CARE Construction Challenge

Last year a team consisting of two graduates (Andy Mather and Tom Bignell) and a design engineer (Tony Pettigrew) entered a race with the comment on our application form:

“We are unbeaten in the CARE Construction Challenge!”

This was not due to any previous victories, but simply the fact that this was their first year entering the event! However they trained and fundraised hard, and in the end they both managed to raise over £1800 for CARE, and win the competition! Therefore allowing them to continue to utter the egotistical phrase.

One year has passed since then and in a bid to hold on to their hard fought prize, they have entered the competition once again. One more member has been added to their team, Justin Vaughan, a CAD technician, and the same competitive spirit remains. The event is to complete, as a team, 10 miles on foot, 15 miles on a bike and 1.2 miles in a kayak around the lovely hills of Exmoor in Devon. The competition this year will be tough. There are already over 30 other teams entered this year, including three from Ramboll, with another all graduate team consisting of Jacob Fagan, Elliot Connolly and Nick Smallman.

We will try to keep you updated with how our training and fundraising efforts are going and if you find it in your hearts to sponsor us you can do this via our Just Giving page.


Tom Bignall is a Graduate Structural engineer  in the London office.

GDP 2013 – A perspective from The Other Side

The Ramboll Graduate Design Project was a perfect opportunity for the young, enthusiastic graduates to showcase our skills, creativity and imagination to the company; For a few lucky grads, the opportunity has even arisen to present our abilities to the rest of world. I would go so far as to say that for a number of us, we discovered a creative spark that perhaps we didn’t now we had.

The Graduate Design Project split up new starters from around the country into teams of four and we were given the opportunity to enter an international design competition. The three options offered were:

• Design a zombie safe house
• Design a structure to facilitate events in a parking lot in Flint, Michigan
• Design a masterplan to regenerate an urban corridor in Vauxhall, London.

In the daily heat of battle with clients, calculations and design codes, such interesting and brief-light projects offered a refreshing break, since the scope to offer our own input into the creative process is, usually, somewhat constrained. Such a departure from “tried and tested”, on-the-job training hopefully gave us all a little more confidence in our abilities to design things, use our imagination, and perhaps most importantly, to have conviction in our ideas and the confidence to lay our suggestions – with convincing justifications – on the table, no matter how unusual and wacky they may seem to others; Imagine the high level meeting where someone suggested Meerkats to compare car insurance…

What else do I think we learned from this unique experience? Design is hard work! It doesn’t just sneak up on you in your sleep, in the shower or on the tube; Design is the evolution of a basic seed of an idea(s) through research, brainstorms, discussions, drawings, arguments, exploration, confidence, listening, compromise, more arguments, sketches and drawings.

One of the most important things in the design process, however, is not just great ideas, but the ability to realise and communicate them so that they are clear to you, clear to your colleagues, and perhaps most importantly, clear to those who make the final decision, so that everyone can understand where you’re coming from and ultimately share the same enthusiasm and conviction for what you gave your weekends up to conceive! 

Kayvan Ghorani works in London Highways and was a member of Team E. Their project was called The Other Side.





The final presentation board for Group E.

Acoustics on Tour

Members of the acoustics team returned to University this month for careers events at the University of Salford and at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) in Southampton.

Both of the events were specifically aimed at students studying acoustics related courses, so it was a great opportunity to promote what Ramboll has to offer.

As a result of these events, applications have already been received for placement opportunities starting in the summer.

Salford Careers Fair

Rachel Bennett and Raf Orlowski (former student and lecturer respectively) attended the Acoustics, Audio and Video Engineering Event at the University of Salford. The day included an employer panel and tour of the facilities at Media City.

The event was invaluable for meeting students and discussing their interests, and what being a graduate member of Ramboll’s Acoustics team involves. People were interested to hear about our wide range of Acoustics projects, and the opportunities for training and development that Ramboll provides for graduates in general.



Southampton Careers Fair

For the last few years the ISVR has run a very successful Careers Fair for its students. These include undergraduate students taking MEng and BEng degrees in Engineering Acoustics, postgraduate students taking the MSc in Sound and Vibration Studies and PhD students. The aim of this Careers Fair is to demonstrate to students the wide range of openings available to those with expertise in sound and vibration, as well as giving students and employers a chance to meet and interact.

Thomas Jones and Adrian Popplewell (both former students of the ISVR) travelled to Southampton University on 13th February to present on Ramboll Acoustics and give the students an idea of the exciting projects that acoustics can be involved on. There was a positive feedback and a great deal of interest from students applying for summer and permanent placements.  For more information on Ramboll Acoustics graduate opportunities, please contact either Rachel Bennett or Thomas Jones.




Rachel Bennet is Graduate engineer in the Acoustics team in the Cambridge office.

Graduate Design Project 2013

After the success of the inaugural Graduate Design Project last year, the newest graduate engineers to join Ramboll have completed the second GDP! Graduates from across the UK took part making it an excellent opportunity to socialise with the new grads and learn about each other’s experiences around the regional offices, as well as partaking in the competition at hand.

This year’s challenge was to work in small groups to produce a submission for a current architectural competition. Out of the six groups five chose the Flat Lot Competition – to design a temporary event space in a parking lot in Flint, Michigan – whilst the final group bravely went out on their own to produce a master plan to reinvigorate the Vauxhall area in London.

To help inspire us on our way we had talks from people both within Ramboll and from the wider industry, focusing on competition bids. These included a talk on some of the bridge competitions that Ramboll have completed and a talk from Architects Studio AR about their unique practice. Each team produced a blog (links below) to chart progress through the design process.

