Civil engineering student secures 15-month placement at Dounreay

During his time at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Alexander MacDonald successfully secured a 15-month placement at Grahams Group and was stationed at the Scottish Dounreay nuclear power plant currently being decommissioned.

His post was split into several critical tasks. One of Alexander’s primary responsibilities was creating AutoCAD pour sequence drawings that told workers in which order to pour the concrete. Other duties included surveying walls and shield doors; co-ordinating the concrete deliveries and quality tests.

Alexander describes his experience at the start as very daunting, but as time went on, he became more confident and comfortable with the tasks he was carrying out. Although he sometimes felt like his learning curve was very steep, Alexander felt supported by the University and is glad he completed the placement.

On the back of his excellent performance in Scotland, Alexander was offered a permanent role at Grahams Group after completing his undergraduate studies. This job was offered to him directly because of the real-world experience and practical understanding he now has.

"The placement has helped with my course. I now have a real-world and more practical understanding of the things we get taught, which is very beneficial."

Alexander MacDonald, Civil Engineering, BEng (Hons)

Originally from the Shetland Islands, Alexander came to UCLan to study on the BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering course, which involved a 12-hour ferry crossing followed by a six-hour train journey to our Preston campus.

Alexander is now in the final year of his studies and says that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time, saying that the social atmosphere on the Preston campus is brilliant and enabled him to make lots of friends.

Looking to the future, Alexander has accepted the role he was offered on a part-time basis. Once he has completed his undergraduate studies, he plans to seek further postgraduate study within civil engineering at master’s level.

When asked what advice he would give to students thinking of taking up a placement, Alexander said:

"It may be a bit daunting, but it’s definitely worth doing. I think it’s much better to learn and gain experience by taking up industry placements in your placement year when you have a big support network of people around you"

Alexander MacDonald, Civil Engineering, BEng (Hons)