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Dylan Atkinson

Dylan Atkinson

Advanced engineering technician, Capita Real Estates and Infrastructure




United Kingdom
My highlights

Becoming the youngest person to achieve ICE EngTech at Capita

Being awarded with an ICE QUEST Plus scholarship and becoming a STEM Ambassador

Being shortlisted for the ‘Rising Star’ award for the BIM Show Live 2020 Awards

How I became a civil engineer

I joined Capita on a civil engineering apprenticeship after a week’s work experience placement when when I was 17.

I left sixth form a year early to start moving forward in establishing my career.

After being in school all my life, I was definitely ready for a change in environment.

With assistance from my employer, I'm currently studying for my degree in civil engineering part-time at Liverpool John Moores University.

I had very little knowledge of civil engineering when I first started working.

Despite this, being surrounded with experienced engineers who want to help, support from ICE, together with my own curiosity, I've already come a long way in such a short time.

I believe that to move forward in our industry, or any part of life for that matter, we have to get better at collaborating and speaking with each other.

A typical day in your life

A typical day for me involves problem solving.

This could be identifying new, or addressing existing problems within the design of major highway works.

I then use tools such as 3D design software and visual programming to either design a 3D model or to streamline an existing design process.

I like to challenge the existing way we do things and ask myself if there's a better way of doing the same job.

For example, I was given the task of modelling the existing utilities for the Carlisle Southern Link Road which included high pressure gas mains, fibre optics and major water pipelines.

I came up with a way to standardise utilities design in 3D and embed the production of 2D drawings within this.

We asked Dylan…

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust.

That it’s boring!

Of course, there are boring elements to whatever you do in life but, believe me, in civil engineering the exciting problems and new challenges far outweigh the boring and mundane.

Civil engineering is in the middle of a digital transformation so it's one of the most exciting times to get into the industry.

I'm already seeing a shift in the way we work. I'm eager to see, and to be a part of, the way we're going to be designing / working in a fully digital industry.

Which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

I think the first time I saw the Jewel Changi airport in Singapore, I didn't believe it had been constructed.

Initially, when I first saw all the trees in the airport, I was sceptical.

Then, it made me think about different ways to try and address various issues so that now I think of it as a symbol of the attitude we should have when we're rethinking an environment.

What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

I don’t think you can quite grasp how many things are going on in a major civil engineering project until you experience the process for yourself.

There are so many elements and so much happening at any one time on a project.

In my short career, I've not even scratched the surface in terms of seeing all the potential roles within the civil engineering profession.

The variety is unbelievable. There are so many different ways to pursue a career in civil engineering.

I’m a civil engineer but I’m also…

A challenger. I don’t mean that in a difficult way, but I like to ask ‘why’.

I like to challenge existing process and try to find a way to do things better.

I like to try and spot innovative ways of completing tasks and share any success I have with my colleagues.

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I was inspired by a number of people and projects, not just one thing.

My initial work experience placement with Capita in 2016 was a definite springboard and from that start, I haven't looked back!

As I've continued to work within civil engineering, I've looked at the career of Brunel and am always amazed how the engineers of that time achieved what they did with the tools they had.

It’s even more inspiring to realise that many of their principles still apply today.

Something that is currently inspiring me is the digital twin concept, which I believe is the new way of working in a digitally enabled generation. Much like they are working towards in Shanghai.

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

I loved Lego when I was younger.

I used to make little Lego cities in my bedroom and create stories in them. Nothing compared to the size of the replicas in Legoland, but big enough for my imagination.

Star Wars was my favourite and I built a Star Destroyer. Admittedly, this was completed with an adult!

Thinking about it, it’s probably the reason I like civil engineering so much, although that’s not to say that if you don't like Lego you won’t like civil engineering.

However, for me, the process of following an initial idea, developing it and seeing it through to the final product is so rewarding and very similar to civil engineering.

I'd recommend a career in civil engineering because…

I read something in a book (by Mark Manson) that said there are always going to be problems in life, you just need to find the good problems worth fixing.

For me, civil engineering is definitely full of those good problems which I am always keen to try and solve.

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

The Kenya-Uganda railway (or sometimes called the Lunatic Express).

It was the original railway across Kenya from Mombasa to Uganda, famous for the man-eating lions of Tsavo.

Create Canada’s first intercontinental railway

Canadian Pacific Railway

Create Canada’s first intercontinental railway

The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture designed by Antony Gormley and located in north east England.

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture designed by Antony Gormley and located in north east England.

The Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.