Building bridges

17-year-old Chloe Sutch’s dream of becoming a civil engineer has been cemented after a stint of work experience on the Mersey Gateway Project.

Chloe, from Widnes, spent a week working alongside the Merseylink engineers who are busy building Halton’s new river crossing.

The student, who is studying for A-levels in maths and 3D art and a BTEC in science at Carmel College in St Helens, has always been interested in architecture and engineering and was keen to get some practical experience on her CV.

“The Mersey Gateway Project is right on my doorstep and I’ve been watching the construction for months,” she said, “I thought that getting some relevant work experience would help me with future job applications and interviews. I’d really like to apply for an advanced apprenticeship where I can learn on the job and study for a degree at the same time.”

Construction joint venture Merseylink is a keen advocate of women in engineering. There are around 60 women working on the project in civil engineering, health and safety, environmental and administrative roles, and Chloe was able spend valuable time with some of them during her placement.

Chloe saw the final anchor box being installed at the central pylon during a site tour across the trestle bridge.

She then met graduate civil engineer, Rosey Thurling, who took her to see some of the specialist site equipment being used for deep soil mixing and piling, plus the beams and deck installation at the Victoria and Widnes Loops viaduct.

Rosey said: “It was a pleasure to accompany someone so engaged and interested in a career that many 17-year-olds may never have even thought about.

“Women are still very much the minority in site-based engineering and for me it is crucial to encourage young women and inform them of all the fantastic opportunities that are out there with a career in civil engineering.”

Chloe also spent time with industry experts in bridge design, health and safety, environment, ecology and communications.

She said: “It was great to get out on site with the Merseylink team and especially to have the opportunity to talk to some of the younger female engineers.

“They gave me an insight into what it’s like to work on an engineering project of this scale as a woman. It’s been an amazing experience and it’s helped me realise that I definitely want to pursue a career in civil engineering.”

Neil Wilcock, Merseylink’s employment and skills co-ordinator, said: “Supporting local young people in their career choices is very important to us. It’s invaluable to be able to gain work experience on one of the biggest civil engineering schemes currently underway in the UK – and it helps us to showcase just how rewarding a career in engineering can be.”

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