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Engineering Technicians (EngTech)

Santina Bunting EngTech MICE

Published: 29/02/2024

Education and qualifications:
BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment

Job title:
Assistant Technician/ Level 6 Civil Engineering Apprentice







What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
Growing up, like many children, I found lots of joy in playing and creating with Lego, often spending countless hours immersed in my own little world alongside my brother. It was my creative outlet and sparked that initial interest in design. Additionally, during my time in school, I had the opportunity to participate in various work experiences, where I was able to interact with professionals in the field of engineering. Their personal stories and insights provided me with a deeper understanding of the diverse career paths and opportunities available within the sector. Despite the traditional narrative of pursuing A-levels prevalent in my grammar school, I made the conscious decision to deviate from that path and embark on a civil engineering apprenticeship journey. This choice allowed me to combine my passion for creative problem-solving with practical hands-on experience in the dynamic world of civil engineering.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I started at Arup in September 2021, within the ground engineering team, as a level 3 Civil Engineering apprentice. Having successfully completed my Level 3 Apprenticeship, which involved going to college part time to study for a BTEC, I am now a qualified technician with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE). I am now an assistant technician doing a level 6 Degree Apprenticeship at Warwick University on a block release basis.

Can you describe a typical working day?
A typical day as an apprentice varies depending on the projects that I am working on. Most of my responsibilities within the ground engineering team include the creation and management of geotechnical databases, creating drawings and working on reports. The projects that I can work on vary from major UK highways schemes to international projects including working on a bridge crossing in Uganda and projects based in India.

My daily routine also includes a brief team meeting which allows for task assignments and ensuring that people have a balance workload. Additionally, when working in the office, I enjoy having informal catch-ups with colleagues during lunch or coffee breaks which contributes to a welcoming atmosphere in the office. Outside of my day-to-day activities I am an Early career Representative for the Birmingham office which involves  helping to organise  early career events whether that is  project burst luncheons or feedback meetings.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
The unusual aspect of my job is that I’m an apprentice, but I think it is a position that allows me to be versatile in the work that I undertake, whether that’s creating drawings or working on reports, as well as being the perfect position to learn from senior colleagues around me.

However, being an apprentice also requires effective time management and organisational skills. Balancing the demands of full-time work on major projects with studying either at university or college can be challenging. For example, when I go to university, I go one week every month and that involves an intensive schedule of 33 hours of lectures over 5 days. This has been made easier through the supportive work environment that I’m in and regular communication and collaboration with my team to ensure we are all in the same place. With a great team around me I feel empowered to take on new tasks and additional responsibilities and know that if I do need help, they’ll be there to support me.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
What I find the most enjoyable about my job is having the opportunity to continually learn from others and being able to apply the knowledge I have learnt to positively impact the projects I am assigned to. Fortunately, I have not just worked on jobs within the UK but had the opportunity to work on international projects in India and Uganda.

As I am quite extroverted and love meeting new people, I love the fact that Arup has such a warm, welcoming atmosphere where I can connect with people outside of my immediate team. As soon as I joined, I felt welcomed into the company and feel like a valued member of a larger family rather than just another employee.

Additionally, I am fortunate to have had lots of external opportunities that come with being an apprentice. Serving as an apprentice panel member for the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education and participating in events such as speaking engagements at the House of Lords or collaborating with the Department of Education on their Skills for Life campaign have allowed me to represent Arup as an ambassador for apprenticeships.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
Upon finishing my Level 3 Civil Engineering Apprenticeship at Arup I achieved the highest BTEC result of Distinction* Distinction* as well as being awarded EngTech status with ICE. This achievement was very significant to me as it underscores and highlights the value of apprenticeships in facilitating ongoing education while attaining professional recognition and competence simultaneously. It shows that my decision to do an apprenticeship rather than go down the traditional route was worth it.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Becoming professionally registered with ICE was integrated into my Level 3 apprenticeship alongside my end point assessment.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
ICE is an established organisation that has a high profile not just in the United Kingdom but around the world and is home to thousands of members. Being a part of the institute has allowed me to expand my network by having the opportunity to get to know other members, and EngTech status recognises my competency and validated my skills and expertise. Registration will also allow me to work towards becoming an incorporated engineer after completing my university degree and help with my future career ambitions.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Firstly, becoming professionally qualified validates the effectiveness of Arup’s investment in me as an apprentice, demonstrating that their commitment to developing and supporting their employees has demonstrated positive results. This reinforces the value of having apprentices within the company and highlights to others the contributions apprentices can make to the organisation.

Additionally, my professional registration enhances Arup's reputation as an employer of choice. It serves as a testament to the company's dedication of fostering a culture of continuous learning and professional growth. By highlighting the professional registrations of their employees, Arup can attract external talent by showcasing the opportunities for advancement and recognition within the organisation.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Just go for it. Becoming professionally recognised will not only demonstrate your competency and commitment to high standards in your chosen sector but help to enhance future career opportunities and areas of professional development and progress. Being professionally recognised also grants you access to a large network of fellow industry professionals and experts which can be invaluable for sharing knowledge, experiences, and professional insights.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
Having successfully competed my Level 3 apprenticeship I hope to also complete my degree apprenticeship and become an incorporated member of the ICE. I also hope to have more project opportunities and do some more in-depth engineering work as my competency increases.

Through doing my apprenticeship and my role as the Early Career Rep for the Birmingham office I hope to have broadened my network, both internally and externally, and have made a positive meaningful impact on the company, as well as continue serving as an apprentice ambassador.

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?
Giving back has been a personal commitment since starting my apprenticeship journey. As an apprentice ambassador, I've had the privilege of being invited back to my secondary school on multiple occasions to speak about apprenticeships and advocate for women in STEM. Having attended an all-girls grammar school myself, I understand the importance of representation and mentorship. I enjoy being able to share my experiences and serve as a role model for young women considering careers in STEM and apprenticeships. My aim is to inspire and empower others by demonstrating that pursuing a career in engineering Is very rewarding.