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Thomas Harkins, Assistant Engineer, Atkins


Assistant Engineer

Business area: Transportation
Years into GDP: 2
University and degree: Edinburgh University with an Integrated Masters in Civil Engineering and Construction Management

What projects have you worked on during the graduate development programme?

I was the Project Manager for a project worth roughly £150k. In my time managing it, I improved upon my soft skills as well as my management acumen. This project involved liaising with other teams across the UK business as well as our team mates in the GDC (Global Design Centre – in India), a sub-contractor in India and our clients, Network Rail. The project closed out recently and reported a very healthy profit margin of around 30%.

Furthermore, I have been an Assistant Project Manager for a large multi-disciplinary railway scheme, worth around £3.5 million to Atkins. Weekly tasks involved interfacing with work package managers – discussing budget and programme, monitoring as well as drafting the application for payment.

Recently, I have returned from secondment to the A1 Leeming to Barton project where I worked as a Quality Engineer for 6 months. Atkins were hired to assist Highways England in performing their client duties. In this role, I was responsible for auditing quality processes on site and could create my own programme for delivery to the contractor. Furthermore, I was involved in raising Non-Conformities and Site Observations as well as attending site inspections, quality meetings and management meetings. I was also involved in drafting Project Managers Instructions.

As per above I have been involved in projects in a design role also, allowing me to develop my skills in CAD in the process.

I am due to go out to Delhi as part of the GDC Secondment scheme.

What didn’t you know, but wish you had known when applying and joining Atkins?

In Transportation there’s a Buddy Scheme where you get paired up with someone already on the Graduate Development Programme. This allows new starters to ask any questions they can think of before they start. It also gives the new starter an opportunity to visit the office prior to their start date.

What do you do outside of the graduate development programme?

I undertook the ICE Civil Engineering Law and Contract Management Course last year and gained a great deal from it. Furthermore, I have completed a few Atkins internal courses on Project Management and Finance, as well as attending webinars on technical subjects.

I was involved with the ICE sponsored Merit Competition. MERIT is a computer-based program that simulates the running of a virtual construction company; based on markets, managerial and technical decisions, winning work and much more. The competition ran for 8 weeks and the top 6 teams at the end of that period went to a final held at Loughborough University where they carried out another 8 rounds in 2 days. I have taken part in this for the last two years and am planning to take part next year also.

I am an active member of the Transportation Graduate Forum and I am involved with initiatives looking at increasing graduate mobility, improving engagement with new starters and improving links between Atkins and universities.

Also, I am currently the Vice Chair of the ICE Yorkshire and Humber Graduate and Students Committee.

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