placement: Engineering
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""Jake Thompson

Placement Position: Balfour Beatty, Undergraduate Engineer

(Profile courtesy of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth)

How did you obtain your placement and what help did you receive from the University?

My placement was obtained through the University Industrial Alliance Bursary Scheme. After an interview process and a meeting session with the industrial sponsors I chose which company I would prefer to join. 

The university helped my by initially informing me of the bursary scheme in the first place. Setting up the Industrial Alliance with the companies involved made finding a company a lot easier than if I had applied to each individual company.

Can you describe your current job and the types of role that you fulfill?

I am based in a design office and estimating department, alongside the design team. 

My jobs include:

  • Tenders for projects:
    I am provided with a site/ground investigation, pile schedules, drawings, and specifications. With this data I create borehole profiles, design lines with SPT and Cu data, pile schedules, capacity sheets (to determine pile toe levels), Cemset spreadsheets (settlement of concrete), and the QR form (which includes a summary sheet, ground condition overview, list of issued documents, etc).
  • Wallap analysis:
    Wallap is a piece of software used to analyse moments and horizontal loads on piles or pile walls. It is a key tool in assisting the calculation of steel reinforcements in piles.
  • Site visits:
    Sometimes I will visit a site to help my understanding of the procedures in piling. If the company wins a job that I contributed to in tender stage I will go to the site to put into perspective what I worked on in the office.
  • Estimating:
    Once a tender has been completed I will follow it on through the estimating stages. This requires me to calculate the total costs of all the factors involved for the job. This was a small part of my placement which occurred over a 6 week period.

What do you feel you will gain from the Placement year?

It will put my university work into perspective, whilst also teaching me more about the subjects. Hopefully it will give me a head start in some of the units that I am yet to cover at university. 

Working 9 to 5 is much different from working at university, where it is easy to see free time as ‘time off work,’ but I hope to stay in a more focused mind frame and spend more time studying when I return to university.

What do you enjoy most about studying at University?

Some of the lecturers have lots of enthusiasm for the course which rubs off to the students. The field trips can be enjoyable.

Background Image: The Crossrail Project, London. Credit: EG Focus / Flickr