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United Kingdom / Buildings / Apprentice

James Patterson

James on holiday at Moraine Lake
James in front of Moraine Lake
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James in front of Moraine Lake Here is James on holiday at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Some of my friends who went to university think my apprenticeship is great because I get paid!

What made you want to join the construction industry in the first place?

My dad is a project manager so I got to see what the construction industry was like from a young age. He was involved in projects in the UK and abroad, including projects in the Caribbean and China – I got to see the Shanghai Tower while he was working in the area, and I was fascinated by that and the other skyscrapers nearby. I remember going to a meeting with him once and feeling more drawn to the design process – I’ve always loved designing things and putting them together. I loved making things with Lego as a child, and at school my favourite subjects were those where I could be creative, such as art, graphics and design and technology. I love the process of starting with a concept and continually refining your ideas until you ended up with a finished product.

How did you go about getting onto your current programme?

I studied maths, physics and graphics at college, and about halfway through the course I started thinking about my next steps; how I would go about becoming a civil engineer? I decided that an apprenticeship would be the best option for me so I had a look through the Government’s apprenticeship website and applied for the civil engineering options that stood out. I could have gone to university, but wanted to get work experience whilst learning.

What have you done so far?

I’ve been working in our highways team recently and have learnt a lot about using design software including AutoCAD 2015 and vehicle-tracking software, which I’ve used to virtually test whether vehicles will fit a proposed layout. I even had to animate this in 3D once for a client. I’ve also been involved in putting together a detailed statement of work, prices, and dimensions for a few projects. This really helped give an insight into the cost of construction projects and how the construction process works.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

I am continuing to develop my understanding of the construction process and would like to complete a degree and gain chartered status. These qualifications and experience are recognized internationally and would allow me to work around the world. At the moment I see myself possibly working in structures, but I plan to get experience in lots of areas of engineering before specialising in a particular sector.

What do all your mates think of what you do?

Some of my friends who went to university think my apprenticeship is great because I get paid!

Where do you think we will see you in ten years’ time?

I’d love to be qualified to use unmanned aerial vehicle technology – I think they can be of huge benefit to the construction industry, whether for maintenance purposes or for 3D modelling.

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