Finally, after three weeks of hard work, debate and deliberation, combined of course with much fun and inspiration, the presentation day arrived. It was very interesting afternoon, with some fantastic ideas on display as shown in the display boards below. Two of the designs are being carried forward to be entered into the real competition so an update on these shall follow later in the year!

Ruth Chislett is a Graduate Strucrural engineer in the London office.

Chander Nagar Workshop

We are Jago, Keelan and Yanchee, structural engineers from the London office. Last October we went to Dehradun, north-east India to take part in a two week workshop to construct a pavilion type structure or a “Rangshala” for an under privileged school in the area. The project was set up by three AA students who had developed a relationship with a local school organisation Nanhi Dunya. Nanhi Dunya is a charity that runs about a dozen schools in and around Dehradun for disadvantaged children. Their school in Chander Nagar was particularly run down and was chosen as the location for the project. The idea was to construct a building that was to be used by the school and also the local community for various activities.

Ramboll’s charity task group had kindly sponsored our visit allowing us to provide engineering advice for the workshop. We teamed up with the architects who had set up the project, as well as a travelling Norwegian architecture school, NTNU. We flew over excited but not knowing what to expect. We knew that we’d be providing structural advice as part of the workshop but we weren’t fully aware of what we signed up for. It was an intense two weeks but was incredibly rewarding and more than met our expectations. Going through a complete design process; from initial concept through to construction usually takes years but to achieve this in two weeks is a remarkable achievement and something we are proud to be a part of.

The initial design process was very exciting and fast moving.  Working so closely with architects from the outset to respond creatively to the brief was a pleasure and allowed us to contribute holistically to the design.  They say it takes three architects to keep one engineer busy.  If this is true, we were seriously outnumbered and the odds were always against us!  On any project there will be design changes but on this project the design can only be described as fluid. We had to adapt our design on a daily basis to suit whatever change was thrust upon us; be it architectural or an unexpected site constraint. This provided a great challenge but working in that fast paced, pressurised environment was something we enjoyed and learned a lot from.

Along with structural advice it transpired that we would be taking on other roles including project manager, quantity surveyor, site manager, procurer and labourer. Being involved in all aspects of the job has given us an appreciation for the whole construction process. Usually, when we are working in the UK, it is easy to design something from the office and let someone else deal with how your design is installed. That the designs would be realised on site the following day (or hour, or minute) meant we really had to focus on constructability and process.  We were forced to think through every part of the installation and had to make sure our designs were simple as possible so they could be produced and installed within the tight schedule. The extent to which carefully made plans can change on site was an important lesson to us, just as the ingenuity and adaptability one is capable of was a revelation.

Working in India also opened our eyes to local construction practices. It was really interesting to see different techniques for both procuring and instillation. We found it particularly exciting to go down to the steel fabricators. We would arrive with a drawing of a detail, explain what we needed, hand pick the appropriate steel from the stock then watch them cut and weld it on the side of the road while we waited, sipping chai.

Along with learning a great deal about the construction process there are many other things we take away from our time in India. One thing in particular is the experience of culture. We were fortunate to be there during a number of festivals including the Festival of Ram. Learning about the story of Ram then seeing a 50 foot effigy being burned down was something that was alien to us but was great to witness. Also, in talking with Indian people and the travelling Norwegian school it was great to learn about the different cultures.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and we were delighted to be a part of the project. We hope the “Rangshala” will be of value to both Nanhi Dunya and the local community. 


Keelan is a Graduate Structural engineer in the London office.

Bangladesh flood relief Project

After making a donation to assist ActionAid’s Haiti Aid Relief campaign in 2010, Ramboll have decided to continue their support. This year the Ramboll Group and its Foundation of Trustees have donated nearly £30,000 directly to the charity for its new flood relief project.

ActionAid Bangladesh has developed a project with the main aim of improving the immediate and long-term living conditions of people affected by flooding in Tala Upazila, by providing durable flood resilient shelters.

Ramboll is supporting the design and construction of 25 flood relief shelters for 25 households which consist of 125 marginalised people in the Dalit Balia Rishi Para community. They are considered as lower cast in the Hindu community due to their religious ethnicity.
The project has been set up and is being managed voluntarily by myself Elliott Connolly and Nicholas O’Brien, from Ramboll’s London office.  Ramboll’s UK Charity Task Group is providing the funding which is supporting our direct involvement.  This includes the recent visit to the Dalit Balia Rishi Para community, and designing the shelters in a way which makes them culturally acceptable, cost-effective, sustainable and above all, efficient.

Following a start-up week in Bangladesh, attending numerous meetings with ActionAid project managers, implementing partners, NGOs and government representatives, we are now progressing well with the project. A key part of the trip involved visiting the planned site and participating in a consultation and brainstorming session with the community which gave us insights into their way of life, and what they would require and also want from the shelter design. This allowed us to then establish how best to work together with ActionAid to come up with the most effective solution; a design which provides the community with not only a home but also an efficient shelter capable of withstanding the monsoon season.

Following the construction of a pilot shelter towards the end of February, we shall return to Bangladesh. Here we will help to begin and manage the building process, so that all 25 shelters are constructed before the monsoon season begins and the floods start to develop.

It’s great to know that our work will positively affect a whole community, not only will the living standards for the villagers improve but, potentially, lives will also be saved.
More information on ActionAid can be found here (

Elliot Connolly is a Graduate Structural engineer in the London office.