Charlotte Hitchens

Why did you decide to study Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Leeds?

My studies at GCSE and A-Level, combined with my interest in the built environment led me to pursue a career in Civil Engineering. The University of Leeds was a clear choice for me because as well as being one of the best universities for engineering in the UK, the teaching and research is also at the forefront of civil engineering knowledge.

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University and why?

The best part of studying civil engineering is the breadth of skills we learn, from fluid mechanics to structural design. We use a basis of mathematical knowledge to bring real situations and structures to life. At the University of Leeds, we are encouraged to excel in all these areas whilst being given the opportunity later on in the course to specialise and take part in forward thinking research in the areas we enjoy the most.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

The City of Leeds is a vibrant and welcoming city, full of students and therefore catering students on every level. Leeds is renowned for its nightlife and music scene, with venues hosting big names and emerging artists all year round. The culture extends to Art Galleries with modern and historic exhibitions, theatre and dance at the Royal Ballet and Stage@Leeds, plus the beautiful English countryside and houses only a short bus ride from the town centre. One of my favourite things about Leeds is the shopping, Leeds has everything from big name brands to vintage stores and they are still building more!

Tell us about your role in the Civil Engineering Society?

During my second year I joined the CivSoc committee as a social secretary, my role was to organise and promote events to our members whilst keeping them informed of interesting events in the industry ran by organisations such as the ICE and the IStructE.Through this I got to know a lot more people on the course, from all year groups. Now in my third year, I am the Co-President of the society. This is a different challenge as I am now involved in everything the society does through managing the rest of the committee. This includes creating partnerships with engineering companies, entering national society competitions, continuing our work with the university to engage pupils through events and supporting our successful sports teams.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far?

In first year we were thrown in at the deep end with a group project to design a wind farm in the nearby area of the North York Moors. Since then I have independently designed a five storey building, from sketches to buildabilty stages using both steel and concrete,. The latest project I have worked on has been based around the real multi-million pound investment in West Yorkshire cycling infrastructure. This involved assessing the options and impacts for a Cycle Super-highway between Leeds and Bradford and designing a cycle bridge in Bradford City centre.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am currently an ICE QUEST scholar and as part of that I am on an internship programme with VINCI (Taylor Woodrow) contractors. I intend to work for them after I graduate and complete their graduate scheme, ultimately I want to become a chartered engineer. In the long term I see myself in a managerial role within a company, perhaps even having my own company. Throughout my career I would also like to continue to play a part in the engineering organisations such as the ICE and IStructE.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Take every opportunity you get to learn more and challenge yourself because that is what university is for, you get given plenty! Ask questions and get involved with group work because you’ll enjoy it more and get more out of the course if you do. Appreciate it whilst it lasts as four years will fly by, also gaining experience in industry is a great way to put what you learn at university to practice and can help with your studies and even getting a graduate job!