Luke Williamson’s Civil Engineering Placement Year Blog5th August 2022
One of the best decisions I have ever made.
I am a student studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Surrey, I had completed two years of my course before I decided to begin a placement year with Frankham. My 2nd year of university was heavily disrupted due to COVID-19 and I knew I needed a break from it, so when the opportunity for a placement year came along, I chose to take it. I didn’t really have any idea what I was looking for, what to expect, or if I was making the right decision at all. I was referred to Frankham purely by chance and so my employment was a leap of faith on my part and the company’s. Looking back on the year I have worked here I can now say with certainty that it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I have finished my placement much more experienced in different areas of civil engineering.
I have spent time on site, in the office carrying out calculations and drawing up diagrams on AutoCAD. I am someone who enjoys a more hands-on approach to learning, but I had very little exposure to this type of work at the time, since then I have worked on a number of different rail engineering projects, inspecting different elements of stations across southern England.
One of the first projects I worked on was a repair for a steel staircase stringer. I was to draw up the stringer and repair method on AutoCAD and fill out a design report for the repair. It was interesting to be introduced to two aspects of the business that I had not explored at university. Even with no experience, I was given the freedom to create a repair method for this project, which was interesting, but challenging as it was something very new to me. This project helped build my confidence a lot which was important to me in the months following it.
Being able to identify potential structural defects.
One of my main roles was as a reactive rail engineer undertaking hidden critical examinations. This project included testing and examining the condition of such elements and recommending repairs. It was my responsibility on site to test, using mainly a hammer or screwdriver, the condition of timber, steel, cast iron or concrete members to station canopies, footbridges, and platforms. Through my time on the project, I inspected elements in a range of different conditions, some elements were in pristine condition, others may be rotten or severely corroded. Being able to identify potential structural defects and what they are caused by is one of the many skills I have developed through my time at Frankham.
I took part in a Safety Stand Up video for a newsletter between Network Rail and different rail companies.
The video was comprised of a collection of rail workers from different companies holding up a sign with a personal note describing what safety means to them. The aim of the video was to spread ideas for what rail workers find to be important for them to feel safe. Frankham were asked to get involved, and so I participated in this, although unfortunately I did not make the final video.
I would urge anyone considering a placement year to take the opportunity, and Frankham Consultancy Group is an excellent place to do so.
The past year working at Frankham has been a real challenge, and I have really enjoyed it. I was not expecting anywhere near the level of responsibility that has been placed on me during my time here. I have learned a lot and gained valuable experience in the industry, my confidence has grown tremendously, and I have proved to myself that I can put into practice much of what I have learned in my studies. It has been great preparation for my career and a very rewarding experience, I would urge anyone considering a placement year to take the opportunity, and Frankham Consultancy Group is an excellent place to do so.