10th January 2022


Arkwright Engineering Scholarships Alumna Era Shah talks about her journey into engineering, and the path that lead to her being recognised as one of the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering 2021.

I joined my company, Costain as a graduate in 2014, however I had been associated with them long before that. In my final year at school, I had the opportunity to showcase my design and technology project to the next cohort of Arkwright Engineering Scholars and their sponsors. Through this, I met a Costain representative and over time I secured work placements, full university sponsorship for my Civil Engineering MEng degree at Nottingham University and finally a place on their graduate programme.

Most of my experience has been within complex delivery, specifically rail infrastructure projects working with clients such as Network Rail, Crossrail and HS2. After becoming a chartered Civil Engineer in 2019 and completing my role leading a demolition package on the HS2 Enabling Works Contract, I transferred to the transportation consultancy sector as a Principal Consultant. Here, I identified value engineering opportunities that positively influenced the logistics, programme, and cost of design whilst producing construction phase plans to reflect these recommendations. I have now stepped back into complex delivery as a Planning Engineer, joining the Thames Tideway project, a huge feat of engineering running under the Thames and across the Capital.

This year, I was selected as one of the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering 2021: Engineering Heroes. This was based on my work as an engineer on HS2, my team’s success in introducing an innovation that significantly reduced risk hours and my dedication in promoting gender quality in the industry.

Through collaborative planning with the supply chain, I helped implement a smart de-risked solution on HS2 to achieve the scope of works, namely the demolition curtain. This leading-edge innovation was the first of its kind on HS2 and transformed the operational works. This method designed out 25,000-person risk hours associated with falls from height, plant pedestrian interface, uncontrolled collapse, reduced each building’s demolition programme by a third and contributed towards the site’s overall carbon saving of 360tns.

I was also a founding member and Chair of the Female Advocates in Infrastructure and Rail network on HS2. A network which creates space for women and allies to work together to understand, educate, and positively influence behaviours towards gender fairness through strategic action.

I am passionate about championing platforms like this within Costain and externally to continue to support women through their careers, celebrate accomplishments and share the value of allyship. This is not only to create the environment where being your best self can flourish but also to inspire the next generation. I am now also an Arkwright Mentor, mentoring Arkwright Engineering Scholars to help explore the engineering sector and establish goals to support their learning of the industry.

To learn more about our Arkwright Engineering Scholarship programme, please visit Applications for 2022 Scholarships close on Friday 21 January 2022 at 4pm.


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