#ShapeTheWorld with Education and Investment in Talent: Katharine Barker

23 June 2020

“Remember, the day to day engineering tasks that become mundane to an experienced engineer, are exciting and new to a young engineer emarking on a career.” Katharine Barker, Senior Geotechnical Engineer, CampbellReith

Once in a lifetime opportunity – Shaping the Thames

Earlier in my career I worked as a contractor and was heavily involved in logging core for Crossrail. During this period I was also involved in the Emirates Cable Car project and spent a few weekends working overtime to log the cores recovered from a drilling rig set up in the Thames. It was extremely satisfying to be involved in such large infrastructure projects like these – particularly as they will form part of the landscape of London for many years to come.

More recently I was involved in a project to rebuild part of the foreshore area of the River Thames. While it was in a similar location to the Cable Car project, the engineering elements involved were completely different and our solution literally ‘shaped’ this important part of the Thames for the future.

Giving something back is the only way to #ShapeTheWorld

In my previous job, a young woman started as an apprentice for the structural engineering team. I had the opportunity to take her to site with me on a few occasions and I was blown away by her enthusiasm and drive. It made me realise that even the things that seem obvious or mundane to an experienced engineer, are exciting and new to a young engineer embarking on a career.

I’ve had similar encounters with school children who have come to us for a week of work experience. It is at this stage that they can be put off, if not done right. We have a responsibility to show them what we do and why it matters.

Your vision, our world – we can all make a difference

Geotechnical engineering isn’t a career path I specifically chose after university; it was more of a discipline I fell into because I needed a job. But since starting as a graduate engineer there has never been a point where I’ve thought ‘I have taken the wrong job’ or ‘I know all there is to know about this’. We are always learning!

Engineering as a profession has changed the way I look at our developed and developing world. It has taught me valuable life skills, like the art of clear communication and the different ways to manage people and complex projects, which you cannot learn in a classroom or without experience.

I would encourage all young budding engineers to get work experience where you can and if you are someone who loves to learn and experience how to shape our world – then engineering is for you.