Ruth Watson

Ruth Watson

Civil engineer apprentice

Country United Kingdom

Specialisms Design, water

Career highlights

My working day

It’s very hard to describe my day-to-day life, as no two days are the same.

My day consists of multiple job roles and tasks, including project management, planning, detailed design and coordination.

Every day, I coordinate my project, develop notional solutions to the client’s business risks, while considering commercial aspects of the project and ensuring that my milestones are met.

My career inspiration

There wasn’t one particular project or person that inspired me to become a civil engineer. It was a multiple different events and situations I experienced where civil engineering caught my eye.

I really enjoyed problem-solving therefore a career as an engineer suited me. I was drawn to civil engineering due to the ability to work on site or in an office.

I love the way that civil engineering is so broad, and it was exciting to think I could work in any of the sectors.

Ruth accepting her QUEST scholarship

Ruth accepting her QUEST scholarship

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I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also... A planner, project manager, designer and a creator of innovative solutions to complex problems.

Ruth Watson

Civil engineer apprentice

What I love about being a civil engineer

It’s not just one job role. I didn’t know civil engineering was so broad. There are so many different sectors and opportunities.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of the water sector and I still have so much more to learn. Outlining what a civil engineer does on a day to day basis is very hard to describe. This is because being a civil engineer involves aspects of detailed design, calculations, planning, project management and more.

The challenge that civil engineering has helped me overcome

I have dyslexia and therefore writing reports and documents was always a challenge for me.

However, being an apprentice has enabled me to develop my writing skills and now I can write reports with ease.

This has also boosted my confidence in my written work and I’m very fortunate to have the support from my work and my college (Leeds College of Building).

The civil engineering myth I’d like to bust

Is that civil engineers must be good at maths. Yes, maths is a key aspect of civil engineering, but there’s so much more to it.

Rather than hardcore maths, it’s more problem-solving. How are we going to make this structure work? What components can we use to make this more sustainable? How will this impact the environment?

I’d recommend a career in civil engineering because

There is always a need for a civil engineer.

Civil engineering is so broad as it contains so many different aspects. It therefore always poses something new to consider and learn from.

The environment is constantly changing and therefore solutions and structures are constantly adapting.

As a civil engineer, you’re able to use problem-solving to create something that will last for the future.

The project, past or present, I wish I'd worked on

An engineering project that I would have loved to have worked on is the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam is a concrete arch gravity dam in the Colorado River in America.

The hydroelectric power generated from the 221m-high dam provides power for three states. I think it’s incredible that this structure was created in the 1930s without any of the modern technology we use today to design and construct structures today.

What gets me out of bed every morning?

The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that the work I do makes a difference to people’s lives.

I can improve our environment by designing and creating more efficient, safe, sustainable structures which will last for years to come.

My favourite projects

Through a carbon-web portal that my company has designed, I was able to show that in one reservoir alone we saved 700 tons of carbon emissions by using a new innovative optical fibre seepage monitoring technique on the earth embankment dam at Digley Reservoir.

Education

I completed my A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry.

Considering the way I learn and my dyslexia, I decided to investigate apprenticeships.

I found that I was drawn to a civil engineering apprenticeships and applied. I’ve now been in the apprenticeship scheme for a year and a half, currently studying my HND (Higher National Diploma) for one more year before I do my top-up year at university to achieve my degree.

Hobbies

I’m passionate about apprenticeships, do I’m a student ambassador for my college. This involves going into schools and attending careers fairs to show students there are other ways into higher education, encouraging them to look at the different routes and find what’s most suitable for them.

During my A-levels I didn’t know degree apprenticeships existed and I would’ve loved to hear about them.

While the industry promotes and encourages female engineers, we’re still in the minority, therefore, I enjoy speaking to students about my journey in the industry.

The most complex thing I’ve made out of Lego

I am really interested in American Football and I support the San Francisco 49ers.

Last year I built a Lego replica of my team’s helmet. This was made out of tiny pieces of Lego and was a lot harder than I expected. Overall it took me about a month to finally complete the helmet, before I used spray-on glue to fix it together (just in case I ever dropped it!)

I want to become a civil engineer.

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