Emily Alfred


Degree at Edinburgh Napier MEng Civil Engineering and Transportation
Graduation date 2013
Role title Roadworks Site Engineer
Organisation Transport Scotland


What was Emily’s experience at Edinburgh Napier University?

Emily decided to study at Edinburgh Napier University because of:

  • The breadth and variety of the course because these allow graduates to pursue different career paths after graduation
  • The degree of independence that the course offered
  • Opportunities to develop personally as well as learn about a subject on the course
  • The quality of resources such as the Jack Kilby Centre
  • The friendly and approachable staff
  • Edinburgh Napier’s reputation as a university with one of the highest graduate employability rates in the UK

What is Emily doing now and what has been your experience of working in industry since you left University?

Emily is now working as a Site Engineer on the Queensferry Crossing for the road network. As she works for the Client (Transport Scotland), her role involves monitoring the construction of the works on site to ensure compliance with the Employer’s Requirements. Emily is gaining valuable experience on the project and enjoys the mix of working in the office and outside throughout the week.

Apart from her daily routine, Emily gets involved with the Communities and Engagement side of the project where she provides presentations and leads site tours.

Upon completion of the project, Emily will return to the Transport Scotland head office in Glasgow to gain further experience in her goal towards becoming a Chartered Engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers.

How did Emily get to this position when she left university and what are her ambitions for the future?

Emily was always interested in physics, and used to want to be a pilot. However, she was keen to take a degree course that wouldn’t force her to specialise too early. This would allow her to change direction should she want to do so.

Emily began her university experience in Ireland. There she studied for three years for an ordinary degree. As part of Emily’s course in Ireland she joined a placement scheme which gave her six weeks of experience with JBA Consultancy. She found this to be helpful and important for her course. Emily recommends that other students undertake a placement whilst at university to help prepare for their future careers.

Emily then moved to Edinburgh Napier University for another two years to obtain her honours degree. One year later she graduated with an MEng. The MEng course at Edinburgh Napier allowed Emily to try out lots of different types of Civil Engineering before she narrowed down her options. As she progressed through her studies, Emily developed a specialist interest in environmental engineering and transportation. After graduation, Emily was lucky to receive a job offer at an Edinburgh based Renewable Energy company where she spent a year as a Project Engineer for small Wind Turbine Development. Whilst this year was extremely beneficial, Emily decided to apply for the Graduate Training Programme with Transport Scotland to pursue a career in Transportation. Emily now works on the new Queensferry Crossing as a Site Engineer for the road works on the south of the bridge.

What was Emily’s experience as a woman on an engineering degree course?

Since she has brothers, Emily grew up around boys. She always felt encouraged as much as they were to do what she wanted in terms of education and career choices.

Emily never felt like she was treated differently for being female in a class cohort that was predominantly male (although she was surprised how few women were on her course). She believes that it is advantageous to work in mixed teams. This encourages a full range of perspectives on a project.

What advice would Emily give to women wanting to work in engineering?

Emily has a number of recommendations for women who would like to work in engineering. These include:

  • Gaining some relevant work experience, for example by undertaking summer work in preparation for a degree in this area, or organising a placement with a company.
  • Enhancing your professional visibility by letting companies know about the projects on which you are working, such as your final year project. You could, for example, offer to share your dissertation, or the data on which your research is based.
  • Becoming involved in your professional body, such as the Institute of Civil Engineers.