Testimonial: Heba Ben Amer

Heba Ben Amer – Structural Engineer, Mott Macdonald

Heba attended Constructionarium in 2013 with UCL and built the Milau Viaduct.

I attended Constructionarium at the end of my second year studying a Civil Engineering Integrated Masters Degree at UCL.  Everything I had done up until then had been theory based so it was great to get some practical experience of life on site.  We took on the Milau Viaduct project and our group picked names out of a hat to allocate roles so I started off as Assistant Construction Manager.  The first day was a disaster!  We couldn’t survey properly, we had problems with setting out and the pressure was on – this was more real than anything we had done at university.  At the end of the first day when we reported back to the client, we knew that we needed to step up, learn quickly from our mistakes and bounce back without being demotivated.  We switched team roles around and I was promoted to Construction Manager.  As the week went on, we learnt more and improved every day until we actually ended up being the first team to finish.

Constructionarium gave me hands on experience that I don’t think I would have gained elsewhere.  As a student or graduate when you do get site experience you don’t normally get to do the tasks yourself; you might watch a steel fixer at work on site but you won’t actually get the chance to tie the rebar.  At Constructionarium you aren’t watching you are doing which for me really made a difference.

At the time I attended Constructionarium, although I was studying engineering I was thinking about a career in finance.  My week on site opened my mind to the opportunities in the engineering sector and definitely influenced my career choices.  It also gave me an edge when job hunting as it set me out from the crowd – employers found it interesting and it was good to have something relevant to discuss in interviews.  

After graduating my first job was in a design office on site and my experience at Constructionarium gave me a head start and some background knowledge of the basics, practical things like steel fixing and surveying.  Five years into my career I understand how important it is to understand the construction side of design – designing a structure is very different from actually making it happen structurally and good design engineers should know how to build something as well as design it.