"I joined Atkins in April 2008 as part of the tunnel ventilation and fire life safety team, and after celebrating my five-year anniversary with the company, I am ready for the future challenges to come! I joined Atkins as an assistant mechanical engineer after successfully completing my masters in engineering and management at Nottingham University. I quickly found myself working in a highly skilled, highly recognised and a very reputed organisation alongside a group of very talented, supportive and friendly engineers unique to this part of the business.
A few weeks after joining the company, I got involved with the ‘Cooling the Tube’ programme for the London Underground Victoria line – a project set up to improve thermal conditions through ventilation analysis, to investigate the impact of the line upgrade and to evaluate the prospective temperature benefits of proposed mitigation measures. I started working on parametric simulations with the SES 1D model of a network of 16 stations (approximately 20km of line tunnels). This was a great opportunity as I could see how the work I was undertaking was helping to inform the client on the possible solutions to maintain temperatures acceptable to the public, some of which have already been implemented. I feel very proud every time I walk past some of these stations and see the solutions implemented and doing the job as our models once predicted!
Whilst still working on the Victoria line project, our team was invited to tender for an even more challenging line – the Piccadilly line. This was a great opportunity for me as it allowed me to get involved in a project from start to completion. In the early stages I had exposure to a more commercial part of the business during the tendering process – facing the client during this period and getting familiarised with this part of the process. Following the award of the project, the first phase consisted of data collection through site surveys and available data processing of 20 stations – nearly 40 fan/draught relief shafts within a tight schedule. I had the great responsibility of leading most of these site surveys which entailed work from writing method statements, preparing pre- and post-survey reports, liaising with station supervisors and contractors on site to carry out the works, and being responsible for the team on site. After successfully completing this phase, I dedicated myself to this project during the subsequent project stages: producing a comprehensive 1D model of the Piccadilly line and its ventilation system, and doing parametric simulations to test different cooling solutions. This work has received high commendations from the client during its execution.
Since 2010 I have been part of the Atkins team engaged in the options analysis for the upgrade of two major road tunnels at the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow. A part within this large scheme entailed looking at fixed fire suppression systems. Fire suppression is increasingly becoming accepted as an option in the fire protection of tunnels, both for life-safety improvements and for protection of the tunnel structure itself. My role was mainly to evaluate options for active fire suppression using high pressure water mist and low pressure deluge systems for the tunnels. As part of this role I was lucky enough to witness real scale fire tests organised by market leaders and I even got really close to a mock-up truck fire with the fixed fire suppression system deployed! These options are under consideration as risk reduction measures for the tunnels and I am looking forward to continuing my role as the project moves to detailed design and implementation.
As a member of Atkins’ Ground Engineering Academy I am ever grateful for the training and support I have received to help me towards Chartership status, which I am aiming to achieve by next year. The variety of work – which can range from site work to modelling to looking into innovative ways of making tunnels safer – is what keeps me motivated to come to the office every day."