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Patricia Lourenço Costa

Patricia Lourenço Costa

quality digital insights, and delivery and document control manager, Balfour Beatty

Expertise

Project Management, Construction, Digital

Location

United Kingdom
My highlights

Becoming a Chartered Quality Professional with CQI in 2021

Promoted to quality manager on the deep foundations of HS2 

Becoming a Chartered Engineer with the ICE in 2023 

A day in my life

Every day is different.

My work has a mix of responsibilities.

I could be working from home, working in the office, carrying out site visits and sometimes visiting suppliers or subcontractors, which could take me anywhere in the UK or even abroad.

My primary role revolves around ensuring top-notch quality in everything we construct.

I work mainly with the design and construction teams.

I make special tools (digital apps, training, processes, etc.) to help them do their job in alignment with contracts, standards, and specifications.

But that's not all.

I talk to lots of different people too, like safety experts, environmental specialists, the people who handle the money side of our projects and the ones who give us the materials we need.

The best part of my job is meeting all these different people and working together to make fantastic projects happen.

I also enjoy encouraging younger people to join civil engineering and quality, so being a mentor to others is an important part of what I do daily.

If you're passionate about shaping the world, making it safer, more efficient, and greener, civil engineering is perfect for you.

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

When I was trying to decide what to study at university, I was quite indecisive.

My maths teacher suggested I explore engineering because it opens up so many exciting possibilities, including mechanical, electrical, electronic, and civil engineering.

What really tipped the scale towards civil engineering was a TV show I used to watch called Megastructures.

It showcased the most enormous and awe-inspiring structures in the world.

One day, it hit me – if I pursued a career in civil engineering, I could actually be part of the teams that build those incredible megastructures.

That realisation was like a light bulb moment, and from that point on, I chose civil engineering.

It's the field where I could turn my dreams of constructing monumental projects into a reality!

We asked Patricia…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because it offers an incredible variety of projects and roles.

You could design majestic bridges one day, work on sustainable energy systems the next or maintaining existing infrastructure after.

Civil engineering spans skyscrapers, airports, eco-friendly transportation, and water purification.

What's great is that civil engineering lets you wear many hats: problem-solver, planner, quality specialist, digital geek, environmental advocate, or budget expert.

The skills you gain open doors to numerous specialties and opportunities to work on projects globally.

So, if you're passionate about shaping the world, making it safer, more efficient, and greener, civil engineering is perfect for you.

It's a field full of opportunities to create a lasting, positive impact on our planet while allowing you to travel and work anywhere your dreams take you.

That's why I recommend a career in civil engineering – it's an adventure waiting to begin, wherever you choose to make it happen!

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…

a hiker, a traveller, a foodie... And I have recently also became a treasurer for my local Coeliac UK group in Glasgow.

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

The variety of tasks and responsibilities, knowing today’s work will be different from yesterday’s and also the friendliness of my colleagues.

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

The variety of roles.

I knew I could work in design and calculations or on a construction site.

I didn’t know I could also work in quality, commercial, project management, health and safety, environment and sustainability…

I also didn’t realise that in civil engineering you can work in so many different areas such as roads, railways, energy, buildings, structures, ports, dams, ground engineering, tunnels, transport planning, etc!

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

There are numerous remarkable projects, so it's very hard to choose just one.

I would’ve loved to be involved in the construction of both Lisbon's iconic bridges, the Ponte 25 de Abril and the Ponte Vasco da Gama.

More recently, I find the construction of the Ponte 516 Arouca incredibly fascinating, and being part of that project would’ve been a dream come true.

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

I'd like to challenge the myth that civil engineering isn't for "you" because it lacks diversity and people who look like "you" aren't represented in this field.

While this might’ve been true in the past and is still an issue at the directorial level in many companies, times are changing.

Today, we see a diverse group of students entering civil engineering and graduates starting jobs from all backgrounds.

I’m looking forward to seeing those people reaching senior levels for an even bigger transformation in the industry.

What motivated you to become professionally qualified? 

Becoming a Chartered Engineer means I can become an expert in this field, and it's not just a personal goal, it's a promise to always do the best job I can.

Being recognised as a Chartered Engineer by the ICE shows that I'm serious about safety, quality, sustainability, and innovation that are crucial to civil engineering.

It also opens up exciting opportunities to lead projects, inspire others, and contribute to solving the big challenges we face in our world, from infrastructure resilience to environmental sustainability.

It's all about being part of a group of engineers who are making the world better, and this qualification helps me do that.

So, what's motivating me is the chance to make a real difference through the world of engineering.

What does being professionally qualified with the ICE mean for your career?  

Being a Chartered Engineer is a significant milestone in my career as an experienced civil engineer.

It represents the culmination of years of hard work and opens up exciting new horizons.

First, it validates my expertise and commitment to excellence in civil engineering.

It's a testament to my ability to deliver high-quality work and adhere to the industry's highest ethical standards, which is crucial for gaining the trust of clients and peers.

This qualification also comes with increased career opportunities.

It positions me for more challenging projects, leadership roles, and the chance to work on cutting-edge solutions to pressing global issues.

It's a ticket to contributing meaningfully to projects that can shape our world's future.

What’s the best thing about being professionally qualified with the ICE? 

It’s the sense of accomplishment and recognition it brings.

It signifies that I've reached a high level of expertise and professionalism in my field, and that's incredibly fulfilling, especially after so many years working for it.

How did the ICE and your employer support you to become professionally qualified? 

The ICE provided a wealth of resources.

This included materials on the process of achieving professional qualification and insightful industry content in the form of articles, video webinars, and podcasts.

These resources were invaluable throughout my years of preparation, especially in the final year leading up to my Chartered Engineer application.

Additionally, my employer, particularly my ICE mentor and line manager, played an instrumental role in my success.

They consistently guided me, highlighting how my experiences aligned with the required attributes for professional qualification.

This reassurance was invaluable because hearing about others' experiences, which might differ from your own, can lead to self-doubt.

Having senior professionals support and encourage me along the way was essential in keeping me on the right path.

What do you value most about being an ICE member? 

Being part of the ICE community connects me with a vast network of experienced professionals.

It offers opportunities to exchange knowledge, collaborate on innovative projects, and continue learning from the best in the field.

How has being a member helped your career? 

The ICE offers a wealth of resources, including publications, webinars, and seminars, which have enabled me to stay up to date with the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices.

Patricia's career path

I finished my master’s degree at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa (ISEL) in Portugal in 2015, specialising in transportation and roads.

I also worked in the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering (LNEC) with a research grant for the ‘plastiroads’ project to study the use of plastic waste in road pavements.

This informed my MSc dissertation.

I then moved to Scotland and joined Balfour Beatty in the Scotland TranServ project to manage and maintain the trunk road network of south-west Scotland.

I started as graduate engineer, and I used my experience to join as a Member of Ordem dos Engenheiros in Portugal.

Shortly after I joined the quality team and I’ve been in this field since then.

When the Scotland TranServ project ended in 2020, I joined the SB3 project, with Balfour Beatty, to build the deep foundations of High Speed 2.

I became chartered with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) and was then promoted to quality manager. In 2023, I became a Chartered Engineer with the ICE.

My current role involves leading a team which includes civil engineering placement students all the way to senior quality advisors as well as document controllers.

We work in digitalisation (transforming paper checklists into digital apps and creating dashboards), quality (innovation, lessons learned, non-conformances, auditing) and document control (transmission of project documentation to the client).

Major projects