Alumnus Christian O’Brien has been named as the New Civil Engineer Client Graduate of the Year. An Assistant Engineer at Bellway Homes, Christian, who graduated with a MEng in Civil Engineering in 2016, was awarded the top honour after impressing an expert panel of industry judges at the New Civil Engineer Graduate Awards ceremony.
Described as “an incredible ambassador for our industry” by the awards’ organisers, Christian beat off competition from over 100 graduates representing 49 different companies to win the title.
And it was double cause of celebration for Surrey alumni at the awards as Irosha Gunatunga, who graduated with a MEng in 2015, was selected as a finalist in the contractor category for her work at BAM Nuttall’s Rail Division.
Christian’s professional achievements since joining Bellway Homes have included delivering local stakeholder engagement for a development which had received 400 objections, and taking responsibility for the engineering project management of residential developments worth £100m.
However it was Christian’s strong commitment to helping others – driven by his own experiences – that set him apart from fellow nominees in the awards, according to the NCE judges.
Raised in a low income, single parent household, he was the first in his family to attend university, and has had to overcome a number of personal setbacks to succeed. Keen to encourage others, he volunteered at a local youth club specialising in troubled and NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) young people. He says one of his proudest moments was preparing and delivering bids to the council to secure local government funding for the club, using the skills he learnt as part of his studies.
He also mentored over 100 university students, and proactively engaged in STEM and outreach activities with Surrey’s Widening Participation and Outreach Department during his final two years at university.
Christian said: “I feel honoured to have won the NCE ‘Client Graduate of the Year’, validating a lot of hard work and adversity since starting my civil engineering journey. However, in typical Surrey and Bellway Homes fashion, the hard work does not stop here and it is business as usual for me in 2018.”