Laing O’Rourke engineering placement: C520 Custom House Station

by Aneesa Ali

1My engineering placement was with Laing O’Rourke; an engineering enterprise based in the UK who provide engineering, construction and management services to countries all over the world. One of the projects they are currently working on is Crossrail; a new rail service in and around London which will reduce congestion on train and lessen journey times. Once open in 2018 it will run from Shenfield/Abbey Wood to Reading/Heathrow, going through 40 stations; 8 of which are newly built. This includes the Custom House Station, which is where I was situated for my placement.

On the first day, before I could do anything I had to sit through an extensive induction which emphasised the importance of health and safety on site. I was also given my orange PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which everyone is required to wear when on site. This includes goggles, hard hats, gloves, boots and hi-visibility jackets and trousers.

2The rest of the week was split between being on site and talking to people in the office. Being on site allowed me to see for myself what was happening rather than having someone tell me. When on site I shadowed different engineers who showed me different aspects of the station. The electrical engineer showed me around the plant rooms and explained how the electricity would get around the station, whilst the civil engineers showed me around and explained the actual building of the substructure and superstructure. The photos below were taken whilst I was shadowing a package manager who’s in charge of the subcontractors on the project. The subcontractors, in this case DELTA, were installing the glass on the sides of the VDR (Victoria Dock Road) bridge using a mini-spider crane.

I was also able to see how slip testing (testing the resistance of the ground we walk on) is carried out and go on a site quality inspection with people from Crossrail and the quality manager on site. What I enjoyed most on site was surveying because it was more hands on; We used specialist equipment such as theodolites to measure the levels of the ground.

In the office I worked with document control, commercial (quantity surveyors, procurement etc.), quality control and planning management. I was also able to talk to the environmental manager on site which I found to be very beneficial as the area of engineering which interests me most is environmental/energy engineering.

Something I feel like I’ve gained is the appreciation for all the work that goes into something we use every day, like stations. Whenever I’m at a train station now I can’t help but think of all of the engineering and construction that went into it.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to see what happens on a construction site. Most importantly I gained exactly what I wanted out of this experience, which was to see what engineering involves first hand.