Atkins’ grads start their careers in the fast lane
Katie Baines | Civil Engineer, Infrastructure
18 April 2019
Katie Baines joined Atkins in 2015. Since then she’s been putting her hand up for every opportunity, gaining incredible skills and experience on challenging work. In just three years she shaped herself into a rounded civil engineer. In this blog she tells us about her most exciting graduate projects.
How I spent my days when I started out
When I joined Atkins I had a general idea of what to expect. But I didn’t think I’d be able to actually start working as an engineer quite as soon as I did. My career pretty much started on my first day. I was put onto a diverse team made up of people at varying career stages and from different disciplines. We even had a top company decision maker as a fellow team member – which I soon discovered is just the norm at Atkins. I was given a role on a project right away along with plenty of responsibility.
During my first week it struck me that no day would ever be the same again. It was wonderful. Everything we do is collaborative – so I soon started meeting people in other fields who were involved in their own exciting work. From there opportunities started to open up for me. I was able to gain some broad experience on projects from water to education and nuclear. I’ve also worked onsite and seconded at clients’ offices.
Here are some of the projects I’ve worked on in my three years at the Atkins business:
A high-profile London school development
I jumped at the opportunity to work on this school in one of the largest mixed use schemes in London. In my role I liaised with other disciplines on pavement, drainage and utility design. I became pretty good at carrying out project processes such as quality management and risk management. This led to me joining the team that supports other graduates who were learning about processes within the business.
Relocation facilities at the UK’s newest nuclear power station
This was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain experience in project, commercial and programme management. In my role I regularly liaised with the client throughout the design process to ensure we fully understood their requirements. I also challenged the client on alternative solutions that were more effective, safer, sustainable or cheaper. I was extremely proud of what I delivered – Atkins won the subsequent design work and I was asked to remain on the delivery team. I furthered my technical development by designing carparks, junctions, pavements, utilities, drainage and even a helipad!
Projects for the largest alliance in the water sector
I managed a stream of design works across our client’s three locations. This developed me even further as an engineer. I gained experience in an array of technical fields including hydraulics, heavy civils, steel frame and foundation design.
On the first site, I collaborated with the client, site operatives and suppliers enabling us to promote innovative retrofitted solutions. At the second site, I helped the client define their scope so that we met both their and the local community’s needs. At the third site I engaged with the digital team to conduct laser scanning and a topographic drone survey. I also gained experience on the bidding process for prospective projects at an additional site.
I spent a year working at the same client’s office on secondment. This helped to give us an appreciation of their governance process. My role within their team was project management, behavioural change implementation and technical guidance. To help streamline the workflow, I set up a knowledge sharing hub and a bank of other digital tools. These supported activities such as the production control supply chain and early engagement with operations and contractors.
New generation nuclear power station
I was extremely excited to be working on this high profile project! It enabled me to develop and challenge my skills in heavy civils and seismic design. Collaborating with our client and contractors, I made sure that we were delivering something that all stakeholders would buy into. My role entailed managing several design teams including our Global Design Centre in India using the latest digital tools. Continuous collaboration throughout the design phase resulted in the special reinforced detailing of the structures, which has minimised residual risk.
At Atkins you CAN advance your career quickly
Atkins is a friendly environment where employees are super supportive and love seeing others succeed. I enjoy being part of this by helping and sharing knowledge with younger graduate and apprentice engineers. I always encourage them to just dive into the wider Atkins community and get to know people and their projects. If you’re curious and excited about what a colleague is doing they’ll find a way to get you involved. All you need to do is say, “Yes!” And jump in with both feet!