Becoming an engineer takes years of hard work and dedication, and while the rewards may seem intangible at first those who persevere embark on an exciting and challenging career than will take them across the world.We spoke to i3Works Director Terry O’Dowd about his career so far, and what insight he would give to aspiring engineers.Terry was part of the award winning 2012 Olympic Park Project team and has over 30 years experience behind him.
Author: Martin Paver Director at i3Works
Q. What first attracted you to Engineering?
I started out wanting to be an architect, but I soon realised that engineering suited me better as it covered everything I was interested in. Being an engineer gives you lots of opportunities to travel, a huge choice of jobs and it’s very varied. The role involves any number of tasks, from solving technical matters to managing people.
Also the knowledge that engineers create the society we live in makes me feel that my role is important. Without engineers there is no modern world.
Q. Which countries has your work taken you to?
I have worked in Singapore, Malaysia, Oman, US, Middle East, Poland, Denmark and the Isle of White!
Q. How many years did it take to complete your studies?
4 years at University and 4 years apprenticeship/training on the job. There were also two six month periods of work experience in the summer breaks. That meant lots of variety, but the down side was the course was intensive with no time off for holidays.
The professional interview at the end of training comprised a presentation and an essay exam. My structures exam took another 2 years of study and culminated in an 8 hour exam.
Q. How did you stay motivated through your studies?
Most of my fellow students were from overseas and they all worked incredibly hard I’m naturally competitive and that kept me motivated!
Q. Did you ever feel like giving up?
I couldn’t give up as I had invested too much time and effort. I always had a goal. The potential rewards are worth the effort in the end and I have always believed anything worth having needs hard work.
Q. What was your first job after graduation?
I started as a trainee engineer on a construction site. The money was terrible at the start and I had to learn on the job quickly during the day and study in the evening. At 23 I was a site engineer supervising the building of new bridges and roads and because I worked 12 hour days, I slept at night in a caravan parked on the construction site as we were in the middle of nowhere.
Q. What area (if any) do you specialise in, and how did you come to select this specific area?
I specialised in structures design. I started in the design office at 25 and trained on the job whilst helping to design a seismic qualified nuclear facility at Sellafield.
I qualified in structural engineering at 28 and became a senior engineer.
Q. What has been your greatest career achievement so far?
Managing the design of the 2012 Olympic Park. This included 35 new bridges and 15km of new road amongst other things