Veronica Revilla is a graduate civil engineer working in Atkins' Dubai office as part of the Ground Engineering team. As part of the #AtkinsMyTime initiative, she's taken the time to share some perspectives about starting her career.
What are the experiences that you think you will need to build a successful career in engineering and business?
Although technical and practical exposure is a big part of building a successful career in engineering, to be a ‘good’ engineer it is necessary to know the strategy to get work approved, understand the client and the processes to go through to win work. Therefore I believe that having face to face interaction with the client as well as learning how to manage them and acquiring commercial experience is essential to understanding the business, your role and the expectations, not only of the client but of the industry as a whole, from you are essential to further your career in a successful manner.
What are the three most important things that you have learnt so far and will take forward in your career?
The three most important things or lessons I have learnt in terms of my experience in the projects I have worked on are the following:
- Formalise and have record of everything in particular if it involves changes to the work you do/are doing. This will not only serve as a tracker for changes but it helps to be clear about the work you are carrying out and prevent any abortive work.
- Assume other people are wrong and satisfy yourself that the answers/solutions are correct.
- Do not give definitive statements if you are dealing with problems with factors out of your control. Many times in engineering we forget that the solutions we provide are based on assumptions and approximations. These should be explicitly stated and kept in mind by the parties involved.
How important do you think technology will be throughout your career?
Technology will be paramount in my career. Even in recent years technology has developed and changed the face and pace of the industry in an extreme manner. From computers performing calculations in minutes when in the past took days to real time multidisciplinary coordination through integrated systems saving time and effort as well as improving the quality of the work produced. These changes took place in such a short period of time that I am sure many more will come within my career time that will improve the existing processes and ways we work and deliver.
What role do you think partnership/collaboration can play/will play throughout your career?
Partnerships and collaborations already play an important role in my career. From daily collaborations with my team which helps me develop and deliver work that otherwise I would not be able to do by myself to partnerships and collaborations built as commercial decisions to win work. I believe that this will be playing a constant role throughout my development and that of the business.
Have you observed a small thing that has made a big impact in the industry?
The introduction of BIM systems has had a massive impact on the industry to the extent that the way we deliver work is changing. This has also shortened delivery times as now any clashes between elements from different disciplines are detected early on in the project before it reaches detail design stages when changes and modifications cost more.
How do you hope to affect our everyday lives in your working career?
My experience is mainly focused on the rail sector. At the moment I am involved in the design of the Doha Metro and I can see the extent of planned development in the city that will take place thanks to its construction. Cities expand, people get connected, it improves congestion, helps the environment, creates jobs etc. These are just a few of the benefits and improvements on the daily life that I hope to see through the work I carry out as part of my career.
How can design/engineering help us transform our world?
Engineering is all about understanding and improving the world around us to make it more accessible in the most efficient possible way. If we take Dubai as an example, engineering converted a semi habitable desert into one of the most popular cities in terms of infrastructure and lifestyle, all as a result of engineering. If such a transformation was possible in one of the most inhospitable places in the world we can only imagine the type of transformations that can take place throughout the world.
What attracted you to Atkins and engineering/design industry?
The first thing that attracted me to Atkins was the type and scale of projects that the company was involved in, in particular in the Middle East where the most prestigious of Atkins' projects are. In terms of the engineering industry I have always been inclined towards a technical path however civil engineering seemed to be the right combination of technical skills and creativity to solve problems.
What do you think will be different in 2020 and beyond?
At the pace in which the industry and the world are evolving I think there will be major changes in the way we do almost everything. The industry will rely even more heavily in technology from software based to developments in materials, the way we share information and communicate. I would also like to think that sustainability will have a big impact on the design and construction processes in the future. I believe that stricter regulations will come into place that will challenge engineers to create leaner and less wasteful designs.
What advice and support do you need in building your career in the future?
I think the support of senior staff and colleagues as well as the opportunity to work in different projects and roles to gain a full range of experiences is essential to build my career in the future.