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.

Ramboll Fury – CODEP Cup

It was a cold November evening in London and our new Ramboll football kit was making its first appearance for the annual 5-a-side charity competition; The CODEP Cup. The dubiously named team “Ramboll Fury” consisted of Ian walker, Keelan Hegarty, Rishi Nimgulkar, Nicholas Smallman, Richard Colothan and me, team captain Kalil Kane. In the previous year’s event we finished as semi-finalists, so this time we were determined to do better.

After a start that saw us narrowly edge our opponents, we found our feet and convincingly won all the group games by scoring at least 5 goals in each game. The final was played against the organisers and current holders of the cup, Fenwick Elliot, and after a tense and energetic game we secured a fantastic 6-2 victory to take the trophy.

It was an enjoyable evening of sport and a great achievement to win the competition, but most importantly it benefited a fantastic cause; The Construction and Development Partnership (CODEP) is a British based charity that operates in London and Sierra Leon to promote literacy in Sierra Leon’s communities, specifically targeting women and girls. CODEP is currently building a learning and literacy resource centre, the Equiano Centre, in Freetown. It will house future community education and health programmes, and the money raised from the competition will help fund the project.

As graduate engineers at Ramboll we enjoy an active sports scene, with the opportunity to play football weekly and enter many sports related charity events throughout the year. It is a chance to socialise with colleagues and meet people from other companies.

Captain Kalil Kane reflects “Winning was brilliant, but the most important thing was the reason why Ramboll got involved in the tournament: to help support the great charity work CODEP is delivering in Sierra Leon.”

Kalil Kane works in the London Buildings and Design office as a Graduate Structural Engineer.


Ramboll Edible Roof Garden

The Edible Terrace is a project to turn the unused roof space on the third floor of the London office into an attractive food-growing garden. Our plan is to fill the vacant terrace perimeter with growing containers made from recycled items, sourcing as much as we can from items being thrown away within the office and the surrounding area.

We have made a start by collecting wooden cable reels, large tin cans and old buckets to use as planters. A mix of salads, herbs, vegetables and edible flowers have already started to spring up inside the two greenhouses that have been constructed from pallets and re-used plastic sheeting.

The next step is to form a garden club offering employees the chance to get involved with maintaining the space and to learn about urban gardening. The idea of the garden is to be self-sustaining with some produce being sold to employees to pay for its up keep in terms of seeds and soil.  Through this we hope to transform the current concrete canvas into an inspiring green space, which can be enjoyed by all.

The Edible Terrace has been a success in adding life and colour to the office roof space, whilst receiving runner-up in the competition ‘Bee-friendly Urban Gardens!’ 

Natalie Mady is a Graduate Structural Engineer in the London office.

She is working on the design of concrete elements for a hospital in Northumbria, and is part of the London Premises panel that has been launced to improve working environments and facilities in the office.

Zizin Carpentry Workshop – Romania

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers to the right of all human beings to adequate shelter. As engineers in the construction sector, our expertise is uniquely valuable for addressing this global human need, and it is in recognition of this that Ramboll financially supports employees  to donate their skills to charity construction projects around the world.
I’m one such lucky employee,  and in the next year I, along with my fellow grad Ana Nicusan, will be designing and constructing a carpentry work facility for the Romanian village of Zizin, providing jobs for the Roma community and supporting the work of the charity FAST (Foundation for Social Assistance and Youth).

The Roma (Romany gypsy) population in Romania has suffered from racial discrimination for centuries and many Roma still suffer from extreme poverty, living in makeshift settlements on the outskirts of existing towns. FAST, the charity we’re working with, have already made a huge difference to the lives of Roma people through their music, education and housebuilding schemes. The carpentry workshop is their latest initiative, with the mission of providing employment, helping the Roma to reach self-sufficiency.

We kicked off the project in September 2012 with a two week visit to the village, to survey the site and discuss designs with the charity. During the days we played manual labourers on some of FAST’s other projects, which was a wonderful opportunity to get our hands dirty and comprehend the reality of building the ideas we dream up in the office. Working in the village was hilarious and we made great friends with the children despite the language barrier – it’s amazing how far pointing, gurning, and Beyoncé songs will get you. I also discovered that I will probably never successfully wield a pickaxe.

Now back in London, we’re getting stuck into what we’re actually good at – the structural design. Ana has been absolutely amazing, researching Romanian vernacular timber frame designs and translating obscure seismic codes. At this early stage, we’re producing some simple computer analysis models to test out a few frame options before we discuss further with the charity and settle on a design.

It’s a fascinating process as the design concerns are so different to our normal work; simplicity/repetition of connections and limitation of available materials are the primary drivers to our design. We both work on small parts of very large schemes in our normal working lives (Ana on Fitzroy place, a commercial new build, and I on the extension of Tate Modern) so it’s amazing to get our teeth into every aspect of the project. The greatest part is having a close relationship with our client (FAST), and knowing how well-loved by the community our creation will be.

If you’d like to see how the project goes, please follow us on, and you can find out more about FAST’s excellent work at


Martha Dallyn is a Graduate Structural engineer in the London office. She is currently working on the RC detailing for the extension of Tate Modern.

The Development Team

In recent months the Graduate Task Group has formed a development team to attempt to provide graduates with the opportunities to work on development projects. It is hoped that these opportunities will enable graduates to become exposed to aspects of projects that they would not normally be involved in at such an early level of their career. The graduates would be the project managers for Ramboll on the project, with the ability to gain advice from directors when they needed to.

Ramboll provides the work for the charities pro-bono, therefore supplying funds for the graduates to spend a few hours during the working week on these projects. Ramboll would also provide funding for the graduates to go to site during the construction phase to act as a resistant engineer for a few weeks.

The Blessed Vale School project was the first to get supported and is the design of a secondary school in an impoverished area in Lusaka, Zambia.

A second project, in partnership with Action Aid, will see the construction of 25 flood resistant home in Bangladesh. Ramboll are providing the engineering support and also funds for the construction of this project.

Further ties have been achieved by Raisa Lalui being nominated onto the Charity Task Panel to help us increase our influence and knowledge in this area.


Tom Bignell is a Graduate Structural engineer in the London office, currently working on Rathbone Market Phase 2.





Raisa Lalui is a Graduate Structural engineer in the London office, currently working on the extension of the Tate Modern.


Welcome to the new graduate blog!

This is where we share what life is like as a Ramboll graduate in the UK.

We have graduates in all our offices nationwide, working in every service discipline that we offer.

From project work to charity initiatives; from the training scheme to an active social scene, there are rich and diverse stories to tell.

We hope you find this blog interesting and we would love to hear from you.