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My Surrey Civil Selfie – Ben Elphick

Our Civil Engineering alumni go on to work on projects that provide the vital infrastructure for our cities. Ben Elphick – a graduate of Surrey's MEng Civil Engineering programme – sent us his ‘Surrey Civil Selfie’ from inside a shaft where works are being carried out as part of the Thames Water Asset Management Program.

“Having graduated from Surrey earlier this year, I’m now employed as a site engineer for Skansa working on the inspection and maintenance of raw water tunnels all around the Capital. In this picture I’m in a 50 metre deep shaft under London: what makes the job special is that we work on tunnels which the vast majority of people have no idea exist and even fewer get to see at first hand.


The Thames Water Asset Management Program 6 (AMP6) project involves a huge collaboration of companies in an area of engineering I’m not familiar with – so there’s been a steep, fast learning curve.


Unlike many civil engineering projects I have worked on, the majority of works in this project are led by a specialist subcontractor, and I am on site to facilitate the works on behalf of the principle contractor. This has really developed my management skills and, because I’m set back from the front line of the works, given me a much better insight into how a project is managed.


I would advise anyone thinking about pursuing a career in civil engineering to try to secure as many placements and internships as possible. The University of Surrey is fairly unique in offering the Surrey ICE scholarship which enables students to be sponsored by an organisation, gain work experience with them and, ultimately, a job on graduating. However if you are unsure about a scholarship, there are lots of companies which take summer and year placement students, enabling you to see if civil engineering is right for you.


If I could work on any civil engineering project, High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) definitely appeals as one of the largest infrastructure projects out there. However equally - although now unlikely - I would love to get involved in Boris Island, the proposed Thames Estuary Airport, because it encompasses so many different disciplines, from the construction of the airport and island itself to rail and road links and many more.


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