‘The prospects for civil engineers are so extensive’
Dimple Parmar is a site engineer apprentice at Laing O’Rourke, studying civil engineering site management at the University of Exeter
Dimple has already achieved engineering technician (EngTech MICE) professional qualification with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) as part of her apprenticeship and is working towards becoming an incorporated engineer with ICE (IEng MICE). Dimple was awarded the NCE Degree Apprentice of the Year 2021.
Why did you choose a degree apprenticeship?
I received offers from really good universities and had never really considered an apprenticeship. Studying and getting a degree was very important to me.
But when I came across a degree apprenticeship, which meant I could get a degree from a Russell Group university as well as gain experience, it was hard to justify going to university as a full-time student. I knew I always had the option to go to university if all went horribly wrong, but I never looked back!
What have been the highlights of your apprenticeship?
Looking at where I am and thinking “if I didn’t take this opportunity, I wouldn’t have all this practical knowledge that I do now. I wouldn’t have the network that I’m already building, and I certainly wouldn’t have the experience,” and so much more.
It’s the fact that I can gain this experience as an engineer, but also be a university student alongside it while I get my degree. I’m able to spend two weeks on campus in Exeter and experience “uni life”, go to lectures and go out with friends from my course. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
What is a typical day like?
Every day is different from the next, being a site engineer.
The balance between being on site and in the office varies, especially with the project I’m currently working on where it’s weather dependent.
On site, I need to ensure that everything is ready to go for a productive and smooth day ahead. This includes setting out (translating design to physical space), carrying out quality checks, looking out for all things health, safety and environmental, and liaising with suppliers and the different teams.
In the office, I need to prepare for upcoming works by writing methods and procedures, reading drawings, researching and ensuring materials are “cubed up” and ordered in. I also need to ensure that all records are up to date.
It’s important in both the site and office environment to ensure everything is accounted for, as small hiccups can have knock-on effects in production.
I love knowing that each day comes with a new challenge. I’ve never had two days that look the same, tackling the challenges and taking on opportunities for development that come to me each day gets me out of bed every morning!
What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?
How much engineers are involved in all aspects of projects.
Being an engineer is more than maths and setting out on site, it’s working with other disciplines to bring a project together and to ensure it runs smoothly. It’s liaising with the health and safety function, commercial function, planning function, quality function, environmental function, and so on, to get a holistic view and incorporate all the aspects to produce your best work.
What would you say to anyone considering a civil engineering apprenticeship?
Go for it because there’s really nothing to lose. The prospects for civil engineers are so extensive that there’s something for everyone—people who like to be outdoors a lot, like problem solving, like maths, and even for those who hate maths.
I think that the skills you develop as a civil engineer, particularly on the job, prepare you to be resilient and hard working, which is highly regarded in any industry.
To find out more about civil engineering apprenticeships, visit ice.org.uk/future#apprenticeships