Last week I did some work for NCE Insite magazine. The title is aimed at 14-18 year olds and is a mix between a digest of engineering news and features from the main magazine and some targeted features on careers and development. I was writing a couple of these features and they made me think about how the civil engineering profession is changing. The careers that young engineers are considering now range from working on civil elements of wireless networks, to flooding and logistics. When I graduated from Manchester as a civil engineer in 2001 the options seemed quite different – either consultant or contractor, and you went where they needed you! I ended up in a design office for Babtie working on wastewater projects. As much as they were great, and the team was full of lovely, clever people (like Janet, Peter and Tony), I knew that there was not enough about the job to keep me interested. However if I had spent my time reacting to flood events for the Environment Agency, assessing the impacts and designing better solutions, I may not have become a journalist……OK I probably would but I may have stayed a bit longer. For its part the EA has been working hard to improve its training and attract young engineers – it even has a degree programme now.
Communications is also a relatively new career path. One of the young engineers I spoke to works for Balfour Beatty and travels the country erecting telecoms masts. Another is promoting renewable energy schemes. I got excited writing about some of these jobs! I hope some of the students that read it do too!