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Michelle Tutt


Graduated with MSci in Physics in 2007

Job Title: Graduate Engineer, Mott MacDonald, UK / East Africa

Industry/profession: Highways Engineering within a Civil Engineering Consultancy

Career progression 

Following my graduation I did a short volunteering placement at a school in Tanzania.  I then took a conversion masters' degree for numerate graduates in Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton, from which I graduated with distinction in 2009.  

My masters' degree involved an 11 month work placement which I took in the Highways Division of Mott MacDonald, based in Southampton, where I was offered a permanent position following my graduation. 

The first major project that I worked on was the Bexhill–Hastings Link Road, as support for the Engineering Witness, with the completion of his Statement of Evidence for the Public Inquiry held in autumn 2009, which I also attended.  

Since the beginning of 2010 I have been seconded to the Highways Division International Team.  Following a short placement in Accra, Ghana working on a Bus Rapid Transit Scheme in early January, I have since been working exclusively on projects in Uganda.  In April, I transferred to the Kampala Office and have been working on a 310km road upgrading project in western Uganda. This work has involved many elements of “back to basics” engineering and with the Ugandan Road Design Manual not long-established in the country our client had been very open to suggestions and amendments. For this project, I co-ordinated the creation of the traffic signs and road markings design philosophy and layout.

During my free time, I attend the Institution of Civil Engineers South Branch Graduates and Students committee, where I have arranged events and am due to give a presentation on Development Engineering in November 2010. I intend to sit my professional review to become a Chartered Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2012.

What do you do on an average day?

Working in Uganda, my time is divided between site work and office work.  When in the office, I spend time meeting clients and sub-contractors, organising the workload of junior staff, composing and submitting progress reports and analysing and solving design related problems. On site, I survey existing road conditions, including drainage, pavement conditions, traffic signage and safety features, and prepared survey drawings from which designs can be worked.

What did you learn from your physics degree?

As well as advancing my numeracy skills and developing my confidence with the manipulation of figures and formulae, my physics degree helped me to improve my technical writing skills, which is critical in my career. A key part of my role is to articulate complex problems to others and create technical solutions, and these skills, I learnt from my Physics Degree. 

What three things do you wish you'd known before graduating?
  1. You get out of life what you put in... Hard work pays!
  2. Always stay positive as you never know what's just around the corner.
  3. Never compromise your dreams or ambitions.


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