Engineering tomorrow’s world: My career in construction

Engineer profile picture

Sizewell C engineer Vanessa Burton is using VR and 4D modelling to build the communities of tomorrow - Credit: Sizewell C

Discover how Sizewell C engineer Vanessa Burton is building a brighter future through her career in construction.

Travelling when she was young, Vanessa Burton was captivated by infrastructure – buildings, bridges, stations: “I wanted to know how things were made.”  

Vanessa studied at St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in Clapham and completed work experience with the Architecture Foundation's 'Between the Bridges' project in summer 2009. She studied Civil Engineering (MEng Hons) at the University of Surrey and was awarded the Surrey/ICE Scholarship, interning with Mott MacDonald before joining the company as a graduate engineer.

In 2019 Vanessa joined Sizewell C, the proposed power station in Suffolk, as an embedded contractor.  

Today, Vanessa, 30, is an engineer working on Sizewell C.

“It is a really varied role and I have worked both on-site and with clients in design consultancy from my desk,” she says.  

Vanessa has worked on implementing innovative new methodologies and interfaces such as 4D modelling and virtual reality (VR).  

“4D is beneficial for building designs, constructability and mitigating risk,” Vanessa explains. “VR headsets allow you to virtually walk around a site – VR is going to be massive in the industry.” 

Most Read

Before coming to East Anglia, Vanessa has enjoyed working on the London Underground’s Northern line extension, as well as the Thames Tideway and Doha Metro in Qatar. 

“Major infrastructure allows people to travel to see their family or produce sustainable energy, for example. I can point to something and say: ‘I designed that. What I have helped to build is benefitting the community.’ The impact you can make is fantastic – that’s what I love about my job.” 

Vanessa argues certain skills are crucial for a career in engineering.  

“As an engineer, you are always searching for the right answer,” she says. “Patience, decision-making and positive visualisation are important in terms of generating a strategy to ensure you complete the job.” 

But it is not just technical skills that are important. “People often forget about soft skills like communication,” Vanessa says. “Being able to clearly articulate your thoughts is one of the most important skills. 

“If you want a career in construction: just do it,” Vanessa advises. “The construction industry has proved resilient despite Covid-19 and there are so many possible opportunities.” 

And Vanessa has one last message to those women setting out on a career in construction. “Good luck to those enrolled in the Women into Construction workshops and courses,” she adds. “I hope to work with you soon – it is so important to have more women on board!”  

For more information visit www.sizewellc.com

Join the workshop  

Are you a woman interested in a career in construction and based in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Acle and Wymondham? Join our fortnightly workshops on February 15, March 1, March 15 and March 29 and find out more about a four-week training programme commencing June 7 to start building your career.   

For more information, please contact Steph Sheppard at Women into Construction at steph.sheppard@women-into-construction.org  

This page is sponsored by Lovell Partnerships and Morgan Sindall Construction, in association with Women into Construction, Sizewell C, the Department of Work & Pensions, East Coast College, Clarion Futures and Labour Desk. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter