Lucy's interest transforms to a positive future

Civil Engineering is the foundation

Lucy Whitlock has been aiming high since her A-levels. With her interest in renewable energy and passion to become a Survey or Structural Engineer, she knew BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering at Derby was the perfect next step.

Lucy’s interest in civil engineering stemmed from her A-Levels. “One of my teachers suggested that I apply for a scholarship which gave me funding and support during my A-levels,” she explains. “I received support from an Engineering Manager at Siemens. For two years we went over how I could apply for university and what career options would be best. I was torn between architecture and other engineering areas. I then decided on civil engineering, which serves as a powerful passport to various opportunities."

She continues: “I’ve learned about drainage, fluid mechanics (how water flows), geotechnics (soil), structures (physics-based), pure maths, roads and surveying (lasers, drones, land surveying). This course is genuinely the best thing I have done. After studying my degree, I’ll have the option of going into architecture, fire engineering, land surveying or nuclear energy.”


Humber bridge on a cloudy day
Fieldtrip to the Humber Bridge, Hull

Experience that pays off

As well as enjoying learning in the classroom and labs, Lucy has enjoyed the amount of fieldtrips and learning on-site. “In my first year, I went on many trips to places like Darley Weir to do a water survey, Bristol for the “Brunel experience” and to the Humber Bridge in Hull, to name a few,” she says. “I also had the chance to go to a GEO Business conference which is one of the biggest conferences for surveying in Europe. Exploring water surveying started my interest in topographical surveying, which is now something I can actually see myself doing as a career and this has come purely from a trip just to help out.”

Whilst studying at Derby, students get the opportunity to gain work experience, whether this is taking an industrial placement year or through internships. Lucy has taken full advantage of this and applied for paid internships through the university whilst working part-time in the summer. One of the stand-out opportunities was at a volunteer group that strives to lower their CO2 emissions. “This experience allowed me to make contacts with people who have similar interests to me,” she explains. “I also had a part-time job at a company called Greenhatch Group and they have invited me back to work with them for this summer to carry out my placement year. My role is a Trainee Topographical Surveyor where I help senior and junior surveyors conduct their surveys. The work experience so far has been the most rewarding part of my degree.”

Darley Abbey mills surveying
Surveying at Darley Abbey weir

Industry standard facilities 

Civil Engineering students at Derby are based at Markeaton Street which is the main building for Built Environments. The facilities include a concrete lab, a geotechnics lab, a 10m flume room, and a concrete test room adjacent to the concrete lab. And Lucy has made the most of them all during her studies at Derby. “I love bouncing between all the facilities, from testing different types of stresses in concrete and mixers, to a full equipment cupboard of total stations, OS (Ordnance Survey) stations, digital levels, drones and equipment for water surveying.”

Lucy also lists living in Derby as a highlight due to the University’s connections with industry. “The course has a lot of links to local and national organisations. And living in Derby is great. There are so many opportunities around the University that could be used to a student's advantage.”

Bread and butter

“Civil Engineering is the bread and butter of any civilisation,” Lucy says. “We work with the ground, on the ground and above the ground. Everything else is built off that. There are so many jobs needing civil engineers. The job is always in demand because it’s literally holding up the human race.”

Lucy notes the positive experience she has had working with the teaching team, including the lecturers and the technicians. “I have received a lot of help where I needed it. The teaching team know exactly how to handle people when they need to, from learning disabilities to personal issues. I have seen so much patience from the academics on the course and I really couldn’t have asked for better responses when I was in need. They're amazing, quite frankly.”

She shares her best piece of advice for anyone thinking of studying a degree. “Follow and trust your lecturers when they talk about experience and the work they set you,” she says. “Talk to people, don't be afraid of asking questions because you're probably missing out on something. One of the best things I’ve done for my future has been being proactive and networking at almost any opportunity I can.”