Like maths? Like science? Not sure what you want to do or how this could become a career? What about becoming an engineer? Already an engineer? Why not think about a career in defence? My name is Helen Randell and I’m DIO’s Senior Civil and Structural Engineer.
I work with DIO’s Head Civil and Structural Engineer Tim Lord in the Safety, Environment and Engineering (SEE) team as part of Engineering and Construction (E&C).
I’ve been a civil engineer for nearly 10 years and I’ve been working for DIO since April 2017. I have found that engineering within defence has given me so many unique and exciting opportunities. For example, I am involved in planning and advising on a range of projects including constructing, repairing or demolishing buildings, advising on repairs to mechanisms such as flagpoles, assessing risks on assault courses and issuing safety alerts and technical guidance for those who work at height throughout the estate.
My role takes me to interesting places and challenges me to make engineering real for the people I work with. Many of the buildings operated by defence are listed buildings so we often have to consider how any repairs could affect the building and suggest creative solutions that will not damage or compromise the original structure. We might also have to design a structure or building that will have different uses so we need to bear this in mind. There may be obstacles when installing or building structures that need to be planned. As with many jobs, there are also deadlines and pressure to complete tasks to specific timescales.
Engineering as a career is incredibly varied and our wider team includes Building Surveyors, Airfield Pavement Engineers, Mechanical and Fuel Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Weapons Effects Engineers, Waste and Water Engineers, Nuclear Equipment and Support Engineers, Railway Engineers and Fire Safety Managers.
I am really keen to share the benefits of a career in engineering with young people and to encourage all engineers to consider a career in defence. British Science Week (9-18 March 2018) encourages young people to consider studying STEM subjects and exploring careers in science and engineering. I was pleased to be able to attend the Big Bang Science Fair at the NEC in Birmingham to help mark the occasion.
The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) display was aimed at giving young people practical examples of what civil engineers do and the types of problems that they tackle. Young people were challenged to figure out how to best support the Leaning Tower of Pisa, how to design flood prevention using Lego and plasticine, and how to build a sturdy bridge. We also discussed how we would use both maths and science in a practical way to approach these types of tasks.
I was amazed by the buzz at the NEC and the amount of young people who were there getting involved in the activities. The event spread to three halls at the NEC and there were around 17,500 students there on just one day! There was such a range of age groups and they were also so enthusiastic, it was really inspiring. All of the Armed Forces had taken part as well with very impressive displays of aircraft, simulators and other equipment. Our activities were quite popular, especially the flood defence scenario as we used real water to show students whether their preventative measures would flood the Lego town or keep it dry.
I hope that some of my passion for maths and science inspired young people to think about becoming engineers. I also hope that engineers reading this blog are inspired to think about a career in the challenging and varied world of defence.