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Serena Gough

Serena Gough

senior urban highways engineer, Arcadis


Highways, Design


West Midlands
My highlights

Awarded an ICE QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship in 2015

Awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Nottingham

Became chair of the ICE West Midlands G&S Committee and the International GSNet group

A day in my life

A day in my life differs depending on whether I'm going to the office or working from home.

When I go to the office, I get up early and commute to Birmingham. I spend the day creating designs or writing reports, while collaborating and speaking with colleagues. After work I either go home or stay after work to socialise with colleagues or friends.

If I work from home, I'm able to get up later. My work is the same, but if I need to speak with colleagues, I chat on Teams or give them a call.

If I'm on site, I'm out in the real world to check up on the things Google Maps can’t show me!

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because it allows you to make positive changes to the world around you and benefit the lives of others.

What inspired you to become a civil engineer?

When I was 15, I completed work experience with my local council in their geotechnical department.

This gave me experience of the civil engineering world and allowed me to learn about their upcoming stabilisation project in Jackfield, near Ironbridge.

Several years later, after finishing sixth form, I completed a summer placement with the civil engineering consultant on the project, experiencing many elements of the profession, including highways, structures, traffic and on-site geotechnical work.

I enjoyed this experience and thus pursued civil engineering as a career.

Serena by Ironbridge in Shropshire, England.
Serena by Ironbridge in Shropshire, England.

We asked Serena…

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

A STEM ambassador, helping to inspire the next generation to study civil engineering.

In 2020, I was recognised by the ICE as highly commended in the STEM Ambassador of the Year Award in the West Midlands.

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

I love having the ability to change the world around me.

What’s the most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego?

As a child, I used to create little villages on my living room floor, with roads and communities.

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

I love that I can have an impact on the world and that the designs I create can be built and then used by thousands of people!

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

Whenever I say I design roads to someone, they immediately assume that the only thing to do is fill potholes! I want to dispel the myth that roads are just built, with no design or planning.

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal or professional challenges/difficulties?

As the first in my family to attend university, and having a disabled father, I've had to work hard to succeed. It has taken determination and drive, but the experience now gives me the confidence to achieve anything I want.

What are you doing to help fight against climate change?

As an urban highways engineer, I'm designing road schemes which promote the use of active travel modes, such as walking and cycling, and therefore decreasing the use of private vehicles.

Through my designs, I aim to make the experience for all road users the very best it can be.

Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy walks in the countryside and visiting new places. I love to explore, even if it’s just a part of my local area I have never been to before. I also enjoy photography.

In my third year of university, I studied abroad at the University of Arizona.

Read my blog

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

I wish I could have worked to design the new town of Telford, as it’s local to me. I visit it often.

It’s named after Thomas Telford, the first president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Serena's career path

I studied A-level maths, further maths, physics and geography at Newport Girls’ High School with an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on a civil engineering topic.

I then went on to study a MEng in Civil Engineering at the University of Nottingham, graduating with a first-class honours degree in 2019. For my third year I studied abroad at the University of Arizona in the USA.

In September, after my graduation, I joined AECOM as a graduate engineer and progressed to highways and traffic engineer around a year and a half later.

In April 2023, I joined Arcadis as a senior engineer in its urban highways team in Birmingham.

Major projects

  • Construction stage - Bucknall New Road Corridor Improvements, Stoke-on-Trent.
  • Design stage – Woodstock and Banbury Road Improvements, Oxford.
  • Other elements of designing, report writing, and producing cost estimates for smaller schemes.