Gaining Experience

We caught up with twenty-year old Daniel MacConnell to tell us all about his internship at NIXON and life beyond the university classroom.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a Civil Engineering student at Heriot Watt University and currently completing an internship over the summer with NIXON before returning to university to complete my final year (Hons).

What got you into engineering in the first place?

At school, I was good at Maths and l liked problem solving so it was a mixture of both that led me to apply to do civil engineering and I’ve been interested ever since.

What do you enjoy about civil engineering?

The course at University covers a wide range of practical and theoretical aspects and has given me a good breadth of understanding and foundation to build upon.

What made you wish to apply for an internship with NIXON?

Mostly, I wanted to know what’s required on the ground and to take the theory and apply it to real working conditions. We were also encouraged by our lecturers to find industry placements and working with professionals has been a real experience that puts into context all our learning.

What’s involved in your day-to-day activities with the NIXON engineering team?

I am completing a 16-week programme with the team and learning from those around me. So far, this has covered steel and wooden beams, piling, information gathering, and working on computer-based software programmes. Nothing beats practical understanding and being able to understand how what we know and what we do can shape buildings and have a wider implication on the built environment around us.

In the first few weeks, it was very much like listening and watching and as time has progressed I have been able to more involved. I’ve been visiting sites and working with the team to support their activities by using my own initiative and helping them as they work towards their briefs.

What’s been the most surprising aspect?

It’s the breadth and depth of projects that NIXON is working on, the range of sectors, and the volume of work that the team carries out. I underestimated the amount and volume of work that needs to get done.

What’s been the best bit?

It’s a good place to come to work in the morning and I’ve been able to learn from everyone I work with as well as those in the surrounding teams. There’s a positive feel about the place, it’s a good friendly and fun environment to work in while at the same time, everyone is working hard to get the job done. We also get involved in things outside work like raising money for Glasgow Children’s Charity; it means everyone is pulling together to achieve a target while also having fun along the way.

What will you take away with you? (Not that we want you to leave)

It’s been great to understand the theories I’ve learned and to see these in practice. It’s the experience I was looking for and needed. I’m at an early stage in my career but having this to reference will no doubt help me in my final exams and in my future as a qualified civil engineer.

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