Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Be Inspired & Inspire Others

What have you got in mind this year?

Healthier Lifestyle… Work harder … Lose weight… Get a job… Get promoted… Pay rise… Make more friends? We all welcome the New Year in our own way. We set Goals … and higher hopes and expectations just follow. January is a funny time as some of you are very trying to focus on exams when others are looking for opportunities to develop.

But I am taking this chance to reflect on myself. Where I stand and how I can improve. And this time I am ready to

Be inspired and inspire others.

First of all I would like to thank Claire Gott for agreeing to give a quick insight into her views about Engineering and what it is like to be a role model for young engineers.

Claire is an exceptional young female engineer who has witnessed several achievements in a very short course of time. She graduated from the University of Southampton in year 2010 and has been working as Graduate Structural Engineer at WSP UK. The Co-founder of the Cameroon Catalyst has also been winner of the NCE Graduate of the year 2011, finalist of the WISE excellence Award 2011 and IStructE Young Structural Engineer International Design Competition 2011. She religiously contributes to the industry as part of the Institutional board representative for IStructE and Green Construction Board promotional working group, Imagineering, WSP Launchpad school engagement scheme and STEMnet ambassador.

Claire Gott has all the qualities for being the role model for the coming generation and therefore the best person to ask all the right questions. That’s exactly what I did.

1.                  With such an impressive list of achievements – it must be had to choose but can you share what you are most proud of so far in your life?

Helping lead the Cameroon Catalyst team to successfully deliver the medical and educational center in Bambouti, Cameroon in 2010 and seeing the continued positive impact that the charity is still having on the lives of hundreds of villagers.

2.                  Most people don’t show courage to step forward and take challenges in life. Was there anyone who encouraged you to take the initiative or was it entirely your decision to take the part in the competitions mentioned above?

From the age of 16, when I helped rebuild an orphanage in Tanzania, I decided that I wanted a career where I could make a difference and I grabbed every opportunity presented to me to gain a better understanding of how I could achieve this.

3.                  Everyone has a role model. Who do you look up to in the industry? Who is your inspiration?

My appointment on the Green Construction Board Promotional Working group last year made me realise that there are a great number of role models in our industry who are pushing the boundaries and trying to make a difference and I am privileged to sit alongside them and learn from them.

4.                  As we can see you enjoy challenges. So what have you planned next?

I flew out to Cameroon last August to review the last three projects that we (Cameroon Catalyst) have constructed. I am now working alongside Architecture Sans Frontieres who will be accompanying us to help assess the positive impact of our contribution within Cameroon and help identify where we should focus our efforts next.

5.                  From your personal experience what do you think are the requirements of current industry from new generation of engineers?
It’s not just about technical skills anymore; clients want more value for their money, and so young engineers are learning that the development of management and communication skills and an understanding of the commercial aspects are just as important.

6.                  How do you expect the construction industry to change over the course of your career?

The industry has more of a focus on exploring and applying sustainable concepts and technologies to tackle the problems associated with energy consumption and carbon emissions in the built environment. However, our challenge for the future and something we must address soon is how we use and promote these developments to achieve greater harmony between the natural and built environments on a global scale for all parties involved.

7.                  So what is your advice to our friends currently seeking / or will be seeking an opportunity in the near future?

Make the most of every opportunity that is thrown your way; you never know how it may impact your career for the better, and don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements; companies are looking for confident and passionate engineers.

It’s amazing how through simple communication we can learn from others. I wish good luck to Claire for her future plans and many more achievements.

Engineering is an interesting field – we engineers are even more interesting. Creative… Always seeking new challenges… Solving problems…

We have the ability to Engineer futures. So keep your hopes high.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Ethical challenges: the conflict between design brief and sustainable principles

Hi All! I am going to use today's post as a learning session. In my previous post i mentioned taking part in the ICE Apprentice competition. It required writing essay on the subject of ethical challenges. I wrote the following. I am willing to learn so please read and share your opinion about the subject.

Ethical challenges: the conflict between design brief and sustainable principles

Rapid transition from rural to urban habitat demands modern cities that can fulfill the most complex manifestation of human activities - in commerce, finance, service industries and cultural enterprises. Factors as such define client’s requirements including expectations of high living standards, financial growth, space utilisation and aesthetics.

Whether to include sustainable principles or not and the extent of its application tends to vary between sectors, depending on the investors’ priorities. E.g. private owners dictate their requirements depending on their budgets and planning constraints whereas, public sector shows wider interest in both capital investment and whole-life costs. In contrast a developer’s attitude is driven by the expectations of their target market demanding flexibility for alterations by its occupants leading to uncertainty in effectiveness of sustainable design. Therefore, the need to incorporate and appreciate sustainable principles within the design brief can never be overemphasised.

