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Grace Wright - Project Engineer - Structural

What attracted you to a career in engineering, and to your specific discipline?

Maths was always my favourite subject throughout school, so I knew I wanted a career that focused on this. I was attracted to engineering as my dad and grandad both worked in the construction industry.

Job satisfaction is very important to me, so to deliver a finished product that would benefit others rather than just carry out ‘numbers on paper' really appealed to me. Structural Engineering was an obvious decision, as I have always admired structures and the way they are formed and held together.

What made you choose Rolton Group?

I chose Rolton Group because of the opportunities they have offered others and I felt they would support me in developing my career. Rolton Group had me working on projects and made me feel like part of the team from day one.

What was your interview and selection process with Rolton Group like?

I didn’t actually have a traditional interview, I was introduced to David Rolton who put me in contact with the female engineers so I could get a better understanding of what it was like to be a woman in engineering. I was then offered a summer placement after my first year of university by Peter Rolton. As the placement came to end, Peter offered to sponsor me for the remainder of my undergraduate degree whilst working during my Christmas and summer holidays. Following the completion of my undergraduate degree, Rolton Group are now sponsoring me to study my Master’s in Structural Engineering and Practice part-time at the University of Birmingham.

Could you describe what your working day usually consists of?

As Rolton Group work on a variety of projects, my working day can change depending on my current projects. I could be involved with anything from liaising with architects and contractors to designing the superstructure for a housing development. I could also be designing a steel structure for an office block or surveying an existing structural arrangement for alterations. Rolton Group are a multi-disciplinary consultancy, and this has allowed me to work in other disciplines and expand my knowledge as an engineer. Most recently I carried out a roof drainage assessment for a large automotive company.

What do you find most challenging in your role?

Applying the knowledge from university into real life situations can be a challenge. At university, it was very rare that you would find any issues in a project brief, but in real life, a project may not be as simple as it first seems and the end result may not have been easily predicted at the start. Working on multiple projects and achieving their deadlines has been something I have found challenging but with the help from my managers and our external career development consultant it has been something I have been able to cope with and improve upon.

How would you describe the working culture in your office?

A very friendly atmosphere, I especially enjoy the amount of young people in the office. We all are able to balance having a joke or chat along with our work and as a team, we regularly go out for a lunchtime pizza. I also appreciate how much the Directors look out for us, Peter and I will often chat about how Northampton Saints played at the weekend.

What are you career aspirations?

I want to become a Chartered Structural Engineer and work my way up to become an Associate Director of Rolton Group.

How is Rolton Group helping you to achieve these goals?

I have been able to work on a variety of projects, some small scale and some larger, which has allowed me to put my knowledge to the test and furthered my learning. There is an external career development consultant who I meet with to discuss what my career goals are and how I would like to progress within Rolton Group. We meet every six months to ensure that I am on the right track to achieving my goals.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their career in the engineering/built environment industry?

Try to look for placements out of term time, even if you may only be there for a short period of time you may get something more. Everyone in this industry is always willing to answer questions to guide you in the right direction or introduce you to people who may be relevant, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Grace has now completed the Rolton Group Graduate Scheme