On each project Sanctus welcomes students from the local area, to undertake work placements. Whether as part of their year in industry during an undergraduate degree, or during summer vacation from school or university. College student, Aaron Bennett, has recently completed a diploma at Hartpury College in Gloucester, and here he explains how his experience and his Sanctus work placement has encouraged him to pursue a career in geo-environmental engineering.

Q. What are you studying currently?
A. I have recently completed a Diploma in Land Based Studies at Hartpury College. The course is designed to prepare people without traditional qualifications for study at university, in their chosen field. The course was really interesting, it was based around animal science, but also covered all three sciences, touched on economics, business, sustainability and higher education preparation.

Q. You’re currently looking ahead to your university life. Tell us more!
A. I have been accepted by Cardiff University to study Environmental Geography and I am really looking forward to it. University wasn’t always on the cards for me, I felt as though I wasn’t academic, and battled through my school years. However, I now know that I just wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I have started later in life, but life experience and travel helped me develop as a person and opened my eyes to an endless variety of opportunity. I now feel ready to knuckle down and tackle further education in my chosen discipline. I am also really looking forward to living in Wales and exploring the city.   

Q. What encouraged you to do a work placement in environmental engineering?
A. I imagine I will become a Geologist or Environmental engineer. Following time spent in British Columbia, Canada’s western most province it made me realise how much I love our natural environment. Environmental geographers use their specific understanding of the natural and physical environment to find solutions to crucial environmental issues. By undertaking a work placement at Sanctus it has encouraged me to pursue a career in Geo-environmental engineering.

Q. What appeals to you about Environmental Geography?
A. Studying environmental geography will definitely give me choices in life. I don’t like the idea of having to narrow down my options. Speaking to some of the engineers and graduates during my placement at Sanctus, they told me that when they were younger, they loved science, animals and our natural environment and then working in geo-environmental engineering gave them the opportunity to use their skills, knowledge and interests, so this is really appealing.

Also, I want to give myself options and gain strong transferable skills so that I can go into a well-paid job in an area where the market is heading, so looking towards the future, this seems like a great option for me.  Engineering is about problem-solving: not just about the cost of making a product that is going to make your life easier, but how you can make a product so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment – I find this really fascinating to think about.

Q. What have you done on your placement?
A. I have been given the opportunity to undertake a really good mix of activities. I have been working within the team and have touched on everything from reviewing drawings, assisting in technical method statements, helping with site set-up and even getting stuck in and getting my hands dirty on Sanctus projects. I have also recently passed my CSCS exam, which I am very pleased about.

The projects I am working on are a number of bio-diversity enhancement and flood prevention projects that will enhance the surrounding community. The engineers and project managers whom I have worked with are really good at explaining things, and they are really happy to take the time to do it and to answer my questions. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, and I am happy they have shared their knowledge with me.

Q. Has your placement encouraged you to consider a career in geo-environmental engineering?
A. Definitely, I have had a great few months so far. Before I came to Sanctus, I thought that engineering was heavily dependent on civils, buildings and machinery however, now I know more of the complexity behind what it is to be a Geologist / Environmental Engineer and Nature Based Solutions. I feel that I will come away with reassurance, a whole new knowledge bank and a better understanding and appreciation of engineering in general. It’s been a fascinating experiencing working with Sanctus and in this environment, and I would really like to know more. I would like to thank Sanctus and Gloucester City Council for giving me this opportunity.