Sustainability principles such as Eco-design, green buildings and triple bottom line, which were merely catchy phrases, have now been developed into integrated strategic framework in order to lessen the strain on the world’s natural resources. These needs have also been identified at national and corporate levels in form of “Securing the future – the UK Sustainable Development Strategy” and “Corporate Citizenship” respectively, ensuring the establishment of benchmarks for values and policies. However, can it be assumed that the current guidelines and regulations are sufficient or do we need a more thorough approach to ensure that an ethically responsible decision is made during the design process? Is there a scope for shifting design focus to embrace ethical standard of care?

A design brief often conflicts with the sustainable principles when the criteria are to be justified solely against economic factors. Also, codes, regulations and guidance in their current form simply provide minimal criteria. Therefore an ethical responsibility from a designer’s perspective becomes core for engineering design solutions to achieve a balance between the two. A holistic approach should be adopted to ensure economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. When responding to the call for sustainable development, designers should opt out costly technological features with creative smart solutions. E.g. inclusion of sensible choice of construction methodologies, responsible sourcing of the materials, utilising material properties (exposed concrete soffits), mass design, renewable energy resources (daylight, natural ventilation), passive design methods, etc. have the tendency to eliminate negative environmental impacts simply through skilful sensitive design. Where the investors are keen to explore innovative long-terms solutions, decisions should be made through considerate evaluation and optimisation of systems in order to minimise possible financial risks emerging due to departure from traditional mode of practice.

It can be assumed that advancement in technology along with a greater availability of durable environmental materials will lower the capital cost of sustainable elements encouraging Eco-efficient designs in the future. Design for Sustainability strategies (DfS) and codes should be interlinked with more stringent regulations introducing penalties and promoting forms of incentives such as lower taxes to enforce sustainable action in design. Otherwise, in the foreseeable future, these principles will remain largely in conflict with design due to economic constraints.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Being a novice in the construction field it’s not that easy to achieve what you desire. If you feeling that it’s just impossible to … nail your goals or even to secure your first chance then STOP and THINK AGAIN. Don’t even think of giving up just because you’re facing difficulties and failures! If you seriously want to drop something then let it be the idea of backing off.  

Something interesting I stole from Benjamin Frempong-Mensah, a graduate fellow on the LinkedIn Group GradEng Network.

To every sag (recession) there will be an equal and opposite crest (boom).”

Truuuuueeee… I definitely agree with him. Just because there are hurdles ahead doesn’t mean there is no scope to grow and develop your profile. There were two recent opportunities to show what you can do different than others, which I m sure a lot of you have missed.
1.     ICE Apprentice 2012
2.     IStructE Bridge Design Competition for an iconic bridge in Castlemeads, Gloucester.

It does not matter whether you win or not. Not at all! It’s no big deal if you lost! What does matter is that you take that you grab every chance that is thrown in front of you. You WIN the very second You TRY.

Another stolen quote (don’t even know whose is it)
“Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”

When you try and fail – you learn and improve. And that makes you different – that’s shows you have the courage to step ahead. I did have a go at the competitions I mentioned above – and it helped me learn what I lack and off course the standard that today’s market holds. Honestly speaking it was a totally random email I received from IStructE about (Gloucester bridge) competition … I popped at my colleagues / now good friends Niri Arambepola, Nicoletta Galluzi and Antony Chiha… and there we were designing an iconic structure At least we tried! [I will post our submission here in my next blog]

It’s a lot easier when you tell yourself, there is always a next time! And next time it can be you.

I am going to emphasize the importance of standing out like Glen Cooper did, in his last post “Engineering Graduates – Please Wait Here. No Crossing”

It’s about time you plan ahead and what you need is a strategy that WORKS!!!!! And yes the key here is for the strategy to work for you, you need to work on it – develop it and test it. I do sometime fell into the trap myself of believing I can do it or I will do it.
No! No! No!!!!!!

My way is to compete! For fun! To see what I am capable of! To get noticed! To make new friends! And sometimes win as well :P
Find Yours!

Reason behind this post is to make sure that YOU my friends do not give up trying finding your way forward. Times are hard but you need to believe in yourself and keep trying and the success will be yours.  

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A blind leading another blind!

The above statement is something what my director once told me when I was firing questions at a colleague at work. At that time I was the blind who was following the path chosen for me but today I experienced leading others (hopefully not at the wrong path).

I officially stepped into the world of INSPIRING THE YOUTH.

 So I guess it’s a milestone achieved another one added to the things I want to keep doing in life. Surprising yet interesting how the next generation is a lot more focused and determined as compared to we were at their age.  I mentored some GCSE / A-level students aiming to develop a career in Engineering. Just an afternoon and they showed some very impressive attributes
·      The crave to learn about new things
·      Not just absorbing new information but the ability to use it
·      Confidence to speak up and share their thoughts
·      Good sketching skills

A simple puzzle that people take years to solve they taught me in one afternoon. ENGINEERING is not crunching numbers it’s the development of an idea into something more INTERESTING. No they didn’t tell me how to do my job but they definitely showed me the thirst of knowledge – desire to do something and I am looking forward to see more of the young ones off course for very selfish reason i.e. STAYING MOTIVATED.