Institution of Civil Engineers: Toby Crawley

Institution of Civil Engineers: Toby Crawley

Toby Crawley is a civil engineering degree apprentice at Siemens, studying at Wiltshire College. Toby is the winner of the New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year Award 2019


How did you become a civil engineer?

A BTEC level 3 extended diploma in construction and the built environment; civil engineering course was being launched at a college near me in Chippenham. I jumped at the opportunity to move over and take my A-Level equivalents in the subject I was passionate about.

In the final few months of this course Siemens Rail Infrastructure visited the college to discuss the potential for an apprentice position at the company. After completing this course at DDD* (triple distinction) grade, I was invited for interview at Siemens and secured the position.

Siemens are sponsoring me to a level 6 standard, my progression is through an HNC and HND in civil engineering with a final year `top-up` to BEng.

If you love understanding how things work and why they are done in a certain way, civil engineering is a great career choice.


What is a typical day like?

A typical day for me is a busy one, running about getting set out tasks to complete, formwork checked and queries resolved.

A typical weekend shift would include installing signalling gantries. This first starts with the driving of four piles, two either side of the railway. I set these to the design offset from rail. Then we install a pile cap, again checked for position by me from rail. The stanchions are then lifted into place by a crane, followed by the boom.

Once I am happy these are in the right place, the signals can be installed. These are installed relative to the rail level and have tight tolerances to ensure they do not `foul gauge` and get hit by a train when in use. I direct these into the required position and sign a form to declare the gantry `fit for traffic`.


What support do you get to develop?

My mentor is a practising civil engineer who is always happy to answer any queries I have and is keen to push me to my full potential. He understands my desire to get hands-on and deliver projects, and so helped secure me a junior site engineer role on a re-signalling project between London and Corby. Here I worked under the site engineer (SE) and quickly picked up on various setting out and survey techniques, as well as the paper trail process we had to provide.

I worked with the SE for several months until he felt I was competent enough to carry out the work without his direct supervision. He is a great tutor who is keen to pass on his years of experience in construction generally, not just in rail, and is always willing to explain things in a way that I understand.

Together, my mentors have opened the door for me for progression into the emerging BIM team at Siemens.


What about being a civil engineer apprentice gets you out of bed each morning?

The variety of my work. No two days are ever the same and I always learn something new. It’s a myth that all civil engineers do is build bridges and highways!


What would you say to anyone considering a civil engineering apprenticeship?

I decided an apprenticeship was the right route for me early on in my secondary school career. I knew that I wanted to be a civil engineer and I was chomping at the bit to get out of school to put my hands to use and practice in the role.

The apprentice role lets you start at the ground, working upwards to learn about the industry and other invaluable skills you hadn’t considered, putting you ahead of those studying at a university by becoming a well-rounded engineer. The hands-on approach is by far the best way to understand and appreciate the learning undertaken in the classroom.

I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone. You gain the same book knowledge as a university student by studying and working but have the massive benefits of having a job, being able to do the work rather than just knowing the process, and networking with different disciplines to make you a rounded engineer rather than a single discipline engineer.


To find out more about civil engineering apprenticeships, visit