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Svetlana Joao

Svetlana Joao

structural engineer, TYPSA


Design, Structural


United Kingdom
My highlights

ICE President's Future Leader 2022-2023 

ICE London Graduate and Student Committee vice-chair of the membership

Work on major project such a HS2.

A day in my life

Each day is different in my life, even though I try to follow my routine to ensure I keep my discipline.

Some days I work in the office, and some work from home. I always try to read a book during my commute to the office.

Currently, I’m working on the detailed design of the West Ruislip Portal (HS2).

When I arrive at the office, I check my emails, and then I carry on with the engineering calculations, or create a 3D model, or write a report.

And as a structural engineer, my task is to analyse the structures and ensure their stability (meaning that the structure is strong enough for the impact of the different types of loads).

I have daily meetings with my structural department team. I also have daily discussions with the BIM modellers because they help me to present the drawings of the design solution once I give them the instructions.

Some days I have coordination meetings with other disciplines, such as landscape, architecture, and drainage.

After work, I walk a little, just to keep myself a bit active.

If I’m not doing that, I’m catching up with some friends, or I’m in some networking event, or I’m helping the out with some social activities.

I'm a civil engineer, a daughter, big sister, friend, and volunteer in social services. 

Who or what inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I was inspired to become a civil engineer when I realised the contribution that I could make to society.

I was born in Angola (Africa), and it’s a developing country.

However, seeing the country's social issues inspired me to become a civil engineer.

In other words, I was inspired not by a specific project but by a lack of good projects at a young age.

When I moved to Europe, I was inspired by the complexity of some construction projects, such as the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon.

It’s the second-longest bridge in Europe and has a fascinating structural design.

We asked Svetlana…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because of our significant impact on society.

Civil engineers build schools, hospitals, housing, roads, bridges, and so on.

We can transform society into a better place for everyone by solving the issues that society is dealing with.

Even more, we can tackle some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our industry.

We have a diversity of choices in civil engineering, such as structural engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, and transportation engineering.

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

Each day as a civil engineer is a new challenge. I always need to keep my mind open to learn something new (which is impressive).

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

I wish I could have worked on a past project that started in 1988 and was completed in 1993 - the Channel Tunnel.

It’s so incredible the complexity of the tunnel. It’s 50.45 km long and made of three separate tunnels running parallel to each other.

One train tunnel running south (UK to France), one train tunnel running north (France to the UK) and one service tunnel.

As a structural engineer, it's fascinating how the tunnel was detailed to overcome some large forces, such as the constant water pressure.

It's also a great project because it promotes a good connection between both countries.

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

The biggest myth is that civil engineering is just for a specific type of person. This is not true at all.

The construction industry is entirely diverse, with different opportunities.

For example, as a civil engineer, you could work in construction, design, project management, and so on.

I believe that each individual has different skills that could contribute, and this is the beauty of having diversity in the industry.

Any personal causes or hobbies?

I like to walk and explore new places.

I like to travel, to read and to go to restaurants and try new foods.

Favourite projects

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel

The Channel Tunnel

Connect the UK to continental Europe with a very long undersea tunnel

Svetlana Joao on site at HS2 West Ruislip Portal

HS2 West Ruislip Portal

Svetlana is working on the detailed design of the West Ruislip Portal (HS2).

Svetlana's career path

I studied my bachelor's in Civil Engineering and masters in Structural Engineering in Lisbon (Portugal).

I did an internship at the National Laboratory of Civil Engineers, where I worked on a project to implement asset management through Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the laboratory.

I moved to London three years ago, and I started to work for TYPSA in the detailed design of the HS2 project.

Major projects

  • HS2 West Ruislip Portal