‘Almost everyone is reliant on civil engineering’
Edward Chaplin is a digital engineer apprentice, studying for a BTEC and NVQ qualification at the National College for Nuclear. He is working for Bylor JV – Laing O’Rourke on Hinkley Point C through his apprenticeship
Why did you choose an apprenticeship in civil engineering?
After my A-Levels, I planned to study chemistry at university, but instead I took a gap year, did some travelling and took some time out.
I was itching to get experience and start my career, rather than go back into full-time education. I started looking for apprenticeships that would lead to an interesting career and recognised the possibilities within civil engineering.
I was looking for a career where I would be mentally challenged and have a good balance of practical and theoretical work. Civil engineering jumped out as the best fit, and as I can see Hinkley Point C from where I live, everything else fell into place after I decided it was what I was going to do.
Would you recommend a career in civil engineering?
Yes! Civil engineering is an exciting area of work. If you want to travel while earning and furthering your career prospects, there are major civil engineering projects all over the world that enable you to do this. The projects are always different, and as each progresses there will be new exciting challenges.
I am looking forward to the many places that civil engineering will take me.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I work in digital engineering and most of the day I am at my desk using 3D modelling software and programming to create innovative solutions to problems. I output detailed technical models and tools with detailed method statements that can be used to automate tasks in digital engineering.
I often meet with site engineers or colleagues, discussing requirements and gathering the information I need, or explaining my work output when handing it over to them.
What have you learnt about civil engineering since you started working in the industry?
I had never thought about how reliant humans are on civil engineering. Where there are humans, there are people building civil engineering structures such as bridges, dams, roads and so on. Once you start to think about what civil engineering includes you realise how almost everyone is reliant on civil engineering.
I am interested in where civil engineering will take us in future. If humans look towards colonising other planets, civil engineers will be tested on their inventiveness to create structures that can be transported compact and lightweight, and then erected on another planet.
Civil engineers will also be expected to build structures to protect civilisation from global warming, rising sea levels and changing weather, as well as providing reliable energy sources.
What have been the highlights of your apprenticeship?
I am working on Hinkley Point C where I started my apprenticeship. The site has changed so much since I joined in 2018, I’m always excited to see the progression.
On site I am encouraged to learn as much as I can–my mentor encouraged me to learn how to use software that isn’t widely used on site. I now teach others on the uses of this software, giving presentations to groups of over 50 people sharing what I have learnt.
I believe this led to another highlight of my career so far which is getting awarded a QUEST Scholarship by the Institution of Civil Engineers. The scholarship gave me further opportunities to progress my learning and speak to people about civil engineering, plus greater fulfilment in my role.
What else are you doing to further your development as a civil engineer?
Alongside my apprenticeship I am currently working towards achieving my engineering technician (EngTech MICE) status with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). EngTech MICE is a globally recognised qualification that will show my skills and experience to employers, it is also a first step with ICE on the path towards becoming a chartered engineer (CEng MICE). To achieve this goal, I have been receiving support from my employer and ICE with regular guidance meetings. I also plan, with the support of my company, to undertake a degree alongside working to give me the qualifications needed to become a chartered engineer.
To find out more about civil engineering apprenticeships, visit ice.org.uk/future#apprenticeships