Work experience review by Sam North

In June, Sam North, a year 12 student from Greenhead College in Huddersfield, joined our team in Leeds for a week’s work experience. Here’s his summary of what he got up to, and his recommendation for other students looking for work experience opportunities:

“My work experience was based at Curtins in the Leeds office. They have 14 offices throughout the UK and Ireland and 7 main specialisms, they employ over 400 staff throughout these offices. From this placement I hoped to find out if civil engineering was something I really wanted to do in the future and to discover the different kinds of paths to become a Civil Engineer.

On Monday, I worked in the structures department. I was given a fully detailed introduction to Tekla, which is what they use for structural modelling. After the introduction to Tekla I was given the task to structurally build a two storey building. I learned skills to input construction levels in to the design, also inserting grids, columns, beams, slabs, outside walls and bracing. I also had to add loads to each storey of the building. I added the dead load, which is the weight of the original building, and the live load, which is when the building is fully in use.

On Tuesday, I moved onto the civils and infrastructure department. I was given a detailed introduction about AutoCAD Civils 3D. I was also shown various current projects happening in the office, for example Strawberry Place, Newcastle. In the afternoon I was given a housing project based in Doncaster where my task was to plan out the drainage and decide the best paths of where the foul and surface water must flow. Once I had finished the drainage I was told positives of my plan and also how to improve the plan more to make it fully efficient. I learnt a lot of valuable skills doing this task. Afterwards, I had to work out the diameter of the foul and surface water pipes which gave me an introduction to the maths involved in civil engineering.

On Wednesday morning I was given an introduction to Revit 3D modelling, where I learned the basics of Revit and how it’s used to give a fully detailed model of the structural engineer’s plans. This enables construction workers to have a fully detailed plan of what they need to build. I was given a step by step model to construct a house on Revit.

On Thursday I was with the environmental team – they introduced me to a site in Leeds which is a proposed service station. This site was complicated because there was complex mine shafts located in a lot of places around the site. Also there is an old train tunnel 30 metres below the site. My job was to colour code on the plan of the site which areas were coal, broken ground or a void. Afterwards I did the the same for grouting where I had to mark how much grout was placed in each hole in the site area.

On Friday morning I had the opportunity to observe a meeting with Leeds city council about this site. This was very useful as it enabled me to experience how a formal meeting takes place.

In the afternoon I had my end of week summary. We reviewed my performance throughout the week. I also reviewed how my week went which I really enjoyed. This chat was very useful as it enabled me to ask questions about Curtins and the opportunities they offer after college and the different paths available to become a civil engineer. I enjoyed everything about the week. All the staff were welcoming and willing to talk proudly about what job they do at the office. I particularly found the civil engineering part to be my favourite part of the week.

I would like to say a massive thank you for the opportunity for my week at Curtins and a massive thank you to my work guide and everyone who helped me out throughout my week.”