Meet Our Apprentices – Lewis Bell

Lewis Bell – 19, Edinburgh

What apprenticeship programme are you on at the college?
“At college, I am studying NC Civil Engineering year 2 – day release.”

Who is your employer? What do you day to day with them?
“I am currently employed by the engineering consultancy WSP|Parsons Brinkerhoff. I’m in the structures team and started with the company in September 2014. I began by learning all the basics to do with 2D and 3D modelling, progressing to detailing individual components and fixings for structural elements.

“I now have enough experience to work on my own initiative and make decisions based on information I have received from engineers. As part of my tasks I may be required to visit sites under an engineer’s supervision – this is a brilliant way to understand the relationship between the work I do in the office and the construction projects. It also gives me much more of an understanding on how they construct details on site and allows me to incorporate this knowledge into my work in the office.”

Why did you choose the apprenticeship?
“I chose this apprenticeship because I believe it is a good way to get into the industry. It appealed to me because I would still be furthering my education and at the same time progressing my career.”

What would you say about the experience so far? What’s been the highlight?
“It’s been one of constant learning, discovering new skills, meeting interesting people and having a good laugh along the way. Becoming a valuable member of a very hardworking, respected and enthusiastic team is definitely my high point. They also understand the work-life balance where we can have fun whilst achieving great things.”

What have you achieved on the course?
“I’ve definitely got a real insight into what happens across many other disciplines. In work I am predominantly in the structures team and this allows me to understand how different components will interact and how everything to do with a building works in harmony.

“I have learnt a lot about actually designing structural elements like foundations for columns and walls. We are currently starting to go into more detail about beams and how to take into account forces acting on them, which is very interesting.”

What are your ambitions for the future?
“For the future, I hope to progress my career as far as possible. I would like to go to university and obtain a degree to allow me to progress down a more design focused route and aspire to one day gain my chartership. Maybe even have a secondment overseas for a few months, which through most companies I think can be negotiated.”

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about doing an apprenticeship?
“An apprenticeship is a perfect way to gain the experience that is vital to learning about the industry, as well as the knowledge that allows you to put what you learn in the classroom into practice. You will meet some great people and make new friends. I also think the onus is on the person to find the right company for them – one that shares the same beliefs in terms of career progression and other professional aspirations.”

“I think when you work hard and contribute to the team you will be rewarded. You are never brushed aside and you are always considered for any job no matter the difficulty. You are trusted to meet deadlines and issue drawings but, if needed, the help is given to you.”