Show Form

News search

News Menu:

Sign up to our Engage eNewsletter

Engineering Technicians (EngTech)

Catherine Downes EngTech MCIHT

Published: 08/04/2021

Catherine Downes portraitEducation and qualifications:
BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering), City of Liverpool College.

Job title:
Senior Technician


What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I have always been interested in Maths and Applied Maths. The aspect of solving puzzles and applying knowledge to scenarios has always drawn me in. I am inspired by women doing well in this field, especially engineering where there is still a gender imbalance. This pushed me to pursue a career in the civil engineering field.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I am a Senior Technician within the Traffic Projects team. I work with a team of highways/traffic engineers and I am involved in implementing Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) to impose traffic management measures on the public highway, designing and improving cycle and pedestrian routes on key networks within major cities and designing and introducing road markings and traffic signs for various schemes

Can you describe a typical working day?
My role is heavily computer-aided design (CAD) orientated. An example of a typical TRO that I would design is a junction protection with waiting restrictions. These restrictions would be set out with dimensions to show the exact proposed location. I would then write a TRO schedule to indicate the location and length of restrictions, in preparation for this becoming a legal order. I would also write consultation documents regarding the proposed TRO, such as letters to councillors, key stakeholders and residents, and approach them for feedback on the proposed scheme.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
I am still fairly new to traffic project engineering, with a little over a year’s experience and I am still getting to grips with the legal aspect of the TRO process in terms of writing schedules, delegated powers, authorisation forms and so on. However, I am enjoying the challenge and take pride in the knowledge I have gained and the work that I have produced so far.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
In my new role, I have been given more responsibility, including managing my own projects. It is rewarding to see schemes you have delivered being implemented, especially as everything I have been working on is local. I now have more opportunities to go to site too, and this makes my role more varied; I am not just stuck behind a desk.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I was delighted to learn that I had achieved the CIHT ‘Award for Outstanding Performance at Professional Review’ following my professional review where I gained Engineering Technician (EngTech) status through CIHT in November 2020.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
With two children, I have often found it hard to dedicate the time to becoming professionally registered. Also, having been in the same job for seven years, I felt I needed more of a challenge. However, starting a new role revived my interest in engineering (reminding me why I had pursued a career in this field) and gave me the determination to complete my professional registration and gain EngTech status.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
On receiving my professional registration and achieving my award, I was provided with a lot of exposure within the company. It was a fantastic feeling to receive praise and recognition for my achievements which I have worked so hard for, even receiving a personal message from the Managing Director of Amey Consulting, expressing his congratulations. I was also published in CIHT’s ‘Transportation Professional’ magazine recognising my achievements and promoting me through the wider engineering community. I feel I am now in a position to move forward with confidence in my ability.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Some framework bids for city councils require most of the staff named within the bid to have some form of professional registration. In gaining EngTech status, I have enabled my name to be put forward as part these bids.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Preparation is key to a successful professional review. Practise your presentation and keep it punchy. You want your reviewers to be interested in what you are telling them.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
My ambitions are to become an engineer. I hope over the next few years, I will have gained the experience needed to do so. I fully believe that with my recent achievements and how I’ve grasped my new role in traffic engineering, there is no reason to stop me from doing so. I am also aiming for the next level of professional registration, Incorporated Engineer (IEng).

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
In my previous role as Assistant Technician at Arup, I was heavily involved with the Prince’s Trust, volunteering in the events we hosted. These events would introduce young people to the ‘world of work’ and I would provide support to those attending by offering guidance on how they should approach job hunting, further education etc. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, I have been unable to participate in community engagement recently. At Arup, I also helped with mentoring apprentices on our team. I would support them through their studies at college and their work in the office. Most recently, I have applied for a CIHT North West region committee role as a Recruitment Officer.