My Week at Curtins: Samantha Gibson

Samantha, a sixth form pupil at Wirral Grammar School for Girls, has spent the last week with engineers, technicians and support staff in our Liverpool Headquarters as part of her work experience and discusses her time with us in our latest blog…

“The expanse of disciplines within engineering can be daunting and can become even more so when the pressure of further education applications is looming over you. This is why the opportunity of doing work experience with a company like Curtins was so valuable as an aspiring engineer in order to determine what career path I wanted to take.  From using a range of different computer programs, such as Tekla and REVIT, to visiting construction sites; the experience that Curtins provided me with has given me an essential insight into both the world of work and the role structural engineers play in fabricating the built environment. Throughout my 5-day placement, I was shown through the critical stages of development from transport planning to the final construction site, and it became evident how and why Curtins has managed to sustain such a good reputation as a business and an engineering consultancy alike.

On my first day, I met Curtins’ Learning & Development Manager Rebecca King,who introduced me to members of the central team based in Liverpool. It was clear from the start the way in which Curtins strives to encourage the development of young engineers, which made me feel more confident in asking any questions I had. I was then introduced to engineers Ciaran and Laura who provided me with a more in-depth history of the company and I was assigned the task of using the ‘Blue Book’ and some printed 3D models to work out the load weightings that caused the bending moment and shear forces on different beams. Following this I was set an assignment to work backwards and create the structure using Tekla to compare my hand calculations to the virtual model. The challenge of using the software was something that I enjoyed, even if I did need some help in ensuring the analysis matched my calculations!

I also was shown by Owen, an apprentice technician, the way in which engineers can communicate with architects and construction workers through the use of AutoCAD, looking specifically at concrete slabs in a recent project. Later, I saw the development of this technology by sitting with Sophie, another technician, who showed me how this progressed into a REVIT model where a 2D design can be created in 3D with different sectional views of the structure.

It became clear to me the ever-developing influence the company had on the skyline of the city through a presentation I was given by Brendan, an Associate Structural Engineer, who showed me some of the most recent projects that the company had worked on. It was then when I realised just how integral the role of a structural engineer is to the development of major cities such as Liverpool.

During my week at Curtins I was able to explore other engineering specialisms such as transport planning and I was also given the opportunity to sit with Curtins’ Marketing department and see how they contribute to the company’s success – through publicising projects & awards won through the company’s website, brochures and social media platforms.

As part of my placement, I was taken along to the site of a former nunnery in West Derby. Merseyside charity Claire House have started the task of raising funds to develop the nunnery into a new children’s hospice and whilst here, I was taught some surveying techniques by Laura and Sophie using plumb bobs.

I was also given the opportunity to visit a construction site with engineers Ciaran and Simon, located on the new residential development at Edge Lane. It was most interesting to see how different types of foundation can be utilised to distribute the load from the building and the way in which these can be fabricated on site.

The experience I had with Curtins is one that has reinforced my decision to become an engineer, and I am grateful for the time the team in Liverpool had put in to provide me with a thoroughly informative and enjoyable placement. Thank you!”