What do you think when you hear the word construction?

I wouldn't be surprised if what springs to mind is the image of a load of blokes, sat on a muddy building site, simply smoking the day away.

Or possibly you imagine a guy on some scaffolding yelling at passers-by, or worse still things toppling over, like cranes, scaffolding or buildings? 

To be honest, that's exactly what I would have said five years ago, before I got involved with the industry. These images that the majority of us think of are what the media portrays about construction, but in my experience it couldn't be further from the truth!

Modern, large scale construction is cleaner, safer and more diverse than you think. Yes you'll still get a bit muddy if you're on site and it rains (there's not much that can be done about that!) but you'll also be involved in dynamic, exciting projects, every day will be different  and there will be challenges aplenty. 

Seeing the bigger picture

My first real experience of construction was during my second year of university when I visited Terminal 2B at Heathrow Airport. After a year of studying design management I had a greater appreciation of how complex projects were.

Our studies had covered everything from the basic physics of structures to the history of architecture to law in construction to how to manage, build and lead teams of different people. This was the first time I had seen what that meant on a real site and it was by no means a small project!

These people had to work together to create a building that not only worked but met the cost and quality requirements and was delivered on time for the client.

It was the first time that it really sunk in for me that there was so much more to construction than the building work that we see as we walk down the street.

Going 3D with computers

There had been months of work spent designing the building on computers, and 3D imaging was used to check that the building worked as it needed to; that each component fit and to demonstrate to the client and the site team how the building would be put together.

As the airport was live this early stage work was vital, if any rubbish blew onto the runway or an accident occurred it could prevent thousands of people flying out of the country and cost millions of pounds.

Deliveries also had to be carefully scheduled and materials held off site and brought on as needed to minimise disruption.

That visit was the first time I knew that construction was the right industry for me and my experiences since have further confirmed this.

Now I’m an assistant engineer for a major contractor and my day to day work can be anything, from holding meetings with clients and looking at how our site impacts on the environment, to talking to foremen on site to find out where they’ll be working over the next few days and how it might impact other areas of the job.