Katie Baker began an engineering apprenticeship with us in 2019 and is an integral part of our M&E team. She is two years into her five-year degree in Building Services Engineering at Liverpool John Moores, and most recently, was named runner up for a prestigious CIBSE Apprentice of the Year award.
Here, Katie talks through her role, why she chose an apprenticeship with Tetra Tech, and why she thinks other young women should consider engineering as a career.
How did you get into this job and what is your previous history?
After finishing college, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue in full-time education and go the usual university route. After taking a year off to travel, I decided to look into apprenticeships as the focus on learning on the job, rather than just in the classroom, sounded really appealing.
My dad worked in construction so I had a vague idea of what opportunities lie within the sector, and after doing my own research, found the engineering apprenticeship offered at Tetra Tech.
When I was at school, careers in construction and engineering wasn’t something you heard a lot about – especially as a girl – but actually there’s so many different career paths and areas of speciality within the sector, there’s something for every skill set or interest.
What does your day-to-day job role involve?
Currently, I do a lot of work on Revit (a building information modelling software) and create drawings and layout plans for various members of the team.
I spent my first few years working primarily on one large job for Oldham Council which started at the same time as I did. This recently completed and it’s been great to be able to see the entire project progress from start to finish. Now this has finished, I offer support across a wider variety of jobs, and I’m often attending meetings across the M&E team and the wider business to learn more about different projects and what other team members do.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I love learning new things and every day there’s something new to understand. As a multi-disciplinary, Tetra Tech encourages you to get exposure to different parts of the business, not just M&E – things like finance, programmes and project control.
This approach gives me first-hand experience of things I wouldn’t necessarily learn at university and ultimately, it’s going to make me a stronger consultant once I qualify.
What has been your most interesting project to work on throughout your career with Tetra Tech/WYG?
The majority of my career with Tetra Tech so far has been spent working on the Alexandra Park project for Oldham Council, which I’ve been working on proposals for Phase 2 of the works.
We’ve aimed to make the entire scheme carbon negative, not just carbon neutral, which makes it quite unique in the market. I was given free range to research the best method and the sustainable solution I proposed was the one eventually chosen by the client. Being able to shape projects like this so early in my career is incredible, and I’m so proud of playing a part in helping create more environmentally-friendly builds.
How has Tetra Tech supported you in your career?
The whole team here is so supportive – there’s always someone to ask questions, even if my line manager isn’t available.
We also have a really balanced gender split on the M&E team, which is still pretty rare in our industry. I work closely with many senior female engineers and having their support and example to look up to helps show me exactly what’s possible as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
I didn’t necessarily expect to have so many other women around me in engineering when I first started, but this is proof that the industry is changing. We now need to make sure girls are aware of this at school level, so even more can consider engineering as a fulfilling career.
Why would you recommend Tetra Tech to others?
Doing a Tetra Tech apprenticeship has helped me balance work and university in a way that suits me and my career goals, and the whole business has made me feel really supported with my studying.
The company has also operated a truly flexible approach since the Covid-19 pandemic – meaning you can work any place and at any time – and is continuing to support this despite many other firms returning to requiring at least some form of office working.
I’m based at our Manchester office, but my commute is quite long. I’ve really enjoyed the extra time I’ve been able to get through home working and feel reassured this will continue – I’d definitely recommend Tetra Tech to anyone who values flexibility.
What is the most exciting thing about the future of your industry?
Definitely the work around sustainability and it’s great to start my career while this area is really taking off.
The possibilities that are being created through new engineering methods mean that targets we thought were near impossible to achieve a decade ago, like carbon neutral builds, are now becoming the standard. The new goal, is going above and beyond this, finding ways to make buildings have a long-term positive contribution to the environment and demonstrating to clients that it is a good investment for them.