Blake Alfreds

Mechanical Engineer

"The Brighton office is full of wonderful and talented people who provide me, as a graduate, plenty of chances to learn from a wide range of expertise."

Why did you choose Mott MacDonald?

Mott MacDonald offered a wide range of engineering opportunities, with a great potential for travelling and becoming a chartered engineer in a large diverse consultancy firm. After studying at the University of Sussex and having a keen interest in renewable energy sources, the local office also allowed me to stay and live in my home town of Brighton, these combined factors made it a no brainer.

What did your family and friends think?

My friends and family were delighted that I got a position in the Mott MacDonald Brighton office working for the hydro team as this was exactly the type of challenge I was seeking. I think they were proud of what I achieved by getting the job and are excited to see how myself and Mott MacDonald will grow together throughout my career.

What’s your graduate scheme like?

The hydro team has kept me very busy (which is great), this has meant that maybe I haven’t spent as much time on my graduate responsibilities, however the two courses I have attended through the Mott MacDonald Academy have been very informative and fun. They have provided me with the opportunity to learn more about Mott MacDonald and network with other graduates.

What was it like to start formal employment after many years at university?

I actually worked almost completely throughout my studies at university and did not go to university straight from school. I had a few years between school and starting at Mott MacDonald where I gained professional experience in a variety of different roles. However, when starting with Mott MacDonald I was amazed by how professional and friendly the company is both internally and externally. The opportunities that are available to a graduate here at Mott MacDonald are incredible and I look forward to taking full advantage of them over the next few years.

What’s the best thing about working at Mott MacDonald?

The people and the work. The Brighton office is full of wonderful and talented people who provide me, as a graduate, plenty of chances to learn from a wide range of expertise. The work is both challenging and interesting which I can fully appreciate as some of my previous jobs have not been.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved in?

Probably the Muchinga HPP. Muchinga HPP is a hydropower project in Zambia which is at a prefeasibility stage. I have been involved in the power and energy modelling of the initial designs of the scheme to analyse the different options that could be adopted and eventually implemented. If the project goes ahead then there is a real chance to gain experience on a large Hydropower project from a very early stage through to its detailed design, construction and commissioning.

What are you most proud of?

  • Being part of the Devoll HPP site team in Albania for over three months was a challenge that allowed me to gain site experience. The project was under extreme pressures to be completed on time for impounding (filling) the reservoir. The two main contractors' relationship and communication was poor and during my time off site I contributed to the project getting back on schedule and improved the contractors' relationship.
  • Muchinga HPP developing a programme to analyse the effect of a change in operation from a peaking scheme to a firm energy scheme.
  • Developing the in-house hydro electrical and mechanical cost database

What support did you get whilst you were working towards your professional qualification?

My mentor Ed Sidgwick has been very helpful with my IMechE chartership process as he has been through the same programme.  I have also found the Mott MacDonald Academy to be extremely helpful.

What’s the Mott MacDonald Academy about?

The Mott MacDonald Academy allows graduates to develop their knowledge, project management skills, networking and understanding of Mott MacDonald, whilst providing training of key skills and tools that will be needed to develop into a professional engineer. The Mott MacDonald Academy has been useful to gain vital knowledge about how Mott MacDonald runs as a business and to understand the direction it is looking to go in.

What would you say to someone thinking of applying?

Just do it. And all of the above.

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