Q&A with SCX intern Jack Hadley

    22nd October 2021

Over the summer, SCX Special Projects welcomed Jack Hadley to the team as a Structural Design Intern. Jack spent time with various departments in order to understand how an engineering business operates.

We caught up with Jack to get his perspective on his experiences, as well as how they might be applied to his oncoming year of study.


Who are you, what do you study, and how did you find your experience at SCX?

Hi, I’m Jack Hadley. I am 22 years old and have just finished my fourth (and penultimate) year at the University of Bath, studying Civil and Architectural Engineering.

After crossing paths with SCX during my placement year with a structural engineering consultancy in London, I have had the opportunity to spend four weeks exploring the niche industry SCX find themselves in, from the perspective of a structural engineer.

What were you looking to get out of your time with SCX?

From my time at university and my year-long work placement, it has been clear that civil engineers do not just work with civil engineers. In fact, we work with mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, architects, clients…the list is endless.

By spending a month at SCX, I was hoping to appreciate how the requirements and specifications of projects are viewed from another perspective. This is a vital skill, since projects can be delayed and overcomplicated simply by the parties involved being unable to comprehend what their counterparts require.

This ultimately comes back to good communication, so I aimed to see how I could improve my communication skills for future design projects. 

Who were you working with, and what did you do here?

Another aim of my placement with SCX was to understand how the firm runs on a day-to-day basis.

I explored many departments including mechanical design, EC&I, marketing, SHEQ, IT, project management and the workshop. Not only did this give me a great insight into the intricacies of how each department functions, but it also taught me about the role played by departments I had never considered before.

I was predominantly based in the mechanical engineering department working on the Network Rail AVA lift project. My task was to produce a foundation arrangement for the lift assembly, stiff enough to minimise deflections of the lift due to dead, live and wind loads. As a highly structural engineering-based task, this was the perfect opportunity to hone my interdisciplinary communication skills.

This task culminated in a project meeting with Network Rail. This gave me an insight into the roles that politics, compromise and money play in progressing a project, and how a project specification can be understood differently by various parties.

What did you enjoy about your time at SCX?

One of the most enjoyable experiences at SCX was a site visit to the newly acquired Denley Hydraulics. The main aim of the visit was to identify any areas of the workshop where health and safety visibility needed to be further improved to reach high-level certification.

This was really interesting - firstly, to explore ingrained culture towards health and safety, and secondly, to experience the immense value that SCX places upon making an environment as safe as possible to work in.

Also, after never having set foot in a running workshop before, it was great to see such highly skilled engineers manufacture bespoke items on machines such as CNC lathes and machining centres.

How do you think that your experience at SCX will help you in the upcoming year of study?

At the start of September, I moved to Spain to complete the first half of my master’s year at university in Madrid. One of the modules I will undertake there includes a joint design project with architects.

My time at SCX has shown me that it will be vital that throughout the project for the architects and civil engineers to thoroughly discuss design ideas, right from the fundamentals of the design through to intricate design detailing. This will avoid time being wasted should any communication failures lead to incompatible designs.

Additionally, my time at SCX has taught me to design tolerance and flexibility into my design at the early stages of a project, to avoid costly design tweaks and unbuildable design solutions later in the project. With SCX having strong links to manufacturing, it was important to learn how valuable it is to check that a design always remains feasible and buildable.

What do you foresee will be the biggest industry development over the coming years that civil engineering firms will need to embrace in order to get ahead?

With the built environment contributing towards roughly 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, it is sustainable design that civil engineering firms will have to embrace in order to get ahead.

At SCX I observed examples of sustainable design including the refurbishment of cranes rather than their disposal (moving towards a circular economy), as well as the push towards the use of innovative composite materials, many of which are associated with lower embodied carbon. The implementation of a sustainability group at SCX also shows that the firm is embracing this movement.

In the coming years, with younger generations being passionate about climate change and the aim to reach net zero in the UK, it is vital that civil engineering firms are prepared to put forward proposals which are predominantly designed with sustainability in mind, rather than cost!

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