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Wilson Okaka, Graduate Engineer – Infrastructure (Structural), Atkins


Graduate Engineer – Infrastructure (Structural)

My Bio

What have been your key achievements since joining Atkins? 

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

One of my key accomplishments is the structural survey of the famous grade II 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 hit the structure during high tide (with highest recorded gust of 58 knots, storm force 10). The client asked us to analyse existing crack and inclinometer data from previous surveys and give recommendations on the possibility of using LiDAR or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) methodology for mapping the whole structure in the future. 

I worked with a senior colleague to carry out visual inspection of the structure; capturing areas of localized mortar washout, corrosion of sheet piles around the structure and excessive movement of joints and cracks on the surfaces. Furthermore, I prepared a technical report of the findings of the survey which was delivered to the client within the set time scale. It was indeed an interesting project. The results of our work proved that the ongoing routine maintenance of the structure must continue and that the use of LiDAR/UAV surveys would only provide very limited advantages in terms of accuracy and cost.

Working with a multi-disciplinary design team, I have designed a number of educational buildings in steel frame construction. My job has given me the rare opportunity of being involved in every stage of the projects from conceptual design to commissioning, therefore enabling me gain a holistic understanding of structural delivery of such projects. For example, during the Dartington school project, I came up with a structural concept that transformed the architectural piece into an efficient and optimal 3-D structural model. I was part of the design team meetings where we integrated solutions from various disciplines and reported project progress and deliverables. I like the fact that my job routinely allows me to use basic structural engineering principles and formulae to perform simplified hand calculations that facilitates the verification of computer-based results. This is allowing me link my academic background knowledge with real life situations.

Through on-the-job training, I am now proficient with the use of several software packages like Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professionals (2015), CSC Fastrak Building Designer (2015) and Tekla Tedds in facilitating project delivery. 

Other achievements include, signing up with the prestigious ICE Training Agreement, gaining full qualification as a STEM ambassador, professionally qualified holder of CSCS card and attainment of more than 60 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses offered by Atkins and other organizations.

What attracted you to Atkins?

After achieving a first class and masters’ degree in structural engineering, I wanted to start my career with a world-class multi-disciplinary engineering company that offers a friendly and flexible career development opportunity to fresh graduates. I was pleased to learn from some video testimonials by existing Atkins graduates the fantastic career development package offered in the 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 a 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 especially in the structural engineering industry.

What other activities have you been involved with? 

Right from Atkins graduate induction event to date, I have enjoyed diverse fun activities alongside my job. I was part of the Team 9 which raised over £500 for RedR, a charity that offers engineering expertise for disaster relief. It was fun organizing pub quiz and doing weekly bake sale to achieve up to 60% of our funding target. 

At Atkins’ Exeter office, we have a football team that play against other companies on a weekly basis. This provides an open and relaxed atmosphere to meet new friends and strengthen the bond between Atkins’ staff members. Being a football enthusiast, I relish such opportunities to socialise.

We have had other exciting moments like Summer Party, Christmas Party, and visit to the historically significant Exeter undergrounds just to mention a few. It’s been a great experience for me at Atkins.

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