Grad Projects: An Inspiring Last Year on Our Graduate Programme

Added: 29th October 2018 by Atkins

Celebrating our Grads’ remarkable work, we ask Will Lavelle about the highlights of his final graduate year. Read on to see why he describes it as “the most action-packed, interesting and rewarding year of my career so far…”

Tell us about your biggest project this year.

I’ve had the pleasure of working on Thames Tideway, one of the largest infrastructure projects currently in construction in London, with a large multidisciplinary team. I started out learning the ropes as an Assistant Engineer. Now, thanks to plenty of support, training and on the job challenges from SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, I’m leading the structural design for three of its seven sites. Much of what I do entails managing a team of structural engineers and CAD technicians.

What kind of things do you do from day to day?

The project demands solving coordination challenges between the disciplines every day. For example the civils and architecture teams have been collaborating on devising complementary movement joints between interacting structures. So there are plenty of meetings between the teams, and with our client, to ensure everyone’s on the same page and we’re consistently delivering outstanding quality.

It has also been important to me to proactively reduce the environmental impact of our work. Our team ethos has been to constantly produce more efficient, sustainable designs. I’m proud to say that we’ve saved hundreds of cubic metres of concrete, as well as dramatically improved sustainability facilities around the site office.

Last November you were made a Future Leader to the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). What have you been doing there?

In my role, I’ve been working closely with the ICE’s Policy Team on one of their flagship projects. It’s been an incredible opportunity. I’ve facilitated meetings where some of the leading thinkers in construction have come together to formulate ideas to transform our industry!

You’re passionate about giving back through STEM activities. What stands out for you?

Being part of STEM initiatives has been one of my career highlights. I’ve most enjoyed playing a key role in Pathways to Engineering. Run in partnership with Citizens UK, the programme provides engineering work experience, training and support to young people, helping them to jumpstart engineering careers. I recently had the chance to talk about my work experiences at the IStructE (Institution of Structural Engineers) Young Engineers Conference, and Citizens’ UK Birmingham Commonwealth Games Assembly. I addressed over 850 people and met many young men and women who will now have amazing futures ahead of them!

Besides ‘engineering’ what other key skills have you learned on the Graduate Development Programme?

The programme has really helped me develop my business skills and confidence. Grads are encouraged to get involved in bids and new business. I assisted with a successful step-free access concept design bid for a large rail network. And also worked on a successful multidisciplinary bid for a train station masterplan: I designed structural schematics for pricing and contributed several written sections to the document. More about our Graduate Programme…

This is what Will’s mentor at the business has to say:

“While Will’s drive will see him succeed, he also strives to bring others up with him. He’s well respected by his peers, extremely active in graduate affairs and a great example of how we should be sharing our knowledge and experience. His contribution to my own team has been very important. He has delivered presentations to us on sustainability and manages the dissemination of Health & Safety lessons from CROSS newsletters. His social contributions should also be recognised, this being most clearly demonstrated through his management of the Euston Tower Charity Group.”
– Peter Oates, CEng MICE