Meet our Alumni: Graduate Rail Bridge Engineer, James Rawlin

6 January 2021

Meet our Alumni: Graduate Rail Bridge Engineer, James Rawlin

ADBE Student Profiles

Why did you join the UTC Sheffield City Centre?
I joined the UTC in the first cohort in 2013 as the combination of hands-on and theoretical learning on the Engineering curriculum stood out to me. Studying here was the right choice for me and I’m so glad I decided to join.

What was your favourite thing at the UTC?
Within the Engineering diploma, I most enjoyed the Computer-Aided Design Module with PES Performance, where I developed and tested golf-driver models based on client briefs. I also enjoyed the Innovation module which allowed us to look at different aspects of Engineering. My interest in Civil Engineering prompted me to analyse the first suspension bridge in the UK, which involved creating a large scale-model of it and conducting practical tests. I liked that every lesson was different and that all the Engineering projects allowed us to get hands-on experience.

What interests you about Engineering?
I’ve always loved designing and fixing things, so felt curious to learn how to do this for a career. I like the challenges that Engineering brings such as problem-solving and delivering sustainable solutions.

Can you tell us what you’re doing now
I’ve recently graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a First-Class MEng (Hons) Degree in Civil Engineering Design and Construction, which I’m extremely happy about! The UTC definitely provided me with a stepping-stone to prepare me for my university degree, with skills and software I learnt at the UTC helping me on multiple types of coursework.

Since graduating, I’ve started working at Arcadis UK as a Graduate Rail Bridge Engineer. I’ve completed placements at this company previously, which provided me with industry experience and employability skills. At Arcadis, I’ve been working on projects for Network Rail, Nexus and TFL. At the moment I’m working on HS2, so I’ve been really busy helping deliver the largest UK infrastructure project in generations.

Do you use anything you’ve learnt from the UTC now?
The UTC has helped me to develop my technical skills and feel much more confident when using new software. I also learnt valuable life and social skills which I continued to improve on within my degree, including time management and independence. My tutors pushed me to make my own decisions and take on lots of the responsibility for my learning, which massively helped and eased me into my higher education experience.

What’s been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievements would definitely be winning numerous Engineering Awards! I won an engineering award from the UTC for my efforts on the Engineering diploma where I was placed within the top 10 results in the country. In the past year I have also won awards from VolkerFitzpatrick and Turner & Townsend for projects I have completed at university, including my dissertation where I utilised software learned at the UTC. Recently I also achieved 3rd place in the Dominic Fox Prize from the Association of Civil Engineering Departments for my video entry aimed at encouraging more young people to study Civil Engineering.

Do you have any advice for younger students who are at school thinking about studying Engineering?
For most Engineering jobs I would recommend studying Maths and Physics A Levels alongside the Engineering diploma at the UTC, as this worked well for me. However, it’s a good idea to research the different Engineering sectors to have a clearer idea about what skills are more suited to your preferred sector. For example, the world is becoming more digital and needs more Software Engineers, so if you’re interested in learning about software development or coding then other A Levels may be better suited alongside the diploma. It’s a challenging subject but it’s provided me with lots of valuable knowledge and transferable skills that I’m excited to develop further in my career.

What do you want to do in the future?
The UTC has developed my passion for Engineering and I’m keen to stay working within this industry. I will either stay working at a Civil Engineering company or become a Lecturer in this field. Teaching this subject really appeals to me, as at university I enjoyed completing high-level assessments and designs and working alongside live projects, so would love to go on to help others and educate them in such an exciting, fast-paced sector.