As a Structural Engineering Intern with the International Engineering Programme, Prateek Grover explains how his internship has helped him hone his skills and nurture his passion for designing a more sustainable built environment.
I have been interested in construction since a very young age as I was amazed by how the industry built innovative structures that had never been seen before, and I always wanted to be a part of it. Now, given the greater emphasis on sustainability, I am excited to help develop design techniques which ensure every structure has the potential to be self-sustaining.
Optimising my opportunities
I’ve always loved the idea of building things and decided to start studying Civil Engineering while I was living in India, before moving to Ireland and joining Trinity College Dublin (TCD) for my third year. I decided to make this transition and enrolled under the International Engineering Program (IEP) to experience the teaching style and culture of a major European country, with the aim of helping me to develop my skills further both professionally and personally. For the internship semester, I decided to work with Waterman Moylan as I saw an amazing opportunity to learn and was interested in the various mixed-use development projects the company have done, such as College Square, Clerys Quay and Capitol Dock.
During my time at Moylan, I have enjoyed working on a wide variety of projects from restoration works to structural advice and new developments, all of which have different challenges that involve developing ways to conserve the existing and neighbouring structures. One aspect of my job that excites me as a Structural Engineering Intern is learning how various companies in this industry function and how each project is carried out. I am learning about different concepts and their importance to the project almost every day. This includes understanding all the unique procedures required to carry out site investigations that help collate important information for the structural design. It allows me to ask myself in-depth questions and ensure we have all the information about any site constraints, marking up any critical information that will benefit or improve the design process.
Discovering innovative technology
I am currently working on a student accommodation development on Dublin’s Cork Street which involves the demolition of various existing structures. This has required me to assist with a demolition specification to provide the details of each building and ground conditions for the tender, further to the responsibilities and safety protocols for the contractor. Because the site is surrounded by neighbouring developments, I was also tasked with checking if any of the boundary walls would require underpinning based on the proposed levels. Once I had this information, I could then prepare the markups for the boundary walls, which included the excavation levels and proposed solutions. I use design software such as Revit and AutoCAD in my day-to-day work, but have also learnt how to use the Autodesk Robot and Tedd analysis software, for which my teammates have patiently explained everything to me so I am able to complete the job properly. Being able to use software like this has been particularly helpful when modelling a block on the Northwood Avenue mixed-use scheme in Dublin, as it then allowed me to develop the pile-load schedule.
Anyone considering a career in engineering should have a good think about their interests in this industry and what they would hope to achieve so that you can select the most interesting modules which will make it easier and it will be more fun to study. My internship has helped me to understand some very important aspects of the construction industry and inspired me to get more involved in design using new technologies such as 3D printing and modular construction. With this knowledge, I like the idea of designing future structures with innovative materials that ensure simplicity, safety and low maintenance, all of which will also help to reduce the amount of waste that the industry produces.
When it comes to your early education, such as college, I think it’s important to try and focus on the basic knowledge and concepts of the discipline you are most interested in as this will benefit you in the long run. I would advise you not to worry if you’ll be able to keep up with future trends and learning new techniques because, if you have a good understanding of the basic concepts, tackling new theories and learning how to use certain software won’t be too hard. I also wish I’d got more involved in extra-curricular activities during this period of my life because it really helps enhance your skills in things like time management, presentation and reporting, which will greatly benefit you professionally.