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Engineering Technicians (EngTech)

Callum O’Connell EngTech MICE

Published: 02/12/2019

Callum O'Connell EngTech MICEEducation and qualifications:
HND Civil Engineering

Job title:
Highways Engineering Technician


What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
While I was growing up, my grandad was an electrical engineer and always encouraged me to help him out with his work. He introduced me to computer-aided design (CAD) design from a young age. His love of all things engineering helped to guide my career down that path. As a school leaver, making the choice between going to college or gaining a job and qualifications through a technical trainee programme was an easy decision.

Arup has a great attitude to the development of young apprentices and technical trainees, providing complete support in the growth of their staff from school leaver to young professional. I would recommend the apprentice route to anyone wanting to get into civil engineering because of the academic knowledge you gain, but most importantly the real-world engineering skills that you pick up while at work.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
In my current role as a Highways Engineering Technician at Arup I am responsible for delivering innovative, cost effective and safe engineering solutions to meet our clients’ requirements.

Can you describe a typical working day?
I liaise with clients and pull together scopes of work and budgets for them. I also play a role in developing and mentoring others within the team in preparation for their professional reviews.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Juggling the demands of the client with the aspirations of the architect and the limitations of the budget.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The experience I have gained from the different types of projects I am lucky to have been involved in. This experience has been of great benefit to my career. Also, working with the different people within Arup and being part of a great team makes me really enjoy my job. There is always someone who can help. If you love the work you do and the team you work with you’ll always want to give 100%.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
After joining Arup, I rotated between the Rail and Bridges Departments, learning the various CAD packages before moving onto track design work in the rail team. There I worked on a variety of projects including Docklands Light Railway, London Olympics 2012 and the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. In 2012, I joined an HS2 project team, based within the Highways Infrastructure Group, where I became more involved with highways design. The work I was doing and the great team I was working with prompted me to make a permanent move to this group. Since then I have moved fully into highway design, leading small teams within the larger project to produce 3D highway models, reports and drawings as well as visiting key stakeholders.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
There were not many professionally registered technicians at Arup, so I thought that joining the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and going for professional registration would not only boost my career prospects within the company but also boost the profile of the technician role, which is integral to every project. Achieving professional recognition as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) shows my employer and clients that my skills as a technician have been assessed and validated by my peers in the industry, giving me greater credibility.

A few technicians at Arup were interested in becoming professionally registered so, with the help of an Arup training agreement, a timetable of dates and milestones was set prior to the ICE EngTech interview date. Bi-weekly lunchtime workshops were set up in order for us all to learn more about what was required, such as the correct writing style and what evidence was needed. This was done with help from other ICE members in our office. Closer to the time of the review date we each had a mock interview with senior members of staff, all good practice before the big day.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Since gaining my EngTech status not only have I enjoyed a salary increase, but it has also given me a renewed drive to push my career forwards and show my employer my commitment to further developing my skills. Finally, being able to put EngTech on my CV and email signature does make me feel proud of my achievement and provides opportunities for career development that are unavailable without such a status.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Arup benefits by being able to show that their staff are committed to their jobs and take pride in their work. It provides clients with the confidence that the engineering staff working on their projects are competent, having been recognised professionally within their industry, and that they will provide the highest possible quality of work.

Arup were fully supportive by providing mock interviews and guidance. The company organised for ICE to hold the interviews in our office and paid for all interviews, joining and membership fees, so there was no excuse not to get on with it.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Don’t wait, just do it! The growing numbers of technicians making that next step to achieve registration means you don’t want to be left behind. It also means that there is plenty of support to help you along the journey. It doesn’t have to be taxing if you stay focused on the end goal.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
My next goal is to continue to gain further technical knowledge and experience at Arup in order to make the next step in obtaining Incorporated Engineer (IEng).

Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
Upon joining Arup, all apprentices and graduates are encouraged to participate in recruitment and careers events at local schools and colleges.

Since the introduction of the NVQ pathway for new apprentices I have worked as a mentor to our new starters. This role is to ensure the apprentices are receiving the appropriate level of engineering work for them to complete both their academic qualification and professional status. The role also gives the apprentices a ‘friendly face’ around the office, giving support in any other areas outside of the classroom.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering?
Outside work I have a classic BMW which sometimes needs the same ‘problem solving’ skills used in the work environment. These skills have helped to sort quite a few issues at work over the years.