Graduate geotechnical engineer

"When I was at uni I dreamt about working on High Speed 2 (HS2) and it came true at Atkins."

A secondment with a dream client, and this grad is just getting started

I’m Cathair, a graduate geotechnical engineer at Atkins in the UK. When I work on projects my role is to consider every possibility and likelihood about what’s under the ground to make things safe and cost effective for our clients.

When Atkins was offering geotechnical engineering scholarships, I was between graduating and doing my masters. I immediately applied for a summer placement – three years later, I’m still at Atkins and loving it.

Cathair - Graduate geotechnical engineer

Cathair describes his experiences of working as an intern and a graduate at Atkins.

What did you study at school and university?

I’ve always been inquisitive and like to think outside the box, this led me to study technology, design computing and engineering at school. This led me to study Civil Engineering at an undergraduate level. However I wanted to specialise, but was unsure of which branch to pursue. This was when my dad opened my mind up to geo technical engineering by introducing me to one of his clients, a civil engineer.

I was advised to look into geotechnics, as this area offers varied opportunities throughout the UK, and stable work even in times of recession. It sounded like sound advice, so I immediately put the gears in motion to become a Geotechnical engineer.

What was your summer placement like?

I found myself in one of the offices and got to do actual work in an actual team. It was my first taste of the working world and it really sold me on geotechnical engineering. I also loved the environment at Atkins, the people and projects are really inspiring here. During that first summer I was able to push and challenge my practical understanding of engineering, which provided me with invaluable insight, knowledge, and skills, which proved invaluable during my Masters study.

Now that you’re full time at Atkins, what do you enjoy most about it?

The unique opportunities we’re given and the scale of the projects. When I was at uni I dreamt about working on High Speed 2 (HS2) and it came true at Atkins. Initially I got involved with some earthwork assessments which resulted in a secondment position within HS2 itself! A highlight was helping to deliver the Phase One Ground investigation, the largest ever in the UK. Working at HS2 also gave me a new perspective from a client point of view, which has made me a better engineer.

My other secondment was working at our offices in Bangalore. It was an incredible opportunity to continue to work on my UK projects but alongside my Indian colleagues. The experience exposed me to a new culture, and different way of thinking and tackling problems. I’ve brought back many of the lessons I learned in India, and they’ve really informed my design decisions.I value the variety of roles and the numerous projects I’ve been exposed to at Atkins.

With each new one, I’ve had fresh opportunities to learn and develop skills. On each project I can use the skills I’ve acquired previously, develop them and learn more for future roles. As well as developing as an engineer, I feel I’m also developing as a person.

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