Welcome to the very first article in our new meet the team series! To kick off this series, we sat down with Tobyn Dawson, who is a structural engineer here at Structural Engineering Services.
Tobyn has worked on a wide range of projects, across many of the industries we serve, during her tenure with us. She will be a familiar face to many of our clients undertaking works such as temporary works and basement renovations.
Tobyn works alongside our team of senior structural engineers.
- What training did you undertake to become a structural engineer?
- I went to university and studied structural and civil engineering. There are lots of great undergraduate and graduate courses in both civil and structured engineering available up and down the country, including advanced programs in more specific aspects of engineering, with today’s courses also considering issues such as zero carbon and sustainability.
- What part of your job do you find most interesting?
I’m very lucky in that I have a very varied role and no two days are ever the same. That said, I particularly enjoy making site visits, meeting with our client and having a face-to-face conversation to really understand what they want to achieve and how we can best work with them to make that project happen.
- What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day is slightly different. If I have planned site visits booked in, I tend to group them into a morning or an afternoon so I can then spend the other half of the day in the office. Usually, I will start the day in the office checking emails and I normally have a daily internal project meeting with the other engineers, so we all understand what others are working on. This meeting is a really useful catch-up as it means we all understand roughly what each other’s day looks like. I then get onto the projects I’m working on, which could entail working on a design or pulling together a report. It very much depends what’s on my desk!
- What kind of projects do you work on most frequently?
As a company, Structural Engineering Services has a wide portfolio of specialisms but for me personally, I tend to find that many of my projects these days involve extensions, basements, and conversions. We are seeing a real spike in demand for these types of projects after lockdown with people assessing how they use their space and wanting to make adjustments to allow for more at-home entertaining for example or a dedicated home office to work remotely.
We also work with many clients who see that property prices have increased so much, that it can often pay to instead focus on an extension or conversion to get what it is that’s missing from the current property without needing to move.
Q. What’s been your most challenging project to date?
We are currently working on a project for Windsor Hospital, this has been challenging as the design has changed quite a lot and in fact is still changing. There isn’t a great deal of detailed of information concerning the existing structure which can also be a challenge and then of course, planning access and visits has to be done with care due to the nature of the building. We have a long history of working within the medical sector so we’re quite well-versed in these kinds of considerations.
Q. When would someone typically call you in?
Usually, we’ll speak to a new client after they have been in touch with an architect and have completed their existing and proposed drawings. If an architect is not needed, we would be called in to check the structure of a property for example.
Q. Is there a particular area that you specialise in or are keen to specialise in?
I find temporary works a really interesting area so that’s something I enjoy and always welcome those kinds of projects coming across my desk.
Q. What are some of the most common issues that you see that could be avoided?
Typically, clients changing their minds in the middle of creating a design or at the very end! It does happen and we always get there in the end!
Q. Have you noticed any trends emerging in your field since the pandemic?
Clients are wanting more basement builds, loft conversions and extensions. It seems to be that people are wanting to build or change what they currently have rather than deal with the hassle and stress of moving.
Q. What’s the next project you’re going to be working on?
My next project is another basement build.
Q. Which project are you most proud of thus far in your career?
I designed seven new build properties and that was a real high point for me so far in my career.
Q. How long have you been with Structural Engineering Services?
I have been here around 18 months.
Q. Who else works on your team?
There are quite a few structural engineers in the team including myself, John, Savida, Alex, Ross and Jon.
Q. Are there other professionals that you work with routinely to complete projects?
Yes, depending on the nature of the project, we’ll typically work in close collaboration with work architects, contractors, surveyors and local councils.