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The young engineers with winning careers
Every year we sponsor the Transport for London (TfL) Graduate Awards, an event celebrating the abilities and achievements of the graduate engineers on the TfL Civil Engineering Training Scheme. In an industry which is suffering the effects of an ageing workforce and struggling to maintain a talent pipeline, it is all the more important to celebrate the good work that young engineers are achieving and promote the profession to inspire the next generation of engineers.
We caught up with two of the winners, Raphael Lorgere (winner of the first prize) and Avantika Raj (winner of the Best First Year Report) to hear what inspired them to pursue a career in engineering and how they would inspire more younger people into this field of work.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
Raphael: My mother convinced me to pursue engineering because her father was a prominent civil engineer and inventor back in France and I had the right background in science and business. I chose civil engineering halfway through my degree because I think as civil engineers we provide structures to help people and improve their lives. I think my grandfathers would agree with me, although we took completely different journeys.
Avantika: I participated in a small project in my first year at university on the importance of infrastructure and how it can change people’s lives economically and socially. When I realised the impact that engineers have on the society on a daily basis, it inspired me to pursue a career in civil engineering.
Raphael Lorgere wins first prize on the evening.
What are your future aspirations?
Raphael: I aspire to write three more world class placement reports! Within TfL, there are still many teams which I would like to work with and find out what I could bring to them before launching my career at the end of the graduate scheme. Ideally, I will be in a role where I can use my knowledge of business and languages as well as technical skills.
Avantika: Currently, I am very eager to get back to university and finish my studies. This year has only reinforced my ambition to become a civil engineer. I am also very eager to continue with my Sciene, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities, so as to inspire other girls to join the engineering industry.
Please give us an overview of the project you entered for the competition. What aspects are you most proud of? What were the challenges?
Raphael: I actually worked on a variety of tasks; I worked as a quantity surveyor, estimator and to some extent site engineer on better junctions projects. I also helped out in the Silvertown Tunnel commercial team. As you can see, I was a busy man, so my main challenge was organising my time to meet deadlines and challenges in all those projects. I'd like to thank the people who inspired me to get involved in all these different jobs. I'm proud of how I was able to bring across skills and experience from the different projects and reflect on it concisely in my report.
Avantika: The Bank Station Capacity Upgrade is a modernisation of the existing Bank station to improve passenger flow within the station, provide step free access and increase the station’s capacity. This will be achieved through the installation of a new Entrance at Cannon Street, new Northern Line Southbound Tunnel, a moving walkway and additional lifts and escalators. The project is quite fast paced. It is also set in a very busy part of the city; hence, constant communication with all businesses and infrastructure owners is necessary. Nonetheless, due to the collaboration between TfL, Dragados and the various subcontractors, we are able to keep the project moving and overtake any obstacle we come across.
Avantika Raj wins the prize for the Best First Year Report.
What new engineering skills have you developed during the past year?
Raphael: In the past year, I've worked with surface transport and London Underground, sometimes both at the same time depending on my graduate placement. As a result, I'm much more aware of how the challenges I face are part of a much bigger picture with a variety of stakeholder influences. This has sharpened my understanding of the political and economic side of projects, which is vital in influencing the engineering aspects of the project.
Avantika: This year, I have been exposed to the New Austrian Tunnelling Method and tunnelling in general. I have also learnt a lot about methods in which we monitor existing London Underground assets, buildings and utilities. This year has also been invaluable as it helped me improve my organisational and communication skills.
Given the current drive for more young people to study STEM subjects to support the growing engineering skills gap, how would you inspire today’s young people to enter the industry?
Raphael: From what I've seen at multiple STEM events, professional engineers are pretty good at appealing to pupils in classes. However I think children need to be shown the importance of business skills and report writing.
Avantika: TfL has always encouraged engineering graduates to become STEM ambassadors and also participate in STEM events. I believe this is essential as it provides an opportunity for children to understand what being an engineer actually means. I have participated both as a STEM ambassador and will be participating in the Smallpiece event at Warwick to help inspire young people.
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