Alice Franks

Undergraduate Placement Civil Engineer, Waterman Aspen

“There are numerous roles in this industry whether you like solving problems, are really creative, or love working within a multi-skilled team. You will fit in perfectly”

I’ve always enjoyed maths and physics but the main attraction to become an engineer for me was being able to use my knowledge and build something that is visible to the world. I love problem solving and was inspired to follow in Emily Roebling’s footsteps (a developer known for her contribution to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge), proving that women can do all the things men can.

A career in engineering really attracted me because there is always a problem to solve and new ideas that need to be made into a reality. As I’m still in the middle of my studies, I have the added benefit of being able to design a building from concept to completion and be involved in something I never imagined possible. I would definitely recommend doing a placement in the middle of a degree as it has helped me to understand the practical side of what I’m learning at University.

The best thing about my job on a day-to-day basis is that I get to be involved in the City of Culture work in Coventry, meaning I get to design things right outside my door and I have an influence on the work that goes on within the city centre. However, with this responsibility also comes the challenges of having to coordinate various groups of people and organisations in a way that allows everything to run smoothly over many different projects and timescales.

I’ve come across people who think we fix Sky TV boxes and don’t realise that we work on multimillion pound jobs, requiring a high level of knowledge and ability. People’s lives depend on whether we do a good or a bad job, not just their TV reception. If a bridge collapses or a building falls down, people will be affected in a big way. It’s our job to ensure that our designs are safe because, if not, the results could be catastrophic.

I thought I would be stuck working on little jobs for years before I was able to work on major projects but in reality, as soon as I started I was able to get involved with big schemes that required a lot of planning, design and coordination. I cannot wait to graduate and be involved in even more projects. I’m also currently a Secretary of the Institute of Civil Engineers Coventry and Warwickshire Branch and we organise various events throughout the year for all kinds of people. I hope to include International Women in Engineering Day as one of our events in the future as women need to be recognised for the amazing work they are doing in the industry.

Anyone can choose a career in engineering. There are numerous roles in this industry whether you like solving problems, are really creative, or love working within a multi-skilled team. You will fit in perfectly. My advice? Be confident, take risks, and you will achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Alice Franks

You can view Alice’s video here.



You can also view our International Women in Engineering Day video here.

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