All our divisions employ a number of graduates every year. This year our South East Division was lucky to employ Luke, who joined Knights Brown as a graduate engineer in May 2017. Here is his report on his first six months on site.
My name is Luke and I studied Civil Engineering at the University of Greenwich achieving a 2:1.
I first heard of Knights Brown when I attended a graduate scheme presentation, which was held during a lecture in February 2017. Having listened to the presentation and learnt about their core values, Knights Brown seemed like the type of company I wanted to work for after I graduated.
My final exam was on the 15 May 2017 and I started my employment with Knights Brown as a graduate engineer one week later, on 22 May 2017.
I work for the South East Division and the first project I was based on was the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm project in Newhaven, East Sussex. This project included the installation of a 60,000-litre fuel store and pumps along with two Davit crane bases. The key works on site included excavations, piling mat, piles, pile caps, ground beams, structural slabs, mezzanine floor and services locating.
What I found particularly interesting was the precision engineering and the importance to get this element correct. We installed cross-bracing between 44-metre-deep piles, which needed to be painted to ensure that the steel was protected against corrosion, as it was left open to sea air and water. Whilst working upon this project I found that the practical knowledge that I gained from lectures at university came into use on an everyday basis.
I primarily worked with project manager, Colin, who helped me out and pointed me in the right direction whilst also letting me do my own thing and giving me a good kick if I ever fell behind with my work!
To follow are examples of typical challenges that I came across whilst working at Rampion: piling, underground services, steel fixers, tonnage in schedule/going through drawings, concrete gang, cover to steel cages, concrete pump, concrete with a bad water ratio, surveying, set up at beginning of the job and customer relations.
The mornings are usually the most hectic part of an engineer’s day, so you need to ensure that you are punctual. They consist of setting lasers from the previous day’s work to be continued; this is quite a simple task but can be quite time consuming. Setting out is a major part of a site engineer’s job specification although, as a site engineer this will not be your only responsibility. You will be asked to chip in with many other tasks. Work elements need to be planned and executed in the morning to allow sufficient time to plan your day and check what everyone needs for the day’s work.
A large part of my daily workload is to interpret design drawings before any work on site starts. I am responsible for understanding what the drawings are displaying and our customer’s requirements. Once I have decided that I am confident with what I am building, the next challenge is for me to configure how the operatives on the ground are going to construct it whilst paying attention to the finer details.
Knowing what needs to happen next and having all the correct information for when the operatives start their next task is also very important; an engineer always needs to be three steps ahead of anybody else.
You will quickly learn, when working with designers, about the art of diplomacy. Part of the engineer’s job is to spot errors and then raise them with the design team. It is important to try and find any errors as quickly as possible so that questions are raised before the works have commenced, rather than during construction, which can cause issues and delays.
As an engineer, you will find that every person from every trade will ask you 100 questions per day. It is important that you can answer these questions with minimal delay as you will find everyone loves to blame an engineer for a delay. You will also find that most of your day will be spent outdoors on site, a lot of that time will be spent solving problems, which either the operatives or the foreman come across. Being tasked with this is the most interesting and fulfilling part of my day.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Knights Brown so far, and am looking forward to future projects.
As well as graduates, Knights Brown also takes on summer placement students. Read about Isabel’s experience with our South East Division.