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This MSc Structural Engineering graduate has worked on multi-million dollar projects, such as the Jebel Ali International Airport, Wafi City’s Raffles International Hotel and the $215m Al-Ruwais Port Project.
Student name: Rajeeve Nair
Course title: MSc Structural Engineering
Year of graduation: 2004
Current employer: Ashghal, Public Works Authority, Qatar
Tell us about yourself
Rajeeve has worked on multi-million dollar projects such as the Jebel Ali International Airport, the Raffles International Hotel in Wafi City and currently on the Al-Ruwais Port project costing about $215m under Ashghal, the Public Works Authority of Qatar.
Focused on what he needed in his professional career, he came to Cardiff to further his technical knowledge on engineering structures and is now reaping the benefits of his master’s degree.
You did your master’s in structural engineering; How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
Structural engineering is one of the most challenging fields in civil engineering. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is broader and does not cover certain advanced areas of structural engineering. My master’s degree in Cardiff University helped me understand the subject better especially the seismic design of structures.
How was your experience at Cardiff?
I had a great time in Cardiff! Living with friends and exploring the culture of UK was a great experience. Last September, my wife and I had a vacation in the UK. I had come to the University but unfortunately it was your summer break so I couldn’t meet up with my professors. But we managed to visit some of my friends still working in the UK.
Could you tell me about your current project at the Al Ruwais Port? What is your day-to-day schedule like?
The Al Ruwais Port Project is handled by Ashghal and is situated in the North of Qatar. Ashghal is the public works authority and Al Ruwais is a commercial port. The construction project is ongoing and will last two and a half years. With the current development vision of Qatar, various additional scope was included in the planned project. We are working with marine operations, strategic works for the channel and basins, onshore works, etc.
I have a consultant and a contractor on board my team; they both have very good experience in the Middle East. As a Project Engineer, from the client’s side, I have to ensure that we are meeting the standards and requirements of the end users.
I also have to manage the change requirements of the various stakeholders as we have a lot going on. Many people are involved, including but not limited to: coast guards, the Ministry of Environment and Port Authorities. We need to make sure that everything is recorded properly and that the contractor has sufficient work to progress at site.
What is the highlight of your career so far? Any projects you are most proud of?
I worked on Raffles International Hotel during my time as a structural design engineer in Dubai. I was part of the structural design team from concept to execution. The project was very innovative and building it in the shape of a pyramid was challenging. As part of my master’s, my specialisation was computer-aided design and modelling of buildings to obtain their natural frequencies. That was my background and I could apply my knowledge to various design projects in Dubai.
What important lessons did you learn in Cardiff, academically or socially, do you carry with until today?
During my work after my bachelor’s, I understood the need for specialisation to meet the industry requirements. Thus my master’s programme rectified that. It was something I needed to experience and overcome in Cardiff. Understanding the subject matter was my main reason for the master’s and that’s what I set out to do.
Also, because I had always lived in the Middle East and India, when I came to the UK, I was very much more exposed. Everything was different. I had a chance to work in Westbury Homes in Cardiff and with people from different backgrounds. The cultural difference and quality standards were different. It wasn’t always about your performance speed; it was about focus and going through the entire process properly to deliver a quality product. This was a great opportunity for me to learn and attain confidence in my work.
Any words of wisdom for prospective students thinking of coming to Cardiff?
Understanding the right field you need to specialise is important. What I would advise is to properly understand what you want to get into. Doing the master’s was challenging, following which I practiced design for about three years. But eventually I stepped into project management and to date, it’s been four years that I’ve been in that role. To choose a master’s degree accordingly, you really have to see what you have a flair for.
And no matter what your master’s programme – there is still more to explore. There is only a short amount of time and lots of knowledge; people should maximise that. You can get so much experience with an additional one year of study and can apply that to your work.
Whenever I speak to anyone, I will say that I had the best time in Cardiff. If you have the opportunity to do a degree in a foreign university, do it. It’s not only about the academics but also about the international exposure, interaction with other students and the overall experience.