Name: Charis Taylor
Degree and university: MEng (Hons) Engineering Science (specialising in Civil and Mechanical) at the University of Oxford
Job title:Civil Engineer
What do you actually do?
I work for Atkins, the official engineering design services provider for the London 2012 Games.
I coordinate and manage the design activities for the Atkins London 2012 team and control the budget. I am working on several competition and non competition venues including Earls Court, ExCeL Centre, Wimbledon, Lords Cricket Ground and North Greenwich Arena.
We are looking at how existing venues will be used to stage international sporting events. This includes power requirements, cabling, seating and catering as well as access, fire and structural elements. I am responsible for communicating our designs to the client team and making sure that they understand the design and cost implications. For example, the ExCel centre is having seating installed to make five separate venues in the exhibition space. We have to ensure that our designs meet the London 2012 Games commitment to sustainability while also being cost efficient.
I spend a lot of time discussing engineering issues with the designers and working out ways to resolve them. I also travel to sites to meet the venue management teams, do surveys and analyse record drawings when they’re available. Some of my venues are very old so getting hold of the plans and working from hand drawings can be challenging.
There are a great number of people involved in this project from all different backgrounds; event organisers, architects, legal people, technical specialists and people from construction and it is my job to interact with them all.
What skills do you need to do that?
Mainly flexibility, determination and patience. London 2012 is a huge group of people so communicating across it requires patience. Communication and listening skills are always important, especially so because of the broad range of people I work with.
How did you know you wanted a career in engineering?
I loved maths and science at school and knew I wanted a career that would combine them. I also enjoy being able to solve problems and engineering is just that. It’s very satisfying to know that what I am designing will one day be built.
What would you like to be doing in ten years time?
I am aiming for Chartership with the Institution of Civil Engineers next year, but after that would like move into management, either managing a large project or managing a team, but still within an engineering context.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I like the variety of my working week and the range of problems and challenges that come up. It is very exciting working on a project which puts London at the focus of the world. We are hoping to change the future of engineering with the work we are doing for the London 2012 Games.
And the worst?
I’m not sure about the worst aspect of my job, but the communication across a project so vast and spread across so many offices is definitely the biggest challenge.
What advice would you give new graduates who want a career in engineering?
Ask questions! People generally love being asked questions and it’s a great way of showing that you’re interested and enthusiastic.
Take an interest in the civil engineering industry as a whole – know what’s being planned and built where. It’s easy to do by reading the news or the engineering magazines.
Be aware of engineering and construction projects around you – when you’re walking past sites, for example.