here of an event that we were involved in, which we were sponsored by work to take part in. And what it is is you have to build a flying machine from scratch. And then you have to push the flying machine off a ramp, and see how far you could fly. We actually came third, out of the forty teams that flew on the day, so it was really putting our engineering to – to do something useful in our eyes. For third place we won £1,000 – and we could have had parachute jumps as well, I believe, but we went for the money!

00:04:05 ENDS


Alex J is an engineer working for Halcrow. At the moment he’s working on flood defence schemes. He wasn’t sure if he was clever enough to get into university, but he got on well with the interviewer, who continued to be his mentor all the way through his course. Now he’s working on becoming chartered as an engineer. After that he hopes to take up one of the engineering opportunities that are coming up all over the world, in New Zealand, Australia and the Middle and Far East.

More information about Building and civil engineering technicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

86%  male 
14%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Building and civil engineering technicians perform a variety of technical support functions to assist civil and building engineers.
Entrants usually possess a relevant BTEC/SQA award or an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III. The status of engineering technician is obtained after a period of further training at work and upon gaining the membership of a professional engineering institution.
  • Sets up apparatus and equipment and undertakes field and laboratory tests of soil and work materials;
  • Performs calculations and collects, records and interprets data;
  • Sets out construction site, supervises excavations and marks out position of building work to be undertaken;
  • Inspects construction materials and supervises work of contractors to ensure compliance with specifications and arranges remedial work as necessary.
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Top 10 industries for this job
Civil engineering 4499
Construction 4152
Specialised construction 2955
Architectural & related 2371
Retail trade 1049
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