Civil Engineering Personal Statement (with Foundation Year)

Structure has an efficiency and practicality that is, in itself, quite beautiful. For all structures - be it a bridge, underground tunnel or stadium, the laws of physics and fundamental structural concepts must be obeyed.

For me, civil engineering is the perfect blend of aesthetics and effectiveness, that still allows for creativity albeit with a rigid, logical soundness still being dominant.

A substantial factor in my choice of civil engineering is my interest in the actual profession; a profession I believe to be one of the most gratifying in the world. Unlike many careers, it is a profession where you get to see your hard work realised in physical form.

Although I am not studying A-Level maths, I have nonetheless developed my mathematical skills by learning calculus with a tutor. In physics, I gained the appreciation for maths as a tool for deriving accurate predictions from our observations, such as the near-perfect estimation of planetary motion from formulae.

Also, having tutored GCSE students in maths and science for two years, I also have confidence in my foundation maths skills. I started to explore the subject with a highly recommended book, "Structures: Or why things don't fall down" by J.E. Gordon.

This book is great at quintessentially explaining concepts about structures and materials. In a particularly interesting chapter, Gordon compares the Achilles tendon to different metals.

He points out that the maximum tensile stress per unit mass of the tendon is higher than most metals, which I found intriguing and helped me realise the wide breadth of engineering applications.

Whilst seeking civil engineering opportunities, I came across an ICE workshop about the London 2012 Olympic stadia, it covered the thoughts behind the decisions of the engineers that had to be made to provide a 'legacy'. A big part of this 'legacy' is environmental sustainability, which is what inspired me to chose this topic for my EPQ.

The challenges included the transport expansions undertaken by TfL engineers to keep London moving during the influx of tourists and spectators.

Additionally, the team faced one of the biggest structural challenges in history, producing a stadium which could be reduced from 115,000 spectators to 50,000 after the Olympics were finished.

This resulted in an imaginative, modular design which allowed for removal of parts of the stadium to suit the needs of any event. After listening to these problems (and many others) and their ingenious solutions I was convinced that civil engineering is the career for me.

After months of chasing various leads, I managed to secure a work experience placement at the Irish building and planning management firm, Gilbert Ash. There I gained a broad insight into the career of a civil engineer as well as those who work around one such as surveyors, project managers, and architects.

I had the privilege of being involved with a project of theirs in the construction of a state-of-the-art drama school.

After a week of shadowing and note-taking from very knowledgeable engineers on-site, I had a week in their London office where I started appreciating the sheer number of roles that are involved for any structure to come to existence.

My experiences have shown me the necessity of independence in this career. I have honed this skill through Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition, where I had the responsibility of navigating the team to the destination efficiently, avoiding extra hours of hiking. I am excited by the prospect of studying civil engineering and believe that I have the skills to allow me to succeed in the course.

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I didn't do maths A-level so I applied to foundation courses.


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