Kevin Joseph talks to us about what inspired him to become a chartered structural engineer, his day-to-day routine at HLN Engineering and his thoughts on the industry.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’ve been in the industry just over 20 years. I started as a technician at the end of 1996 with Hyder Consulting, the consulting arm of Welsh water at the time. I was there for a number of years, during which I started my degree part-time. Prior to this, I completed a HND in civil engineering. I graduated in 2002 and since then I’ve made steady progress, working my way up from graduate structural engineer to technical director in my last company. I currently work as an associate for HLN Engineering.
Generally speaking, I have a wide range of experience – anything from housing, airports, rail, you name it. I have experience in all aspects of building material, having worked with steel, concrete, timber, masonry and structural glass to name a few.
I’ve also managed fairly large teams throughout the years. During a project I worked on at Heathrow Airport, I was responsible for a team of 20 engineers.
What inspired you to become a structural engineer?
Upon leaving school, I wanted to be an architect. However, I became more interested in the technical side of things – I’ve always been good with numbers and I’ve always been interested in how things fit together. That’s where my strengths lay, so moving into engineering seemed natural. Ultimately, my artistic background isn’t as strong, so I went down a slightly different path but stuck with buildings.
How long have you been working for HLN Engineering Ltd?
Since December 2018. I was made redundant in my last company – they had quite a significant downturn in work and lost a number of staff, myself included. I had been there for a fair few years and saw it as an opportunity to stretch my legs. Even though I had worked on many large projects, things started to slow down and it became a bit stagnant, so it was a good move.
What does a typical day look like for you at HLN?
I start by checking my emails and planning for the day ahead. Aside from project work, I oversee Christie, a graduate engineer keen to gain more hands-on project experience. I’m also responsible for checking Joel’s [civil engineer] work, as-well as Arik’s [structural engineer] work.
I manage the technical aspects of the engineering department, ensuring work is carried out efficiently, in accordance with the brief, and complies with the current codes of practice. My technical experience is probably a lot more varied than some of the other guys in the office, hence why I spend a lot of time assisting others.
What project are you working on now and what’s interesting about it?
There’s the Rockwool project, which is interesting as we’re working quite closely with the client. I’m also working with Starbucks and I’ve recently finished consulting on the refurbishment of an old council building in Barry, Haydock House. These are clients that need a bit of a steer, so working on a consultative basis I provide recommendations or a more cost-effective way of doing things.
What would you say your best moment has been so far?
That’s probably a little bit early for me, as I haven’t been working for the company that long – there are very few projects, if any, that I’ve worked on from inception to completion. However, I think it’s fair to say that Rockwell is my most exciting project to date. This is down to the sheer scale of the project and the fact that it’s something slightly different for me because I’ve been asked to manage the civil engineering side of the project. As you know I’m a structural engineer, so there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but I’m very much looking forward to the challenge. Once that’s complete, it’ll be another feather in my cap, so to speak.
What is the future of structural engineering in your eyes?
Good question. There’s a shortage of land so people tend to build up as-well as down, particularly in London – nobody can afford to move these days so they extend what they have. I anticipate there will be a lot of interesting developments in the way houses are adapted.
There will definitely be a big push in environmental engineering moving forward – there has to be. In particular, there will be a big emphasis on land use, the re-use of materials and the use of materials that are more sustainable.
Contact Kevin and our team of structural engineers today for more information on the services we provide.