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Wilson Okaka, Assistant Structural Engineer, Atkins


Assistant Structural Engineer

Business area: Infrastructure Division, Structures Team
Years into GDP: 2
University and degree: University of Sheffield, Msc. Structural Engineering

Can you briefly describe your role and what you do?

As a graduate structural engineer, I work within a multidisciplinary team comprising architects, civil engineers, building services engineers, structures technicians, and project managers, to provide the most efficient and sustainable solutions that our meet clients’ need. The projects I have been involved with ranges from new builds such as train stations, schools, and hospitals, to structural surveys and maintenance of existing structures. Within my role on a typical project, I develop conceptual designs, do structural hand calculations, produce 3-D structural models using specialised software such as Fastrak Building Designer and Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional and communicate the results with our in-house structural technicians through annotated sketches. I also attend design team meetings where the structural solutions are integrated with those of the other teams.

Why did you choose Atkins?

After achieving a first class and masters’ degree in structural engineering, it was my earnest desire to start my career with a world-class multi-disciplinary company that offers a friendly and flexible career development opportunity to fresh graduates. I was pleased to learn (from some video testimonials on Atkins’ website) that Atkins offers a fantastic career development package through its three-year Graduate Development Programme (GDP). With the Atkins’s GDP, I would be able to take ownership of my career path by diversifying my work experience, while building the skill set necessary to achieve chartered engineer status within reasonable time scale.

Another key attraction for me was the fact that Atkins does not only deliver diverse range of challenging projects that have real impact in people’s lives, they are at the forefront of creating innovative designs that tackles the demand of a low carbon future.

Overall, Atkins was my preferred choice because I wanted to be part of the success of a company that sets the pace for others in the structural engineering industry.

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

I joined Atkins Exeter office in July 2015 and it’s been an amazing working experience and a steep learning curve. I have been privileged to be involved in varied sizes of projects from different sectors.

One of my key accomplishments so far is the structural survey of the famous grade I listed structure - The Cobb which serves as a defensive sea wall in the harbour of Lyme Regis. Our client required a structural assessment of the 350m long, 7-segment wall after a severe storm (with highest recorded gust of 58 knots, storm force 10) hit the structure during high tide. Atkins was commissioned to analyse existing crack and inclinometer data from previous surveys of the structure and give recommendations on possibility of using LiDAR or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) methodology for mapping the whole structure in future. It was indeed an interesting project.

My role involved teaming up with a senior colleague to carry out a visual inspection of the structure; capturing those areas of localized mortar washout due to storm forces, corrosion of sheet piles around the structure and excessive movement of joints and cracks on the surfaces. I was responsible for preparing a written technical report of the findings of the survey and was delivered to the client within the set time scale.

What do you do outside of the graduate development programme?

As a devout Christian, I am excited about the Christian community group that's recently been established. 

My experience at Atkins Exeter office has been amazing – feels like working with family. One of the most memorable times was when my colleagues celebrated my birthday in the office.  

I am also part of the Exeter office football team which brings everyone together irrespective of age and discipline. I always look forward to our weekly game because it's always fun and refreshing. 


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