Name: Gail McEwen Eng-Tech MICE
Location: Central Scotland
Employer: I & H Brown LTD
Situation at the time of taking the course: At the time of taking the course I was a Trainee Site Engineer. My role involved supporting and aiding the Site Engineers with their duties ie Surveying, Setting Out etc. I had no construction related qualifications and was not studying at the time. I was working to gain some experience before starting college. I had two years’ experience Plant Operating on Civil sites in Australia and two months experience as a trainee Engineer in the UK.
Current situation: I am currently working as a Site Engineer. My role includes surveying, setting out, producing models/drawings, establishing engineering solutions to site problems and managing quality systems. I also take on Site Agent responsibilities which include managing costs, preparing forecasts, producing programmes, liaising with public authorities/clients & manage less experienced Engineers.
Gail’s experience of the course: The 5 day setting out course was adjusted to suit all levels of experience. There were absolute beginners and people with a bit more experience. Being a beginner at the time, I learned the basics and the fundamentals about Site Engineering. It made me learn how to set out and survey an area without relying on GPS/VRS systems. I learned not only how to do the tasks required of a Site Engineer, but how to do it mathematically thus gaining a deep understanding of what I was doing.
The course allowed me gain the knowledge I needed to apply for an HNC college course. It also developed my ability to work unsupervised on site. After the course I got to work on a section of the project without another Site Engineer helping me. I noticed that I had a bit more knowledge about the fundamentals of site engineering, than other Trainee Engineers who hadn’t attended the course.
Once I completed the training I was able to set profile boards and batter rails, establish stations around site (without relying on GPS), to check that equipment such as dumpy level was fit for use (two peg test), how to carry out a level survey and how to use a total station (including how to set it up!).
Prior to the course I lacked any confidence at all in my ability to be a Site Engineer. The thought of working unsupervised on site was daunting. After the course (and taking to the trainer and the other course delegates about their personal site experiences) I felt I had the ability to carry out tasks on site but also felt more mentally prepared.
The course made me immediately more valuable to my employer because I was able to be put on site on my own rather than being “buddied up” with another Engineer.
These days I get the opportunity to pass my skills on, because new trainees and graduates to the company are sometimes placed with me, so they can learn the ropes. I am also a mentor to a trainee and a delegated Engineer through the ICE I-Eng training scheme for another Engineer. I am a STEM ambassador and attend school fares etc to promote Engineering to the next generation, give talks/presentations at Equate Scotland events for younger female Engineers just starting out. I also gave a speech at the Scottish Parliament cross party group on construction about my experiences to promote Engineering to the younger generation.
I keep the course handouts in my drawer to refer back to from time to time.
The course didn’t just give me the knowledge and skills for setting out. I also got a lot from one to one conversations I had with the trainer, Saffron. I got the chance to ask questions about what it was like to work on site as a qualified Engineer, how to handle work load, how to deal with difficult personalities and how to excel in the role. I genuinely learned so much more from Saffron than just the set course content.
Attending the course gave my career a real boost! The course, combines with my site experience boosted my knowledge and confidence. This was demonstrated to my employer when I went back to work after attending the course a more competent and confident Engineer.
One of the most useful things I learnt of the course was the the traverse task. Traverseing is commonly done with a GNNS on IHB site so not a lot of thinking goes into what it is you are doing. The course allowed me to understand how to do this without relying on GNNS equipment and therefore made me learn why and how it is done mathematically.
I often recommend this course not only to people within my own organisation but to others such as subcontractors and people I meet through the events I attend. The course is so effective because the the trainer is an Engineer, not just someone who read a book about. She was excellent at delivering the course and answering questions from the group.