• 12 July 2016

‘I didn’t know what to expect, but it was all I had hoped for…and more’

Rebecca Cadwallader joined our Structures team for a two weeks’ work placement.

Ever since I was a young girl I’ve always had an inquiring mind- much to my parent’s annoyance as it would take double the time to go anywhere due to my constant questioning and need to know exactly how everything works. In school I enjoyed maths and physics and took them on to A-level but it wasn’t until trying to decide what to study at university that I found out about engineering as a career. That began my journey into the world of engineering and I am now starting my 4th year studying civil engineering at the University of Exeter with the ultimate aim of being chartered.

I obviously didn’t grow out of my inquisitive nature and since starting university, I decided to get some work experience during my summer holidays that would allow me to see exactly what kind of things I could be doing when I graduate. And so here I am… now coming to the end of my second week shadowing Regional Director Andrew Sherlock on a work placement in the structures team.

I was first exposed to Waterman when working with a contracting engineering firm on a project they were involved in last summer. I was overwhelmed by their inclusion and encouragement when engaging with them in meetings then, and this has only increased since being on placement here. Everyone here has taken an interest in what I’m working on and how I’m finding it, from Directors to graduates and receptionists, and are always willing to help or explain things to me.

I didn’t know what to expect when coming here on placement but I’d hoped it would be challenging, informative and help me to decide which part of engineering to go into. It was all of these things and more! I was given tasks where I could apply some of the things I’d learnt in university as well as learn new ones. I attended meetings with clients, contractors, architects and BIM specialists, as well as site visits, witness demolition, asbestos removal and view trial pits. A highlight for me was going to Birmingham for the day to visit a couple of steel fabrication plants. Here, alongside discussing the different methods of fabrication of a stainless steel curved and tapered tube, I was able to look around the workshops and witness how structural steel elements are produced.

While speaking to other young engineers at the company they told me the positives and negatives of working at Waterman. According to them it’s the best company to work for and there are no negatives. Certainly, in my short time here, I haven’t found any! The experience has exceeded any expectation that I had for a short summer placement. I was fortunate enough to get to be involved in a wide range of projects with a large number of people, all of who are passionate about engineering and helping you develop as an engineer. I have felt so welcome during my time here and even in such a short time have learnt a great deal- Thank you everyone and hopefully I’ll see you again!

Rebecca Cadwallader